Omagh bomb: Martin McGuinness criticises inquiry decision (BBC News Northern Ireland)

Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister has criticised a government decision not to hold a public inquiry into the Omagh bomb.

Martin McGuiness said he believed it was “a mistake” for Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers to rule out an inquiry into the Real IRA attack.

There were “insufficient grounds” for a further inquiry, Ms Villiers said.

First Minister Peter Robinson said her decision “does not stop us from having a more thorough investigation”.

The first and deputy first ministers were speaking in New York, during their joint investment trip to the United States.

Mr McGuinness said: “I think it’s a mistake. I think Theresa Villiers has closed down a demand that the families have had for many years, and a real hope that the families have had that they would get a proper investigation into what happened at that time.”

Mr Robinson said: “There is still justice required, and because there isn’t going to be an inquiry – and the secretary of state has made that clear – I think that does not stop us from having a more thorough investigation.

“There are a lot of areas that have been raised by the families that need to be thoroughly investigated,” the first minister added.

The car bomb, planted by dissident republicans, killed 29 people in the County Tyrone town in August 1998.

Some of the victim’s families have led a high-profile campaign for a cross-border public inquiry, amid allegations that the security services could have done more to prevent the Real IRA attack.

After Ms Villiers ruled out their request on Thursday, the campaigners said they would seek a judicial review of the secretary of state’s decision.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was murdered in the bombing, said they would meet their lawyers on Friday to “plot a way forward”.

However, not all of the victims’ families are involved in the public inquiry campaign.

Kevin Skelton who lost his wife Mena in the atrocity, said his family “went through hell to get their lives back on track and they felt they did not want any more about Omagh, they want to move on with their lives”.


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