Omagh bomb families demand cross-border inquiry29/11/2006 - 17:57:32
Families of victims killed in the Omagh Bombing tonight called on the Irish government to launch a full cross-border public inquiry into the atrocity.
Survivors also attacked the publication of an edited version of a report investigating claims by a garda that officers ignored crucial intelligence which could have prevented the 1998 bombing.
The Nally Report found the allegations by Detective Sergeant John White were motivated solely by concerns about his own career.
However, the Omagh Support and Self Help Group maintains key witnesses were not interviewed in its preparation.
“The Omagh families directly affected were never given an opportunity to have an input in to the inquiry,” said spokesman Michael Gallagher.
“The families are deeply concerned by the timing of the censored report into garda intelligence and John White’s allegations, in the light of court proceedings involving John White.
“We believe this report is of limited value and now call on the Government to hold a full cross border public inquiry into the full circumstances of the 1998 Omagh Bombing.”
The Real IRA attack on Omagh on August 15, 1998, killed 29 people and injured around 300 others.
The Nally Report concluded there was no foundation to Det Sgt White’s claims that a Real IRA informer told him in advance of the 1998 attack about a car which was to be used in a bombing but that on passing this warning on to a senior officer, it was never passed to the RUC.
“Indeed it is clear from what he said to the group that he made no allegation or mention whatever of his concerns to any person, not even his wife, until after his arrest on 21 March, 2000,” it said.
The report states that there was a direct connection between the difficulties he found himself in with his superiors in the force and the making of his allegations concerning the Omagh bombing.
It adds that Det Sgt White’s assertion that he was motivated to make the information available by a sense of responsibility to the victims is “inherently incredible”
The Nally Group, headed by the former Secretary to the Government Dermot Nally, was appointed in April 2002 to examine matters arising from the Report raising concerns of the activity of An Garda Siochana officers during 1998.
Justice Minister Michael McDowell tonight told the Dáil he was always committed to producing an edited version of the report once criminal proceedings against Det Sgt White were disposed of.
The officer, who is currently suspended from the force, has been acquitted of the unlawful possession of a shotgun in May 1998, despite being heavily criticised in three reports investigating alleged garda corruption in Donegal.
“This commitment was given not on the basis that any public interest would be served in disseminating allegations which had been found to be baseless but in deference to the wishes of the families of the victims of the Omagh atrocity - an atrocity that marked one of the darkest days in the history of this island,” he said, defending the move.
“However, that commitment was subject to the understanding that, even with the criminal proceedings being disposed of, I could not publish the report in full because of the security sensitivity of some of the information it contained.
“My inability to give a fuller account did not sit easily with me – given the gravity of the allegations made.
“Consequently, I hope that this edited version will be seen as a legitimate balance between the public interest in full accountability and the exigencies of the security requirements of the State.”< r McDowell emphasised that the allegations made by John White, although very serious, are quite different from allegations claiming that the gardai could actually have prevented the Omagh bombing.
“As I have already mentioned, the Nally Group found that there is simply no basis whatsoever for these allegations and that they were motivated solely by base reasons, involving the dishonourable abuse of the grief of the Omagh victims’ families,” he said.
“In producing an edited version, I am very much conscious that there will be those who will question the transparency of the editing process and query the validity of the product of such editing.
“No matter what, I am, as I have already indicated, in a difficult position in trying to respond to such concerns, as the only way to put them beyond doubt would be to detail what was edited out, which defeats the whole purpose of editing in the first place.”
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