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The Omagh Bomb - 15 August 1998

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Appendix B: Police Press Releases on the Omagh Bomb

Press Release; August 15, 1998 22:45pm GMT; OMAGH BOMBING

The death toll after the terrorist bombing of Omagh Town centre now stands at 25, 15 Female, one of whom is a baby and 10 Males. Hundreds of ordinary shoppers were also injured in the attack.

Initial telephone calls to local media outlets, claiming to be from the IRA, spoke of a bomb at the Courthouse in the Co. Tyrone town. Police were evacuating the immediate area when the device exploded several hundred yards away in the busiest shopping area of the town where many of those trying to find safety had congregated.

The death toll has already exceeded that of any previous terrorist attack in Northern Ireland.  The previous highest total killed in an attack on a town centre followed the IRA Poppy day massacre in Enniskillen in November 1987, when 11 people died and 63 were injured.  The largest singe atrocity was the murder of 18 soldiers killed in a bomb attack at Narrowater, Warrenpoint, in August, 1979.

Speaking after today's attack, the local Sub Divisional Commander spoke of his heartbreak at the horrific casualties. "What chance have any of us got when we are told the bomb is at a courthouse, when the actual target is the ordinary townspeople in a busy shopping area hundreds of yards away? "There can be no ifs or buts' about this: there are no so called 'legitimate targets', there can be no excuse whatever for putting the lives of hundreds of people at risk. Such people serve no cause but that of murder and mayhem" The officer praised the extraordinary efforts of ambulance, fire hospital and police caught up in this tragedy. "There efforts, and those of ordinary people of Omagh, is in stark contrast to the callousness of those who planned and execute this cowardly attack.Such people have no place in the Northern Ireland that the vast majority of people want to see."

And he pledged: " With the help of the decent people of Northern Ireland , we will do everything in our power to ensure those responsible for this outrage are brought to justice". The Royal Ulster Constabulary has issued an emergency telephone service for members of the public concerned for the safety of friends and relatives. It is Belfast +44 (0)1232 673371.

Press Release; August 16th, 1998; 12:45pm; OMAGH BOMBING UPDATE

The report of the scale of the tragedy continues to unfold and reverberate around the world.    Nine children and nineteen adults murdered, over 100 still retained in several hospitals throughout Northern Ireland many in a critical condition.   In the hours following the tragedy over 200 people received treatment for varying degrees of injury.

The Chief Constable speaking from the scene said "This is an attack, not carried out against the police or the army, but against the people of Omagh. We have had men, women and children slaughtered, slaughtered by murderers who want to murder, slaughtered by murderers who have nothing else to offer but murder, people who gave us a totally inaccurate warning, people who phoned to say there was a bomb close to the Court House and as our officers searched and moved people from the area of the Court House, a bomb detonated some 400 yards away." Mr Flanagan went on to announce that Detective Superintendent Eric Anderson will head the inquiry team into this atrocity. The bomb is believed to have been conveyed to the scene in a red or maroon Vauxhall Cavalier.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary has issued an emergency telephone service for members of the public concerned for the safety of friends and relatives. It is Belfast +44 (0)1232 673371.

Press Release; August 16th, 1998; 19:00pm; The Queen and many others condemn the bombing.

The Queen spoke of her heartfelt sympathy for the injured and bereaved in a statement released by Buckingham Palace.
She said: "I was shocked to hear of the appalling crime in Omagh, which resulted in so many deaths and injuries, Please pass on my heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved, injured and those others who have suffered in their distress"

Warning was "totally inaccurate"

The RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan said it was hard not to believe that the terrorists had deliberately given the wrong location of the bomb.   "It was a totally inaccurate warning. To say there was a bomb planted at the courthouse and as my officers evacuated and searched that area, for a bomb to detonate 400 yards down the road. It's difficult to come to any other conclusion. "This is an act of terrorism not against the police or the security forces but against the people of Omagh. "Many men, women and children were killed by murderers who wanted to murder, who have nothing else to offer. "Our thoughts go out to all those injured, to their families and to those who have been bereaved,"he added.  Mr Flanagan said he believed the bomb had been planted in a maroon Vauxhall Astra car and appealed to anyone who may have seen the car during the day to come forward.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has described the attack as "a senseless act of savagery". Mr Blair, who was on holiday in France, said, "I can barely express the sense of grief I feel for the victims of this appalling evil act of savagery," he said. "But our emotion has got to be not just outrage and determination to bring the perpetrators to justice but an equal determination that these people will not succeed in returning Northern Ireland to the past. "There is a future for Northern Ireland and even amongst the grief and sense of loss of the families, we have to carry on to give the people of Northern Ireland the future they deserve," he added.

First Minister David Trimble, who is returning immediately from holiday, said it was the worst atrocity in 30 years of republican violence, he added that the tragedy would never have happened if the IRA had decommissioned its weapons. He went on to say: "Sinn Fein cannot escape its responsibility in this bloody atrocity"

SDLP leader John Hume called those behind the bomb "undiluted fascists". "It's shattering. It's terrible for the people of Omagh and for the families who have lost their loved ones. "The people who carried this out are appalling murderers determined to achieve their political objectives,"

President Clinton last night condemned the bombing by saying "I renew my pledge to stand with the people of Northern Ireland against the perpetrators of violence; they will find no friends here

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said: "This is the most evil deed in years, from our point of view , we will continue to work in dealing with this particular group, with the RUC and the Gardai ".

Cardinal Basil Hume The Archbishop of West minister said in a statement "To bring such sadness and suffering to the people of Omagh at this stage is a crime against humanity "

The Royal Ulster Constabulary has issued an emergency telephone service for members of the public concerned for the safety of friends and relatives. It is Belfast +44 (0)1232 673371.

Press Release; August 16th, 1998; 20:30pm; Omagh Bombing


Gordon Brewer The Chief Constable of the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan joins me from Belfast. Mr Flanagan what's the latest information on the investigation into this bombing?
Chief Constable Well of course the painstaking investigation is now well underway, and we believe through co-operation with our colleagues in the Garda Siochana that we have identified the vehicle that was used to carry the bomb to position in Market Street in Omagh yesterday. We believe it's a vehicle that was stolen on Thursday the 13th August in Carrickmacross in the Republic of Ireland. we believe it was a red, maroon Vauxhall Cavalier. The registered number we believe to have been 91 DL 2554 and I would appeal to any of your viewers, who saw that vehicle between Thursday and Saturday to get in touch with us or indeed to get in touch with any Garda Station, if there are any viewers in the Republic of Ireland who saw that vehicle between Thursday and Saturday, please get in touch with us. Now we believe when it was placed in Market Street, it was probably bearing Northern plates, I can't publicize the plates that we believe it to be bearing at that time, because there are still ongoing investigations in that regard, but any one who has any information, that can help us bring these people to justice, has an obligation to give us that information, and I call upon them so to do.
Gordon Brewer Both sources in the RUC and most publicly Natacha Bertie Ahern have been pointing the finger today at this organisation that the Real IRA, do you believe that they were behind this, and indeed if you're not sure, just tell us a little bit about what you know about them?
Chief Constable That at this stage is the focus of our investigation, but it's too soon to be absolutely precise in that regard and we're liaising very closely with ur colleagues in the Garda Siochana, I'm meeting he Commissioner tomorrow morning, we're going to review our state of intelligence, we're going to review our state of knowledge in relation to these people, and that together with the painstaking investigation that's underway, the forensic examination of all the exhibits, the interview of all the witnesses, the interview in due course of the more than 200 people who were interviewed, will undoubtedly yield results. But what we need more than anything else is total public co-operation. This was an attack against society in it's entirety. Social in it's entirety has an obligation to give us what information it has so that we can bring these people to justice.
Gordon Brewer What gives you such confidence and it would seem the Irish Authorities also such confidence that the Real IRA was behind this?
Chief Constable I'm not going to discuss the intelligence that we have to hand in detail obviously and these public circumstances, but that's our believe at this point in time, it falls into line with other atrocities that these people have attempted, thankfully through the good work of our colleagues in the Garda Siochana, and through the good work of my officers and our military colleagues we have thwarted their intentions largely down through recent weeks. What we saw yesterday was sheer bloody murder carried out by people who wanted to murder, not carried out by people who are somehow engaged reluctantly in a campaign of violence, but people who want to murder simply because murder is all they know, simply because murder is all they have to offer
Gordon Brewer You said earlier on today that you thought that the misleading warning which had been given was a deliberate attempt to drive people towards the place where the bomb went off, do you still believe that or is there a possibility that this was just some sort of mess up?
Chief Constable I can come to no other conclusion in that this was absolutely deliberate, we've had success in the past either through intercepting these vehicles before they arrive at their intended destination, or reaching them very soon after they have arrived so that we've been able to disrupt them, and I have no doubt that these people decided to give deliberately vague and misleading warnings to prevent us disrupting the explosive devices. I can come to no conclusion other than that these people intended the bloody murder that resulted from their actions.
Gordon Brewer Ronnie Flanagan thank you very much indeed.
Press Release; August 17th, 1998; 12:45pm; Update on Fatalities

We can confirm that 27 of the deceased from the Omagh Explosion have now been positively Identified.Eight are from the Omagh area, with others from Beragh, Carrickmore and Donemana.


  Adults Children
Males 5 4
Females 15 3

We would appreciate patience upon the official release of names due to the enormity of the task in liaising with such a large number of families and relatives and the ongoing difficulties with communications in the Omagh area. Updates on individual cases will be released as soon as we are in a position to do so.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary has issued an emergency telephone service for members of the public concerned for the safety of friends and relatives. It is Belfast +44 (0)1232 673371.

Press Release; 18 August 1998; RUC confirms Omagh deaths

<Editor's note - see fuller list of those killed>

All twenty-eight who died in the Omagh bomb explosion on Saturday have now been identified.

The RUC extends its deepest sympathy to the bereaved and to those who have been injured.

The Press Office at Police Headquarters has witnessed the intense interest that this incident has created in the media across the globe. It is now emerging that some bereaved families are suffering from the excessive intrusion of the Press into their personal grief. We would request that News Editors now treat the families of those listed below with sensitivity.

Whilst it is understood that the Press and media have a duty to inform the public, it may now be time to allow the people of Omagh time and space to grieve in peace.

The collective judgement of the world's Press in the aftermath of Dunblane reduced the intensity of media focus and perhaps a similar situation could be brought about in Omagh.

Everyone in the RUC Press Office will endeavour to supply as much information as is possible to assist with news gathering.

LOGUE, Brenda Mary, 17 yrs
10 Loughmacrory Park,
CONWAY, Gareth 18 yrs
21 Aghoghan Park, Carrickmore
GRIMES, Mary 65 yrs
16 Patrick's Road, Beragh,
MONAGHAN, Avril 30 yrs
Springtown Road, Augher
MONAGHAN, Maria Teresa 18 months
Springtown Road, Augher
RADFORD, Alan 16 yrs
67 Castleview Park, Omagh
WILSON, Lorrayne Ann 15 yrs
21 Camowen Bungalows, Omagh
RUSHE, Elizabeth Ameida 57 yrs
10 Michael Street, Omagh
McCOMBE, Anne 49 yrs
13 Summerhill Park, Omagh
ABAD RAMOS, Rocio 23 yrs
Victor De La Serra, Madrid, SPAIN
BLASCO BASELGA, Fernando 12 yrs
105 Arturo Sorita, 28033 Madrid, SPAIN
SKELTON, Philomena 49 yrs
3 McCrea Park, Dooish, Drumquin
WHITE, Fred 60 yrs
18 Knockgreenan Avenue, Omagh
WHITE, Brian 26 yrs
18 Knockgreenan Avenue, Omagh
GALLAGHER, Adrian 21 yrs
23A Circular Road, Omagh
MARLOW, Jolene Briege 17 yrs
Newtownsaville, Eskra, Omagh
GIBSON, Esther Nora 36 yrs
47 Radergan Road Beragh
CARTWRIGHT, Debra Anne 20 yrs
2 Birchwood, Omagh
HUGHES, Julia Victoria 21 yrs
16A Beltany Road, Omagh
McLOUGHLIN, Sean 12 yrs
14 Knockalla Drive, Buncrana,
County Donegal,
Republic of Ireland
BARKER, James Victor 12 yrs
Ballintrae, Military Road, Port Haw,
Buncrana, County Donegal,
Republic of Ireland
DOHERTY, Oran Michael 8 yrs
18 Knockalla Drive, Buncrana,
County Donegal, Republic of Ireland
McFARLAND, Samantha 17 yrs
7 Clements Villas, Hospital Road, Omagh
DEVINE, Breda Catherine 20 months
144 Dunaroe Road, Donemana
SHORT, Vida Elizabeth 56 yrs
124 Moyla Road, Gortaclare, Omagh
BRESLIN,Geraldine Agnes 43 yrs
24 Drumanon Close, Omagh
HAWKES, Olive 60 years
3 Fecarry Road, Omagh
McCRORY, Brian 54 years
57 Ballinamullan Road, Omagh
Press Release; 18 August 1998; New Incident Room Numbers

Detectives at the RUC's incident room in Omagh are keen to hear from anyone who may have vital information about the car used in the bombing.

It was a maroon Vauxhall Cavalier which was stolen in Carrickmacross, in the Republic of Ireland, on Thursday, 13 August. Then it bore the registration number 91 DL 2554.

They believe that when it was left in Market Street, Omagh, on Saturday afternoon it bore the number MDZ 5211. Incident room telephone numbers are:

01662 244159

01662 256675

01662 256676

01662 246979 (Answerphone)

Callers from the Republic of Ireland should prefix these numbers with 08

Press Release; 19 August 1998; Extra Help for Omagh Task Force

The Chief Constable of the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan, has called on additional Specialist resources from the London Metropolitan Police to assist the Task Force investigating the Omagh bombing.

The decision follows direct contact between Mr Flanagan and Assistant Commissioner Special Operations, David Veness, and is a direct consequence of the immensity of the task facing detectives.

Anti-terrorist officers from the Metropolitan Police flew to Northern Ireland today.

The London officers' experience in dealing with similar attacks in England will help identify possible evidence from the tons of rubble.

Mr Flanagan said he was delighted with the co-operation which has been extended. "Our London colleagues will be working with our own experienced officers, and directly to Mr Anderson who is heading the Task Force. All material identified will be forwarded to the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Agency who will supervise the expert examination".

Deputy Assistant Chief Constable for Crime, Chief Superintendent Eric Anderson said: "We are facing an enormous task requiring meticulous examination of literally tons of rubble. This additional help represents a very significant increase in our ability to extract as quickly as humanly possible every last piece of evidence in what is a very complex jigsaw".

The investigation into the Omagh bombing is one of the largest of its type ever mounted in Northern Ireland.

Press Release; 19 August 1998, Public Information Enquiry Line Closed

The public information enquiry line, 01232 673371, established in response to the Omagh bomb explosion, has now closed.

During the first twenty-four hours, 15,686 calls, most from concerned relatives and friends were made to the emergency telephone service.

The RUC consider the assistance of the media in promoting the telephone number on Saturday evening as being invaluable.

Press Release; 24 August 1998; Omagh Bomb - Latest RUC Appeal

This [photograph] is the car containing the bomb which devastated Omagh, killing 28 people and injuring more than 200 people.

The print comes from a roll of film police found in the rubble.

They believe the photograph of the car was taken shortly before its lethal cargo exploded.

The images of an adult and child in the foreground and of shoppers and visitors in the background have been bleached out to preserve anonymity and out of respect to the dead and injured.

The car, a maroon Vauxhall Cavalier was parked outside Kells' shops.

It had been stolen two days earlier from outside a house in St McCartan's Villas, in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland. At the time it was taken it bore the registration number 91 DL 2554. It had a tow bar and an Aer Lingus sticker in the lower right hand side of the windscreen.

As can be seen from the photograph, when it was driven into Omagh with the bomb it bore the Northern Ireland registration MDZ 5211.

The RUC's most senior detective, Chief Superintendent Eric Anderson, who is heading up the special task force investigating the murders, says : "We now believe that the car was driven along the Campsie Road into Market Street. It was parked outside Kells' two shops. Two men got out of it and walked back towards Campsie Road."

Chief Supt Anderson stresses the importance of tracing the subsequent movements of the men.

Detectives need to know if they went onto Drumragh Avenue towards the Ulsterbus depot; if they went back along Campsie Road or into Dublin Road. They also need to know if anyone saw them getting into another vehicle.

He added that the response from the public so far has been marvellous, but more information is needed.

The RUC's Incident Room can be contacted at:

01662 256676
01662 246979
01662 246177

Callers from the Republic of Ireland should prefix these numbers with 08.

Press Release; 23 November 1998; Omagh Bomb Inquiry

The senior detective in charge of the RUC investigation into the Omagh bomb said police were determined to bring those responsible for the atrocity before the courts.

At a news conference in Belfast, Detective Chief Superintendent Eric Anderson gave details of the progress of the inquiry into the bomb attack on Saturday 15 August which left 29 people dead and 250 injured.

Detective Chief Superintendent Anderson said inquiries were still being actively pursued but that police needed more help from the public. He said: "The explosion happened over three months ago but its repercussions for the people of Omagh, the Republic of Ireland and Spain will last for many years. Individuals, families and entire communities have been devastated.

"As the run-up to the festive season gathers pace, those affected by the tragedy will be facing a very difficult time. Our thoughts and sympathies are with them. I am asking everyone in the community to help us catch the bombers.

"We are convinced that somebody out there knows something which will assist us in our investigations. If you know anything, anything at all, no matter how small or unimportant you think it is, we want to hear from you".

"People can phone the special incident room at Omagh on 01662 246979 or use the freephone and confidential Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111 . The smallest piece of information could help us to make a major advance in our inquiries".

Detective Chief Superintendent Anderson highlighted key aspects of the investigation. These include:

The red Vauxhall Cavalier car used by the bombers was stolen in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, sometime between 11pm on Wednesday 12 August and 3.30am on Thursday 13 August. It was seen in Crossmaglen and Cullaville before being parked in Market Street in Omagh.

Three bomb warnings were  made about the bomb, each of them inadequate and incorrect. Two were from a BT phone kiosk at McGeough's crossroads, Forkhill, to UTV in Belfast and the Samaritans in Omagh. The third, which was also to UTV, was from another callbox at Loyes crossroads, Newtownhamilton. The two kiosks were cut out of the ground by police and removed to forensic laboratories from detailed examination. The only time this has been done before was in the Garda investigation into the bomb at Canary Wharf in London.

The bomb was made up of 300 lbs of home-made explosives and detonated by a booster charge of commercial explosive. The timer power unit was packed into an Addis lunch box and a Coupatan mechanical timer was used to detonate the bomb.

Eleven people have been arrested and questioned about the attack in Northern Ireland. A total of 31 people have been quizzed by Gardai in the Republic.

A team from the Metropolitan Police bomb squad has brought specialised equipment and knowledge to assist in the investigation which involved sifting through 30 tons of debris and rubble.

Police in Omagh have dozens of items which they want to return to their owners or next of kin. These include jewellery, clothing and personal effects. One example is a Ben Sherman fleece jacket which was used by a rescuer to wrap round an injured girl. The girl's father would like to thank the owner of the jacket.  The items will be returned after 27 November.

Detective Chief Superintendent Anderson concluded: "We have a full team continually working on this investigation. We have been working in close co-operation with a number of other police forces. We are pursuing a number of inquiries and it is likely that more arrests will follow but we still need help from the public."

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