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Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Funds raised for Omagh bomb case
Bob Geldof and Barry McGuigan supported campaign
Omagh families received high profile support
Families bereaved by the Omagh bombing have succeeded in their bid to raise funds to launch legal action against those they believe carried out the attack.

Relatives of the 29 people and unborn twins killed in the 1998 Real IRA attack learned on Thursday that the Omagh Victims Legal Trust has raised the necessary 1m to lodge their legal action.

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

The success of a fundraising campaign, which received support from US President George Bush, means that solicitors representing the families can now serve writs on the five people alleged to be behind the attack.


A lot of good people have empowered the families to do what we are doing and we are thankful

Michael Gallagher Victim's father

A spokesman for the trust told the Daily Mail of their delight at what he described as a "fantastic breakthrough".

"Both we and the families had real concerns that we simply would not be able to raise enough support in time," he said.

Once the writs are served, a court hearing in Belfast will follow which will allow solicitors representing the families to present evidence which they believe connects the suspects to the attack.

Celebrity support

The 500lb car bomb was the single worst attack in Northern Ireland in over 30 years of the Troubles.

Michael Gallagher, who lost his son Aidan in the bombing, said the success of the fundraising campaign had given the families "some hope".

"A lot of good people swung in behind our campaign to raise the money we need to mount a civil action including prominent people like Peter Mandelson, Sir Bob Geldof, Barry McGuigan and Eddie Irvine," he said.

"But the vast majority of the money raised has come from ordinary people across Britain and Ireland.

"They have empowered the families to do what we are doing and we are thankful."

Michael Gallagher:
Michael Gallagher: "We have had to endure a lot of pressure"

Mr Gallagher said if the legal action was successful it would be a "a powerful tool" for many victims of terrorist violence - not just in Northern Ireland but around the world.

He confirmed solicitors from the United States, Spain and Israel had expressed interest in their case.

The civil action could be a "high point" for the Omagh families after what had been a difficult four years, Mr Gallagher said.

"We are coming up to the fourth anniversary of the bomb and the families have had to endure a lot of pressure and a very public grief," he said.

"This for us will be one of those times of better news over the past four years."

Last August the families' solicitors issued writs at the High Court in Belfast against the suspects and the Real IRA claiming damages.

The families then had 12 months to actually serve the writs on the five men.

Those named can ignore the civil legal action but the families can proceed with their case in open court.

If the court rules in favour of the families, the suspects face losing their personal assets.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Jason McCue, Omagh Relatives' solicitor:
"Hopefully we will be on our way to trial very soon"
Omagh relatives' spokesperson Michael Gallagher:
"We have been looking forward to this day for 18 months"
Click here for the full special report

Ombudsman report

Bomb trial verdict

Archive - the blast:

PANORAMA
See also:

25 Apr 02 | N Ireland
20 Feb 02 | N Ireland
28 Feb 01 | UK Politics
28 Oct 00 | N Ireland
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