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1998: Real IRA announce ceasefire

The dissident republican group behind Northern Ireland's worst atrocity has declared its violence at an end.

The Real IRA - which planted a car bomb that killed 29 people in Omagh less than a month ago - announced their "complete cessation" of violence at 0200 BST.

It followed a conference of the breakaway group's council on Monday night in County Louth. Police were instructed to allow the seven members to meet without fear of arrest.

The ceasefire was given a cautious welcome by the Irish and British Governments.

But UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the killers behind the Omagh bombing would still be brought to justice and would receive no amnesty.

In the County Tyrone town - where the damage caused by the bomb on 15 August is still very much in evidence - there were mixed feelings about the announcement.

"I hope they're honest and being truthful with what they're saying," said one man.

Another resident told the BBC: "I think they're a bit late - it doesn't mean a lot to the people here, anyway."

The self-styled Real IRA had announced a "suspension" of military activities three days after the bombing.


"The threat or use of violence will simply not be tolerated again"

Deputy First Speaker Seaumus Mallon

Since then they have been under intense pressure from the Irish Government and the Provisional IRA to announce a full ceasefire.

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Speaker Seaumus Mallon said the splinter group had finally realised that bloodshed was unacceptable.

"They have got the message from the community and from the two governments - the threat of violence or use of violence will simply not be tolerated again on this island", he said.

In Context
Despite the ceasefire the Real IRA continued to train and organise.

In February 2000 they were linked to a failed bomb attack explosion at Shackleton Barracks at Ballykelly, County Londonderry.

They are also suspected of carrying out several attacks in London in 2000 and 2001 - including the bombing of BBC Television Centre in west London.

The only person to have been charged in connection with the Omagh bomb is father-of-four Colm Murphy, 49.

In January 2002 he was sentenced to 14 years for conspiring to cause the explosion.


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