Omagh Bombing: Probe Announced into 1998 Attack

    Omagh Bombing: Probe Announced into 1998 Attack
    Last updated Feb 03, 2023
    Image credit: Reuters


    • It was announced on Thursday that the British government will hold an independent inquiry into the 1998 bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland, that killed 29 people.[1]
    • The inquiry will examine whether the car bombing could have been prevented, following a 2021 high court judgment that found the security forces may have been able to prevent the attack. The incident in 1998, carried our by Irish republican dissident group the Real IRA, was the worst attack of the troubles.[1]
    • The probe will have the full powers of the Inquiries Act 2005, giving authorities the ability to compel the production of all relevant materials and witnesses, and compel those witnesses to take evidence under oath.[2]
    • A previous investigation revealed that the Royal Ulster Constabulary received an anonymous warning on Aug. 4 1998 that an "unspecified" attack would take place on police in Omagh in 11 days time.[2]
    • The bombing in County Tyrone occurred four months after the signing of the Good Friday peace accord that ended ongoing sectarian violence in the region. The Real IRA, however, disagreed with the ceasefire agreement — no one was ever convicted in connection with the attack.[3]
    • The conflict known as The Troubles took place between Irish nationalist militants who sought union with the rest of Ireland, the British army, and pro-British militants who sought to keep the region part of the United Kingdom. More than 3,600 people were killed during the decades-long conflict.[3]


    Narrative A

    This inquiry is a step in the right direction in terms of providing answers and closure for the victims and families impacted by the Omagh Bombing. The public deserves to know if there were any shortcomings by British intelligence services that could have prevented the attack, though it is important to note that the attack was committed by republican terrorists who are ultimately responsible for the deaths.

    Narrative B

    The new inquiry into the Omagh bombing will likely come into conflict with the recently introduced Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, which seeks to draw a line under the past and close many inquiries and investigations into the events of The Troubles. Even though the probe is expected to have a narrow focus on whether the attack could have been prevented — rather than explicitly being intended to seek justice for the families affected by the Omagh attack — such an investigation will almost inevitably disappoint those who suffered due to the bombing, as well as draw attention to already controversial government legislation.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 37% chance that Northern Ireland will hold a reunification referendum before 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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