UK government announces independent statutory inquiry
There will be an independent statutory inquiry into the Omagh bombing, the UK government has confirmed. It was the biggest single atrocity in Northern Ireland’s Troubles. NI Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris made a statement in the House of Commons on Thursday afternoon.
The announcement follows long-running legal action brought by a relative of one of the 29 people who died after the bomb exploded in the County Tyrone town on 15 August 1998. Bereaved families have been campaigning for an inquiry for more than a decade.
It is understood that an independent statutory inquiry is not the same as a public inquiry: An appointed chairperson will decide how public the inquiry is.
Mr Heaton-Harris said the inquiry would examine four issues identified by a 2021 High Court ruling.
Whether there was advance knowledge or reasonable means of knowledge of the bomb
Whether disruption operations could or should have been mounted, which may have helped prevent the Real IRA’s attack
The inquiry would be established “as promptly as possible”, he told the House.
An independent statutory inquiry is the most appropriate form of further investigation to address the grounds identified by the Court,” Mr Heaton-Harris said.
It will have the full powers provided by the Inquiries Act 2005, including the ability to compel the production of all relevant materials and witnesses and take evidence under oath, he added.
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