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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 21:22 GMT
Flanagan to meet Omagh relatives
Sir Ronnie Flanagan
Sir Ronnie will discuss the report with relatives
The Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, is to meet the relatives of the Omagh bomb victims on 24 January.

Sir Ronnie is to deliver his response to the Police Ombudsman's scathing report on the investigation of the 1998 bombing, in which a Real IRA car bomb killed 29 people.

It was the worst single atrocity of the Troubles.

He is expected to answer the criticisms made of police actions in Nuala O'Loan's report, which was released in December.


It will be a painful meeting and difficult at times but it is important that it happens

Michael Gallagher Omagh victims' group

The report said that the RUC had information about a planned attack in Omagh 11 days before the bombing.

Michael Gallagher lost his son in the bombing and is the chair of the Omagh victims' group.

He said the meeting would be an emotional one for the relatives.

"It is something that has got to happen," he said.

"We have heard from Nuala O'Loan, now it is important that we listen and respect what Sir Ronnie has to say.

Deterred

"It will be a painful meeting and difficult at times but it is important that it happens."

Mrs O'Loan's controversial report said that had the information been passed on and security checkpoints been put in place, the bombers may have been deterred.

It concluded the judgement and leadership of Sir Ronnie Flanagan, and the assistant chief constable of the crime division, was "seriously flawed".

The Police Service of Northern Ireland criticised the report as containing "factual errors" and rejected the claims of the informant quoted.

Ian Paisley Jnr
Ian Paisley Jnr: "Unionist confidence in the Ombudsman has disappeared"

The families of some of the 29 people who died in the attack called for a public inquiry following the publication of the report.

However, Sir Ronnie said he considered the report to represent neither a "fair, thorough or rigorous investigation".

Meanwhile, the Police Board met in Belfast on Wednesday for the first time since the publication of the controversial report.

DUP assembly member Ian Paisley said he believed the Ombudsman should resign.

'Work in progress'

"I think that the office of the Ombudsman has been used as a political weapon, rightly or wrongly," he said.

"As a result of that any confidence the unionists have in that office, to carry out its function of guarding police officers from false and malicious accusations and guarding the public from officers who step over the law, has disappeared."

The chief constable and the police ombudsman are expected to called before the Police Board soon, according to the SDLP's member Alex Attwood.

"What is most important is that the Policing Board is being addressed by the chief constable, by the police ombudsman and by the relatives in Omagh," he said.

"It is also important that the six recommendations of the Police Ombudsman's report become the work in progress of all those who are interested din a new beginning for policing in the north."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Conor McAuley reports:
"The Police Board is holding its first meeting since the very public row over the Omagh bomb investigation"
Chair of the Omagh Victims' Group Michael Gallagher:
"We have to listen and respect what Sir Ronnie has to say"
See also:

07 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid criticises Omagh report leaks
07 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Chief constable rejects Omagh claims
06 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Political fallout after Omagh revelations
07 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
NI police ombudsman's role
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