A Northern Irish man, Seamus Daly, thought to be a leading member of the notorious real Irish Republican Army, has been charged with 29 counts of murder in connection with the 1998 Omagh bombings. Daly is a well-known republican in the terrorist group the real IRA which wanted Northern Ireland to leave the UK and become part of the Republic of Ireland. Originally from country Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland, Daly was arrested on Monday for both the 29 murders of the Omagh bombings as well as four further charges, some in connection with an attempted bombing in Lisbon of the same year.
The biggest individual atrocity of the “Troubles” – that plagued Northern Ireland from the beginning of the 1960s until roughly 1998 – it consisted of a car bombing which killed 29 people and injured over 200. The picture shown illustrates the street and car where the bomb exploded minutes before it happened in 1998, and that same street ten years later. Often seen as a retaliation against the Belfast Good Friday Agreement established earlier that year which called for an end to the conflict, the real IRA claimed responsibility for the attack three days after it happened. The timing of the attack was almost as shocking as the devastating nature of it, as the ongoing conflict over the status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom which had led to various violent incidents finally seemed to be reaching a close as both sides agreed to the Belfast Good Friday Agreement in April 1998. The Omagh car bomb was set off on the 15th of August that year killing 21 people on impact and a further eight as they were rushed to hospital – 29 murders in total all of which Seamus Daly is now being charged over.
The huge number of casualties included a woman pregnant with twins as well as many young children, a fact which only added to the outrage and heart-break felt by the Irish population in the aftermath of the bombing. The families of those murdered have been campaigning for years to know the truth about what happened, and have those responsible for the attack brought to justice. Although four members of the terrorist group, the IRA, were implicated in the attack and ordered to pay over a million pounds in compensation to the victims families, none of them has ever been successfully prosecuted for the crime in a criminal court. Various arrests have been made in the past, but always resulted in the accused walking free as no allegations could be substantiated against them.However, Daly appealed against the civil case result and the second verdict was the same as the first: guilty.
Daly and many of the others implicated in the crime have always maintained their innocence in connection with the matter. A request for bail was not granted for Daly last night and he was remanded in custody. While he might continue to plead not-guilty to the charges, the fact that Daly has finally been criminally charged with the 29 murders that resulted from the Omagh bombing in 1998 has come as a welcome step of progress for those still grieving over the deaths. Daly is now due to appear in court to defend himself against the allegations later today.
By Rhona Scullion