Omagh bomb inquiry to be raised by minister with Irish counterparts

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A Northern Ireland Office minister has pledged to raise with his Irish counterparts the issue of Dublin also holding an inquiry into the Omagh bombing.

Lord Caine was responding to calls at Westminster to bring pressure to bear on the Irish Government, amid claims its record on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles was “at best patchy and at worst non-existent”.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, has announced there would be an independent inquiry into the dissident republican blast which hit the Co Tyrone town on August 15 1998.

The attack killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, and injured hundreds of others.

Raising the issue in Parliament, Northern Ireland’s former first minister Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee said: “I am afraid to say the Irish Government’s record on dealing with the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland is at best patchy and at worst non-existent.”

Pointing to meetings she had attended in Dublin with victims’ groups, the non-affiliated peer said: “We did receive tea and sympathy. I have to say we received little else.”

Lady Foster added: “I want to ask the minister, will the Government now put pressure on the Irish Government to hold a similar inquiry in the Republic of Ireland?

Lord Caine said it was not within the power of either the courts or UK Government to force Dublin to hold an inquiry.

He added: “But it is an issue which I do take seriously. I will raise this again including when I next see Irish ministers to discuss legacy matters in Dublin or elsewhere.”

Former DUP deputy leader Lord Dodds of Duncairn : “Can I add to the calls for the Irish Republic to be put under pressure to do more in relation to this and to other areas where the IRA carried out terrorist activity in Northern Ireland and found a safe haven in the Irish Republic for many, many years.”

He added: “Many of us really are concerned about the lack of input from the Irish Republic for getting justice for victims. I urge the minister to continue to press the Irish Republic on this matter.”

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