Omagh bombing suspect faces 29 murder charges
Seamus Daly is accused of carrying out the worst single atrocity of the Irish Troubles
A prominent Irish republican appeared in an Irish court yesterday, charged with the murders of all 29 people killed in the 1998 Omagh bombing, the worst single atrocity of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
A judge at Dungannon Magistrates' Court ordered Seamus Daly, 43, held in custody as police kept guard outside. No-one has ever been convicted in a criminal court of carrying out the Omagh bombing, which tore through the market town on a busy Saturday afternoon just a few months after the signing of peace accords which largely ended the 30 years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.
However, relatives of some of the victims brought a civil action against five men they claimed were responsible, including Daly.
The Belfast High Court ruled in 2009 that Daly and three of the other four men were responsible and they were later ordered to pay more than €1.94 million (HK$20.85 million) in damages to the relatives.
Daly has always denied involvement in the bombing.
He has been charged with 29 counts of murder, two additional offences linked to the Omagh explosion and two linked to an attempted explosion in Lisburn in April 1998.
Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was killed at Omagh, was in court for Daly's appearance.
He said earlier that the victims' families had never given up their fight for justice. And he promised they would continue.
"It has been a long, difficult struggle," Gallagher told BBC radio.
"We have put the police, and both the British and Irish governments, under tremendous pressure and we continue to do that and we don't apologise for it.
"We think of the people that we lost - in our case our only son Aiden - and that gives us the strength to carry on."
Some of the relatives believe that the full truth of the events leading up to the attack has never been fully revealed.
They were angry when the British government last year ruled out a public inquiry into the bombing's circumstances.
Acting on a series of conflicting bomb warnings, police had moved shoppers and shop owners into a part of Omagh where a car packed with 225kg of explosives was parked, unwittingly putting the crowd directly in the path of the huge blast.
A fireball swept from the epicentre of the explosion and shop fronts were blown back on to shoppers inside.
The blast was so powerful that some of the victims' bodies were never found.
The Real IRA - which sees itself as the successor to the original paramilitary Irish Republican Army - claimed responsibility for the attack three days later.