Security agencies 'withheld intelligence' on Omagh bombing

Report alleges spies 'starved' police of clues that could have headed off Omagh bombing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 August, 2013, 3:41am


MI5, the FBI and Irish special branch police "starved" local police in Northern Ireland of vital intelligence that could have prevented the Real IRA bomb that killed 29 people at Omagh in 1998, a damning new report on the atrocity concludes.

The investigation, commissioned by families of the Omagh victims, will show evidence that they claim proves that information from two key informers inside the Real IRA - one in the United States, the other in the Irish Republic - was not passed on to the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The Omagh bomb was the single biggest atrocity of the Northern Ireland troubles. No one has been convicted in a criminal court in connection with the bombing in the County Tyrone market town.

Ahead of the publication of the report, the father of Aidan Gallagher, a young man killed in the blast, said access to new intelligence files proved that the FBI, the British security services and the Garda's crime and security branch [the Republic of Ireland's main anti-terrorist unit] all withheld vital information.

Michael Gallagher, who has campaigned since the atrocity for a cross-border public inquiry, said: "All good policing is based on intelligence, especially prior intelligence before any criminal act is committed. In the case of the events running up to the Omagh bomb, it is now clear that the police in the north were starved of information. The security forces in America, Britain and the Republic had two key agents inside the Real IRA but did not share the information they were providing to the police in Northern Ireland."

The Omagh Support and Self Help Group also demanded an inquiry. "The inquest did not inquire into the intelligence, the criminal prosecutions did not lead to any convictions, and the civil action did not deal with the issue of preventability," a spokesman for the group said.

The report, compiled by London law firm SBP, focuses on the role of two state agents who infiltrated the Real IRA. They were David Rupert, an American who was run by the FBI, and Paddy Dixon, a convicted criminal who procured cars in the Irish Republic for the Real IRA for transporting car bombs into Northern Ireland.

The Omagh families claim the "starving of intelligence" coming from Rupert and Dixon was designed to bolster the pair's credibility in the Real IRA's eyes. However, the campaigners claim the new report will show that this was a lethal error of judgment.