A 35-year-old electrician has become the first person to be formally charged with murder over the 1998 Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland. Sean Hoey, currently in jail for alleged possession of explosives, has been charged with the deaths of the 29 victims. The bombing was the worst atrocity in 30 years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was killed in the blast, wanted to be in court.
“I think it’s important to be here, it’s important to see how the process works, it’s better to come and see it firsthand,” he said. The 200-kilo car bomb exploded in the middle of the market town on a busy Saturday afternoon. Among the victims was a pregnant woman carrying twins. A further 200 people were injured.
The bomb was claimed by the Real IRA – a breakaway faction of the mainstream Irish Republican Army – opposed to the 1997 ceasefire. The only person jailed so far in connection with the attack, publican Colm Murphy had his conviction for conspiracy to cause an explosion, quashed in January. He is facing a retrial. In a landmark civil action, relatives of the some of the victims are suing five men they blame for the attack.