| 5.3°C Dublin

dissident death Omagh bombing campaigner says Michael McKevitt will face justice in the 'next world'

Michael Gallagher’s son Aiden was among the 31 people killed by the terrorist bomb planted by republican dissidents led by McKevitt.


Michael McKevitt

Michael McKevitt

Michael McKevitt

THE leading campaigner for those who died in the horrific Omagh bombing said the death of Michael McKevitt should not stop the search for justice.

Michael Gallagher’s son Aiden was among the 31 people killed by the terrorist bomb planted by republican dissidents led by McKevitt.

Last night he told the Sunday World that, unlike those killed in the blast, McKevitt had the comfort of dying naturally.

“Here we are coming up to our 23rd year and not one person has been convicted of murder at Omagh. Not one person has served a day behind bars for the Omagh bombing.”

“From a family’s point of view it’s hugely frustrating,” he said.

“Michael McKevitt had the comfort of having his own family around him, our families died in the gutter in Omagh.

"It just seems so unfair we’ve been denied the justice we were promised both publicly and privately by Bertie Ahern, by Tony Blair and by Bill Clinton.”

“Michael McKevitt has escaped justice on this earth but we’re brought up to believe in there will be justice in the next world.”

Michael pointed out the responsibility for the bombing did not just lie with McKevitt.

“Michael McKevitt was not the only person connected with the Omagh bomb, there a number of people that are well-known and some that are not so well-known that the PSNI and the garda have never been successful in bringing before the courts.”

“It’s always going to be an open wound for people like ourselves. Justice is what we expect from society when we are wronged and this is the worst crime that anyone could commit.”

He said the families of those killed in the atrocity had expected those responsible would be brought to justice.

“The atmosphere at the time in Ireland and around the world at that time was complete horror.

"To have such a wicked evil act and not have any proper resolve for the families will always be an open wound.

“It will be a disgrace on society and on the people who are charged with delivering justice who have promised us remedies and yet here we are 23 years on still in the same position as we were on the night on 15 August 1998.”

The man with the blood of 29 innocent people on his hands, passed away at his Co. Louth home in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The 71-year-old had been battling cancer for a number of years after being given a terminal diagnosis in 2015.

He had a kidney removed in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease but tumours were found on other internal organs.

He had spent the last few years in an out of hospital and is understood to have been admitted as recently as November but was discharged before Christmas when it became clear nothing more could be done.

Seen as the founding father of the dissident movement, he was driven by a hardline fanaticism but is believed to have become an isolated and embittered figure.

He had become increasingly disenchanted with the failure of the dissident movement to take the armed struggle forward.

Married to Bernadette Sands McKevitt, sister of fabled IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, he had cut himself off from former comrades.

“He fell out with everybody,” a source told us, “he always wanted more, it was never enough.”

He said in recent years former close associates had turned their back on him.

The source said at no time did he show any remorse or regret for the slaughter he caused on the streets of Omagh and, despite worldwide revulsion, he never regarded it as a setback.

Kevin Skelton who lost his wife Pamela in the Omagh bomb also told the Sunday World that McKevitt’s death meant nothing.

“I don’t think it matters much at this stage, he was sentenced, done his time. At the end of the day it’s not going to bring anyone back. You don’t wish bad luck on the dead,” Mr Skelton said.

A founder member of the Real IRA, McKevitt is believed to have planned and devised the atrocity.

In August 1998 a huge car bomb exploded in the centre of the Co. Tyrone town killing 29 people; two unborn babies were also murdered.

A quartermaster for the IRA, he had a seat on the organisation’s ruling Army Council and was instrumental in negotiating an arms shipment with Libya’s Colonel Gadaffi.

He became disillusioned with the political direction of the republican movement from the mid-90s and was a staunch and vocal opponent of the Good Friday Agreement and was vehemently opposed to the IRA ceasefires of 1994 and 1997.

McKevitt was convicted in 2003 of membership of an illegal organisation and directing terrorism and handed a 20 -year sentence going on to serve 13 years behind bars.

No one has ever been convicted for carrying out the Omagh bomb but in 2009 McKevitt was found liable along with three other men by a civil court in a case taken by victims’ relatives.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors