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