Omagh bomb retrial next year

Published Tuesday, 06 November 2012
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The retrial of two men being sued over the Omagh bomb atrocity will not begin until next year, it was confirmed.

Omagh bomb retrial next year
The scene of devastation in Omagh after the 1998 bomb. (© PA)

A civil action brought against Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly has been delayed due to the ill-health of a senior defence barrister.

But depending on her availability the case is now expected to go ahead early in the new year.

Mr Justice Gillen, who will hear the lawsuit, told lawyers at the High Court in Belfast: "This trial will start on January 14."

Murphy and Daly are defending an action brought by relatives of some of the 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, killed in the 1998 Real IRA outrage.

They were ordered to face a retrial after their appeals against being held liable for the bombing were upheld.

Two other men found responsible in the initial landmark ruling, convicted Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt and fellow dissident republican Liam Campbell, failed to have the findings against them overturned.

The case, which is expected to last for six weeks, was supposed to get underway last month.

Mr Justice Gillen agreed to an adjournment after being informed of the barrister's condition.

Meanwhile, it was also disclosed in court on Tuesday that British and Irish government officials are studying a report into the bombing for any potential public interest immunity issues.

Lawyers for Murphy and Daly have launched a legal bid to gain access to the dossier commissioned by the Omagh Self-Help and Support Group.

The report, produced by a London legal consultancy firm as part of attempts to secure a public inquiry, examined all the inquiries and investigations to date on both sides of the border.

Although its findings have not been made public the Omagh families say it contains evidence that British and Irish authorities could have prevented the bombing.

It was presented to former Secretary of State Owen Paterson in June.

Murphy and Daly's legal representatives want to see the contents as part of their defence of the civil action.

The Omagh families are opposed to disclosure, claiming the report was compiled for a specific purpose and has only been accessed by senior government officials.

A disclosure application is due to take place in court later this month.

Ahead of that hearing, a barrister for the Omagh Self-Help and Support Group told Mr Justice Gillen: "The report is being looked into in relation to public interest issues that may arise."

The judge also questioned arrangements being put in place to travel to the Irish Republic to take evidence from Garda witnesses in the main civil action.

He warned that dates would not be put back to suit lawyers.

"Whatever date the Dublin court says they are available junior or senior counsel or whoever is available will just have to attend," he said.

© UTV News
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