OMAGH REPORT BURIED
The full Nally Report into the 1998 Omagh bombing cannot be
published for security reasons, Dublin's Minister for Justice has
Declaring that the tiny breakaway 'Real IRA' was planning similar
attacks, Michael McDowell insisted that the publication of the
report would lend assistance to republican dissidents.
"My first duty must be to prevent another Omagh, and therefore
not to put into the public domain something which assists them in
changing their modus operandi so the next time they can get away
with it", Mr McDowell told the parliament in Dublin.
The bomb was constructed in the 26 Counties and driven across the
border to the Tyrone town of Omagh, where it detonated with
devastating consequences. Warnings phoned to different
organisations proved insufficient to clear the area, and 29
people lost their lives in the ensuing explosion.
In recent years, allegations have been made by Garda police
detective sergeant Dermot Nally that the Gardai had sufficient
information to prevent the bombing -- including the identity of
the bomb-maker, the location of the bomb's manufacture and the
timing of the attack.
But following the conclusion of the Nally investigation, the
Minister for Justice declared that there was no truth in the
allegations that the Garda police failed to give information to
the RUC in the North that could have prevented the bombing.
However, speculation that the bombing was allowed to proceed by
the police forces -- possibly to protect an informer or for other
military purposes -- has only been fuelled by the failure to
publish the Nally report.
Rejecting the families' desire to obtain the truth on the matter,
Minister McDowell said: "it is simply not a sustainable
proposition that the victims of crime have a right to all
information irrespective of its implications for national
security, the rule of law and the rights of others".
The report found there was no truth in allegations that the Garda
failed to give information to the RUC that could have prevented
the Omagh bombing.
Mr Enda Kenny, leader of Fine Gael, asked Mr McDowell whether a
new inquiry into the bombing could be initiated - based on the
model adopted by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory who examined
cases of collusion in both parts of Ireland.
Mr McDowell replied the Cory investigation "operated on the basis
of an absence of statutory powers. If you don't have statutory
powers there is only so far that you can go."
He added that a tribunal of inquiry like the Mahon or Moriarty
tribunals "would be wholly unsuitable for this because they are
required to operate in public and you just couldn't have a public
tribunal dealing with this kind of material".
Mr McDowell was then asked about the failure to interview a key
witness -- reportedly an informer -- who "is currently being
protected by this State under the Witness Protection Scheme".
The Minister for Justice disputed this and pointed out that a
number of efforts were made to obtain information from the
Labour Party leader, Mr Pat Rabbitte, pointed out that the
Ombudsman in the North was able to provide the families most
affected by the Omagh tragedy with a considerable amount of
"I strongly believe the Government must find a way to provide the
families with as much information as is possible, without
compromising the undoubtedly valid arguments relating to
sensitive security material."
Yesterday some of the relative of the Omagh bomb victims snubbed
the Taoiseach during his visit to the talk. Instead they
travelled to Dublin to meet Mr Kenny after Mr Ahern said he could
only spare a short time to hold discussions with them.
Mr Kenny said the relatives of the Omagh victims had been treated
disgracefully by the Government.
"Despite repeated promises made in the Dail, the Government has
reneged on its commitment to publish the findings of the Nally
Report, which investigated whether the Garda withheld information
from police in the North which could have helped to prevent the
bombing," he said.
In Omagh, Laurence Rush, whose wife Libby was killed by the
bomb, said their meeting with Mr Ahern had been too short.
"It didn't allow for in-depth argument and discussion about
things we are concerned about. I reminded him that all the people
who had been charged, they are not charged with Omagh."
He reiterated the families' demand that the secret Nally Report
into Garda handling of intelligence on the bombing be published
in full, or a public investigation be established.