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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 17:47 GMT
Bomb memorial discussions 'frank'
Twenty-nine people died in Omagh bombing in August 1998
Twenty-nine people died in the Omagh bombing in August 1998
Relatives of the Omagh bomb victims have met with Victims' Minister David Hanson to discuss the delay in erecting a memorial stone.

The memorial has been planned for several years.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was killed in the bomb, described the talks as frank and said they would wait to see what help the minister could give.

"We will judge him on his performance rather than his words," he said.

"That was basically the way it was left. If there is not a quick resolution to this we will be back banging on his doors."

The relatives believe the delay has been caused by the Sinn Fein-dominated council who have objected to the wording for the memorial.

The words proposed for the monument were to read: "To honour and remember 31 people murdered and hundreds injured from three nations by a dissident republican terrorist car bomb."

Mr Gallagher said Sinn Fein objected to the word terrorist being used in the memorial.

Sinn Fein councillor and assembly member Barry McElduff rejected this, saying he had not seen the words before Thursday.

However, earlier his party colleague Councillor Sean Clarke said: "Omagh council has unanimously agreed to unveil a memorial stone in 2008, to mark the 10th anniversary of the tragedy and the council has also unanimously agreed the wording of the inscription."

Speaking ahead of his meeting with the relatives Mr Hanson said he was "genuinely sorry" the row had developed.

Mr Gallagher said difficulties first surfaced when they presented their form of words to a special working grouping involving Omagh District Council representatives earlier this year.

He said: "They thanked us and then at the next meeting said it's better to broaden this out for consultation and better to have widespread public support.


"The real reason is because the council is not willing to accept wording on the stone that states the facts of what happened on August 15 1998."

"We're talking about a Sinn Fein-controlled council, and they are not going to have it, or it would have happened," Mr Gallagher added.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey, who has met with the Omagh families, said all the families wanted was a simple plaque at the point where the blast occurred.

"Nobody is actually suggesting that the Provisional republican movement did it. The victims' group isn't suggesting that," he said.

"But the fact is there's resistance to the wording and it's merely prolonging their agony and not helping their healing.

"They should be entitled to have a simple memorial."

In a statement, Omagh District Council said the working group believed "it was essential to create a memorial which would be valued and respected by the whole community".

"This process has been a long-term project which has been sensitive to the healing process within the community," it continued.

Twenty nine people, including a woman pregnant with twins, died in the explosion on 15 August 1998.

BBC Newsline's Julian O'Neill reports from Omagh

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