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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 20:21 GMT 21:21 UK
Legal move against Omagh 'suspects'
The scene of the Omagh bomb
The Omagh bomb left 29 people dead
Solicitors acting for the Omagh bombing relatives have been to a prison in the Republic of Ireland to serve writs on three men they accuse of involvement in the Real IRA atrocity.

Earlier on Friday, writs were left at the homes near Dundalk in County Louth of two other men alleged to have been involved in the 1998 attack.

The action is being taken on behalf of the Omagh Victims Legal Trust and is the first step in a civil case against the five men.

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.

Jason McCue
Jason McCue: Served writs
The solicitors have been accompanied to Portlaoise Prison in County Laois by Michael Gallagher who lost his son in the 1998 bombing.

The legal documents were served on Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell and Colm Murphy from whom the Omagh relatives are seeking damages.

Murphy is serving a sentence for conspiracy in connection with the bombing.

Michael McKevitt is on remand on terrorism charges. And Liam Campbell was convicted of membership of the Real IRA.

Speaking outside the prison, Michael Gallagher, the father of one of the victims said all the families wanted was the truth.

Portlaoise prison County Laois, Republic of Ireland
Three of those served with writs are being detained at Portlaoise prison in the Irish Republic
"Although we are pursuing this civil action we are also very much putting pressure on the police authorities both north and south to move forward with the criminal prosecution because at the end of the day everyone wants to see those responsible put behind bars," he said.

Earlier, a solicitor for the Omagh families, Jason McCue, visited the homes in the Dundalk area of two of the five men served with writs.

Long campaign

Neither Seamus Daly nor Seamus McKenna were at home, and the writs were either given to people believed to be relatives or posted through the door.

Afterwards Mr McCue, who was accompanied by Gardai, said he considered the writs served.

"I asked for them to be there in case there was a breach of the peace - there was not," he said.

"I went to the last known addresses of the two men, but neither came to the door.

"I am satisfied that they have been served."

On Thursday, the families were told their campaign to raise 1m to allow the civil action case to proceed had been successful.

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.

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

Stanley McCombe: Husband of one of those killed in the Omagh bombing
Stanley McCombe:"We want to be heard"
Stanley McCombe, whose wife was killed in the bombing, expressed relief that the legal action had begun.

"I think everyone is relieved that we have got to this stage, at least the families are doing something, the government does not seem to be doing too much," he said.

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
The BBC's Denis Murray reports from Belfast
"The relatives feel angry and hurt that they've had to seek justice themselves"
Click here for the full special report

Ombudsman report

Bomb trial verdict

Archive - the blast:

PANORAMA
See also:

26 Jul 02 | N Ireland
25 Jul 02 | N Ireland
25 Apr 02 | N Ireland
20 Feb 02 | N Ireland
28 Oct 00 | N Ireland
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