Northern Ireland

Omagh 'dissident republican' plaque not authorised by council

Image caption The plaque that was placed on the Market Street memorial by Kevin Skelton

A victims campaigner has placed a plaque on an Omagh bomb memorial referring to dissident republicans without council authorisation.

Kevin Skelton, whose wife Philomena died in the 1998 atrocity, placed a plaque on the Market Street memorial which refers to a "dissident republican terrorist car bomb".

The Omagh bomb exploded on 15 August 1998.

Twenty-nine people were killed, including a woman pregnant with twins.

No-one has ever been convicted.

Mr Skelton told the Tyrone Herald newspaper that he "wanted the truth to be told".

"The fact is that until this plaque was placed, a stranger coming into Omagh would not have known what happened because the memorial at the Market Street gave no indication," Mr Skelton said.

"For years now the truth about what happened has been denied by the council because of their decision not to include information on who carried out the Omagh bomb," he added.

Image caption Kevin Skelton lost his wife in the Omagh bomb

A Fermanagh and Omagh District Council spokesperson said they "are aware of this matter".

"This action was not authorised by the council and this matter will be reported to the council in due course."

Kevin Skelton also told the Tyrone Herald that there is nothing offensive written on the plaque but "it is important that the innocent victims are given the respect of having the truth told about how and why they died".

Image copyright PA
Image caption The bombing was carried out by the Real IRA just months after the Good Friday Agreement was signed

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was killed in the attack, told BBC Radio Foyle: "In the run-up to the anniversary, council officers had organised a committee to talk through issues leading up to the 20th anniversary.

"At an early stage in these talks, Kevin had expressed he was unhappy with the mirror memorial because it had never worked properly.

"He said he wanted a plaque on the part of the memorial in Market Street with a bit more information about the bombing and the victims.

"The consensus at the meeting was to deal with anniversary issues first and come back to this problem afterwards."

Mr Gallagher told BBC Radio Foyle that the first he heard about the new plaque was when he saw it in the Tyrone Herald newspaper.

He said he agrees with the sentiment Kevin Skelton has expressed on the plaque but "it would have been better if he had spoken to the other families and they could have agreed on something together".

Mr Skelton said he did talk to other families about the plaque.

Omagh bomb timeline

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A legal challenge to the government's refusal to hold a public inquiry into the bombing has been pushed back to 2019.

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