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BBC NI's Karen Atkinson reports
The file on the Omagh bomb will not be closed
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Monday, 13 March, 2000, 14:37 GMT
Omagh bombers 'may never be tried'
bomb damage
The bomb had a devastating impact
The head of police in the Irish Republic says those who planned the Omagh bombing may never be brought to justice, even though he knows who was behind it.

Twenty-nine people were killed and more than 200 injured by the explosion in the County Tyrone town in 1998. So far only one man has been charged in connection with the incident.

Evidence needed

In an interview in Monday's issue of the Irish News in Belfast, the Garda Siochana Commissioner, Pat Byrne, says he knows the identities of those behind the blast.

There is a price to be paid for democracy, that a person is innocent until proven guilty

Pat Byrne, Irish Police chief
But he says it is proving difficult to gather evidence linking suspects with the attack.

"When you know who carried out the thing, what you are trying to do is get the evidence to link them - and they are very much trying to ensure that you don't get the evidence to link them," he said.

Mr Byrne added: "Intelligence is no good. If I could prosecute people for all the intelligent information I had on them, I can tell you a lot more people would be in jail."

Asked whether he thought those behind the bomb attack would not be prosecuted, he replied: "Sadly, possibly, and maybe probably."

He added: "There is a price to be paid for democracy, that a person is innocent until proven guilty."


The bomb was planted by the Real IRA, a breakaway republican faction opposed to the Good Friday Agreement, which had been signed four months earlier.

memorial service for victims
The residents of Omagh will never forget
Two baby girls, five other children, 14 women and five men were among the victims.

The one man who has so far been charged, Colm Murphy, from Newry, County Down, has yet to receive a date for his trial.

Mr Byrne also admitted there was a possibility of a further Real IRA attack.

"There is an increased state of alert, I would be dishonest if I said that there wasn't," he said.

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See also:

07 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh bomb accused refused legal aid
15 Feb 00 | Northern Ireland
Plea to PM over bomb atrocity
16 Aug 98 | Latest News
Who are the 'Real IRA?'
18 Mar 99 | Focus
Omagh bomb claims 29th victim
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