Parliament

Omagh Bombing

Published date : 02 February, 2023
I thank the Secretary of State for the advance notice and sight of his statement. The bomb that exploded on Market Street in Omagh on 15 August 1998 left hundreds of people injured and saw 29 people have their lives taken away from them in the most brutal, callous and indiscriminate manner imaginable. Several children lost their lives, including in the unspeakable tragedy that afflicted the Monaghan family, when 18-month-old Maura lost her life—the youngest of three generations who lost their lives that day—along with her mother Avril, who was pregnant with twins. It remains the worst single atrocity in the history of the troubles.

The pain of those who survived and continue to live in the dark shadows of the events that day can only be intensified by the knowledge that the security services held information that may have been able to prevent what happened, especially since, in the words of Mr Justice Horner, there is “no doubt” that the authorities could have done more to disrupt the activities of those involved.

Today’s announcement by the Secretary of State is long overdue, in my view, but no less welcome. We thoroughly welcome the fact it has been made, and we commend the Secretary of State for taking this step toward enabling the families who were affected on that day to access a route by which the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth can hopefully at last be established.

Like the shadow Secretary of State, I cannot help but notice a difference. I believe that everybody should have access to justice, truth and reconciliation on equal terms, but there is a contrast between the approach that allows for an inquiry of this nature to go ahead and the way that the shutters will be brought down by the legacy Bill. I know that he will, but I ask the Secretary of State to reflect deeply on the difference that sets up for all those who continue to grieve losses from the troubles. I urge him to reflect deeply on the fact that there can surely never be any time bar on access to truth and justice.

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