Category: Archive

At Omagh inquest, families view horrific video

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

OMAGH, Co. Tyrone — Relatives of the 29 people and two unborn children killed in the Omagh bombing broke down and wept this week as they saw and heard for themselves the effects of the devastating Real IRA blast that ended their loved ones’ lives two years ago.

The bereaved families were offered the choice of staying to watch in the room where the inquest is being held, or to adjourn to a nearby private room where counselors were on hand, or to leave and go home without watching the videotape or hearing the police recordings of the blast.

The video film showed horrific scenes of dead and injured people lying bleeding in the street. It also showed severed limbs, screaming people searching for their mothers, fathers, sisters and friends.

Several families left the inquest to watch the three videos in a side room. Their sobbing and screaming could be heard outside. They said later that the sounds of crying on the footage were as upsetting as the terrible visual pictures.

The inquest is being held in Omagh into the massacre of those killed when a 500-pound car bomb went off in the County Tyrone town on Aug. 15, 1998.

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It is expected to last four weeks, but is restricted legally to inquiring into who died, when and where. The coroner has ruled against an application from one of the bereaved relatives for Francie Mackey, the chairman of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, to attend the inquest, saying his links with the bombing were speculative.

The inquest has no role in identifying who or what group was responsible, which is the responsibility of the police and the criminal justice system. One man has so far been charged with involvement, but those who directly planned and planted the bomb have so far escaped charges.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Adrian, 21, died in the explosion, said: "I thought at first, How could someone stand there and video a scene like that? Now I am glad they did. The opportunity should be given so everyone can see it, so that they can see the true horror of Omagh."

Marion Radford, whose son Alan, 16, was also killed, said: "When I saw the videos, I could not believe one human being could contemplate such destruction on another. It makes me angry these people are walking the streets.

"It was my solicitor who pointed Alan’s body out to me on the film. I was very near him. I don’t know how I couldn’t find him. I would probably have ended up in a mental hospital if I had."

The first film to be shown depicted an injured girl, aged about 13, wandering in a daze close to the bomb scene. She was crying: "Where’s mummy? Where’s mummy?" As several people crouched over one victim, a man desperately instructed them on first aid.

The second video had a commentary from the man filming it. He had an Australian accent and kept on saying, "You just would not believe this. You just would not believe what has [expletive] happened." His video was filled with the sound of crunching glass underfoot.

The coroner said the video was important because it showed that water mains had been ruptured by the blast. That hampered the rescue, because victims and body parts moved under the force of the water.

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