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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 13:17 GMT
Conviction 'unlikely' over Omagh
NI's chief constable Sir Hugh Orde
Sir Hugh has defended the performance of police
NI's Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has said it is "highly unlikely" anyone will be convicted for the Omagh bomb.

On Thursday, Sean Hoey was cleared of 58 charges, including the murders of 29 people in the Real IRA attack in 1998.

The body that holds the police to account is to meet Sir Hugh to discuss scathing comments by the trial judge.

But Sir Hugh defended the performance of police adding that detectives were hindered by mistakes during the initial investigation after the bombing.

In an interview for the BBC, Mr Orde conceded that exhibits were "not to the standard and were not packaged in the way we would do it now".

But he added: "It was an absolutely genuine attempt to do our very best with what little we had.

The Omagh bomb scene
Twenty-nine people were killed in the Omagh bomb

"I think we discharged that responsibility to the best of our ability with what was available."

Mr Hoey, 38, of Molly Road, Jonesborough in south Armagh, was the only person to have been charged with the Omagh murders - one of the worst atrocities of Northern Ireland's Troubles.

As he was giving his verdict, Mr Justice Weir said two officers working on the Omagh case were guilty of a "deliberate and calculated deception"

Afterwards, Victor Barker, who lost his son, James, in the bombing, said ex-RUC chief constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan could not be allowed to continue as head of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

Sir Ronnie was head of the RUC at the time of the Omagh bombing.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan
Sir Ronnie heads up the Inspectorate of Constabulary

Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward failed to give public support to Sir Ronnie, following the damning comments.

When asked by the BBC if Sir Ronnie still had the confidence of the government, the Northern Ireland Secretary would not be drawn.

"The lessons to be learned from this judgement are far and wide. It is important that we look at this very, very carefully," Mr Woodward told BBC Radio Ulster.

At a news conference later on Friday, Mr Woodward said: "I think it is extremely important that nobody reaches premature conclusions or makes any premature judgements.

"That obviously includes any implications for the then chief constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan.

"So my comments this morning have to be seen in that context."

Policing Board Chairman Sir Desmond Rea said they wanted to discuss the case.

"Copies of the judgement and verdict were being sent to all board members," he said.

Human Rights Commissions on both sides of the border have called for the British and Irish governments to set up an independent judicial inquiry into the bombing.

At the heart of the case were the bomb timers used in the attacks. Forensic scientists had examined them for both fibres and Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA.

LCN is a relatively recent development of DNA science which allows analysis of tiny samples of skin cells, sweat and other bodily fluids.

The prosecution claimed that the forensic examination had shown links to the south Armagh electrician.

Journalist and film maker John Ware's reaction


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