Omagh father wins inquiry challenge

Michael Gallagher
Michael Gallagher

The father of a young man killed in the Omagh bomb has won the legal right to challenge the Government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into the atrocity.
Michael Gallagher’s son Aiden was among 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, killed in the August 1998 outrage.
Mr Gallagher was in court today with his family and Stanley McComb, who lost his wife Ann in the blast, to hear his lawyers claim that the terrorist attack was at least arguably preventable.
A judge at the High Court in Belfast today ruled that Michael Gallagher has established an arguable case that the authorities are in breach of an investigative obligation.
Claims that intelligence may exist to back his belief that the Real IRA attack could have been prevented will now be explored at a full hearing in April.
In September 2013 Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers rejected calls for a public inquiry.
Central to the bid to have Ms Villiers’ decision judicially reviewed is a contention that the British Government has a duty under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights to protect lives and investigate the bombing.
The Omagh families argue that a range of intelligence from British security agents, MI5 and RUC officers could have stopped the killers in their tracks.
Granting leave to seek a judicial review, Mr Justice Treacy held that Article 2 duties were at least arguably engaged.
He also decided an arguable case had been established that the State is in breach of its obligation to conduct such an investigation into claims the attack could have been prevented.
The judge listed the case for a two-day hearing at the April.

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