|Coming to terms with what happened on that sunny August day has been a long struggle
for the victims. With the cameras gone now, dozens of people have quietly started new
lives with missing limbs. The Omagh fund was set up to raise money, and has so far raised
well over a million pounds. The Omagh Fund declaration says "The fund will be
used for the benefit of those who died or were injured as a result of the Omagh bomb,
their relatives and dependants and those persons who have been adversely affected by the
Many of the victims of the bomb have found themselves unable to come into the town centre since the event took place. Many of those who do, only stay as long as they need to and leave again. For this reason, trade in the town has suffered since the bomb. A scheme was introduced in the Autumn following the bomb to encourage people from elsewhere in the province to come and spend time in the province. Badge, such as the one on the left, were given out. This scheme was successful and went in some way to rejuvinate the town centre.
Unbelievably, the people of Omagh have been tortured for the past two years by hoax bomb alerts, phoned anonymously. There has been an average of one per week since the bomb. Each one causes the town centre to be evacuated and acts as a stab in the heart of those victims who are brave enough to return to the town. Local people say that the hoaxes are "killing the town more effectively than the bomb did". So far, only a few of these cruel people have been successfully traced and arrested. In a policy designed to starve the hoaxers of the publicity they probably seek, the media have decided not to report the bomb scares.
In an attempt to get rid of the memory of the bomb, Omagh council demolished all the buildings near to the bomb scene and have embarked on an ambitious plan of development, to include several new commercial complexes. A memorial garden has also been built, although it is not clear whether this is to be permanent. A plaque to the victims was unveiled by President Clinton and books of condolence were signed by thousands of people across Ireland.
Thousands of bouquets of flowers were left at the scene of the bomb in the days following the massacre. The petals from these bouquests were gathered together afterwards and pressed to form different coloured sheets of paper. Local artists then used the paper to make beautiful pieces of art. One of these was donated to the family of each victim, while the remainder went on display in Omagh, Buncrana and Madrid.
On a more positive note, development and investment in Omagh is continuing and the population continues to rise. The town has a web site at omagh.co.uk.
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