Omagh bomb inquiry: Irish Government ‘must hold a similar process in parallel’

Ireland must hold a “similar process in parallel” to the Omagh bomb inquiry, the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister has been urged.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris announced on Thursday that there would be an independent inquiry into the dissident republican blast which hit the Co Tyrone town on August 15 1998.

The bomb killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, and injured hundreds of others.

In 2021, a Belfast High Court judge recommended that the UK Government carry out an investigation into alleged security failings in the lead up to the attack, and that a similar probe should be established by the Irish Government.

On Thursday, Irish Justice Minister Simon Harris said they would await the details of the UK’s inquiry before announcing what action they would take.

Micheal Martin
Tanaiste Micheal Martin arrives at the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast for meetings with Stormont political leaders (Brian Lawless/PA)

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin met the major Stormont parties in Belfast on Friday.

During his first meeting of the day, with DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the Tanaiste was told his government must “step up to the mark”.

After the meeting, Sir Jeffrey said: “If this inquiry is to establish the full picture however, that requires the Republic of Ireland to also hold a similar process in parallel.

“The bomb was placed by republican terrorists in Omagh but it was planned, prepared and transported to Omagh from the Republic of Ireland.

“I trust the Irish Government will step up to the mark on this legacy issue as well as others.”

The issue was also raised with Mr Martin by the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP.

Doug Beattie
UUP leader Doug Beattie (right) following their meeting with Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said: “We did say to Micheal Martin that we believe the Irish Government needs to do more, not just on the Omagh bomb inquiry, we think they need to have their own inquiry in Ireland, but on legacy as as a whole, remembering, of course, that hundreds, if not thousands, of our citizens here in Northern Ireland were killed or injured by attacks, which came from Ireland, and the perpetrators returned back to Ireland again.

“We did make the point strongly that they need to do more.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said he believes it is “very clear that the Irish Government are committed to not being left behind in terms of this investigation”.

“I think yesterday was a very good day for the Omagh families, it took far too long,” he said.

“But I have no doubt that the Irish Government will step forward and not be left behind when it comes to investigating the Omagh bombing.”