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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 18:52 GMT
Mandelson urges Omagh bomb justice
Omagh after the bomb
The investigation into the Omagh bombing goes on
Former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson has welcomed his successor in the Commons with a demand for more government action to bring the Omagh bombers to justice.

A month after leaving office in disgrace, the Hartlepool MP spoke from the backbenches of the anger of the families of the 29 people who died in the bombing in 1998.

One killing, one murder, one bombing is one too many.

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid
Mr Mandelson has given 10,000 to a fund which families hope will pay for a private prosecution of the dissident republicans suspected of planting the bomb.

He asked his successor John Reid "to re-affirm the government's goodwill towards the Omagh support group" and to work "to bring the perpetrators to justice at the earliest opportunity."

No distraction

Dr Reid promised he would and insisted he would not be distracted from pursuing peace by recent comments by an IRA leader's that its "war" was not over.

Former Northern Ireland secretary Peter Mandelson
Peter Mandelson praised his successor
Making a confident Commons debut as Mr Mandelson's replacement, Dr Reid admitted that making peace work would require a huge effort.

"There is nothing inevitable about the progress of this peace process," he said.

"It will involve compromise and the moral courage that has previously been shown to be continued."

War 'not over'

Senior IRA figure Brian Keenan suggested at the weekend that republicans may return to violence if a united Ireland is not achieved.

Dr Reid said: "I am not going to be distracted by those remarks."

Conservative Laurence Robertson told MPs that since the Good Friday Agreement there had been 2,000 paramilitary crimes including 65 murders and 828 bombings.

Dr Reid replied: "One killing, one murder, one bombing is one too many.

Rule of law

"There are continued assaults and acts of intimidation and I utterly condemn them.

"Wherever they come from they are at odds not only with the rule of law and any decent society but the overwhelming desire of the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland to create a society absolutely free of violence."

The meeting between Mr Blair and Mr Ahern is described as a stocktaking exercise to try to end the differences between the parties which are in favour of the Good Friday Agreement.

These include the reforms of the police, decommissioning of weapons and the gradual withdrawal of the army from Northern Ireland.

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See also:

28 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Ahern plays down NI breakthrough
27 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein defends IRA comments
28 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Prime ministers continue NI talks
25 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Mandelson: 'I won't return to cabinet'
19 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Mandelson's 10,000 Omagh gesture
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