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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Bush backs Omagh bomb action
Bob Geldof and Barry McGuigan supported campaign
Omagh families have been trying to raise funds
US President George W Bush has expressed support for a planned civil action by bereaved families against those they believe carried out the Omagh bombing.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan died in the 1998 bombing by the dissident republican Real IRA, said Mr Bush's backing was a very welcome boost to the relatives' campaign.

The families have been campaigning to raise more than a million pounds to lodge the action.

Only one man in the Irish Republic has been convicted of charges connected with the bombing.

George W Bush:
George W Bush: "We wish you well in pursuing justice"

Twenty-nine men, women and children died and hundreds were injured when the Real IRA detonated a car bomb in the County Tyrone town on 15 August 1998 - a Saturday when the centre was full of shoppers.

Mr Gallagher received a letter from President Bush's Northern Ireland advisor Richard Haass, expressing their support for the civil action.

"We are heartened that people in Northern Ireland are turning away from violence and instead relying on normal political and legal means to resolve issues and disputes," Mr Haass said in the letter.

"In that vein, we commend your decision to pursue legal civic actions against those responsible for the Omagh atrocity.

"The president and I thank you for keeping us informed of your endeavours and wish you well in pursuing justice for the victims of the Omagh tragedy and their families."

'Important boost'

Mr Gallagher said the US administration's policy of zero terrorism should be seen as an example.

He told BBC Radio Ulster: "The importance of this is that America will support victims when they stand up to be counted.

"We saw this early on in this administration, when one of the first things they did was to put the Real IRA and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and the Irish Prisoners' Welfare Association on their foreign terrorists list.

"I think we have seen right through this administration, that when people masquerade as victims supporters or politicians, that they will be challenged, and I think that is important."

The families' campaign has recently been backed by celebrities and politicians including rockstar Bob Geldof, former boxer Barry McGuigan and Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson.

Bereaved relative Michael Gallagher:
"America has shown that it is prepared to support victims when they have stood up to be counted"
See also:

20 Feb 02 | Northern Ireland
'Shame' over Omagh civil action
28 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Mandelson urges Omagh bomb justice
28 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh families to sue 'suspects'
11 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Real IRA 'must be accountable'
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