Amnesty International today joined bereaved families in expressing extreme disappointment at the news that calls for an independent public inquiry into the circumstances of the Omagh bombing, have been rejected by the government. Earlier today, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers ruled out the possibility of holding a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the 1998 Omagh bombing.
In the attack on 15 August 1998, twenty-nine people were killed and over 200 injured.
The need for an independent public inquiry into Omagh, was one of the recommendations of a new Amnesty report out today, Northern Ireland: Time to Deal with the Past, which found that all victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland had been let down by a flawed and fragmented approach to dealing with the past
Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International, Patrick Corrigan, said:
“The UK government has made the wrong call. The Secretary of State's decision not to hold an inquiry into the Omagh bombings is a betrayal of the victims and families who have longed for answers for 15 years.
“It is unfair and cruel that families should have the door slammed in their face like this when all they want is the truth.
“What they, and Northern Ireland more broadly, deserve is the fullest account possible of what happened in Omagh. Questions of serious public concern surrounding the circumstances leading up to the Omagh bomb and the failed investigations that followed, remain unanswered.
“Theresa Villiers may feel that she has ended the matter with this refusal, but the questions will not go away. This is sadly symptomatic of the way the UK government has failed the people of Northern Ireland by refusing to investigate past abuses, ensuring that they continue to cast a dark shadow on our present.”
The 78-page Amnesty report published today, blames the failure to deliver truth and justice on a lack of political will from both the UK government and Northern Ireland’s political parties.
A failure to deliver a comprehensive approach to dealing with the ‘troubles’ has contributed to the societal division that is still rife in Northern Ireland, Amnesty found.