The families of the victims of the worst single terrorist attack in Northern Ireland attended a memorial service to mark the 25th anniversary of the terrorist attack in Northern Ireland.
A car bomb attack by dissident Republicans in the city of Omagh on August 15, 1998 killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, her 18-month-old daughter and her mother – several generations of a family.
Three hundred others were injured.
During the service, the names of all victims and their ages were read out.
Sixteen of those who died were under the age of 25.
No one has been criminally convicted of the attack by the breakaway Irish republican group known as the Real IRA. But there will be an independent legal inquiry into the atrocity.
In 2009, following a landmark civil case brought by relatives of some of the victims, a judge ruled that five people were liable for the £500 bomb and ordered them to pay damages.
The deadly blast occurred just four months after the historic blast Good Friday Peace Agreement which was based on the idea of cooperation between communities.
The deal, brokered by the UK, Republic of Ireland and the US, resulted in the formation of a new government for Northern Ireland, representing nationalists and trade unionists.
The memorial service, attended by, among others, Minister for the Northern Ireland Office Lord Caine and Irish Minister of State for European Affairs and Defense Peter Burke, took place on the Sunday closest to the anniversary.
One of the speakers at the memorial garden gathering was Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was one of the Omagh victims.
He thanked everyone involved in organizing the service and those who have supported families in the years since the attack, including Father Kevin Mullan.
A terrorist threat still looms over Northern Ireland
Mr Gallagher said: “I cannot close without thinking of those we have lost along the way and who have been instrumental in rebuilding the hearts and minds of those affected by this atrocity.”
“Earlier this year we sadly said goodbye to Father Kevin Mullan. Father Kevin was present on August 15, 25 years ago. He attended to the victims on the spot, anointed them at the last rites and comforted the injured and the dying.” .”
He added, “We will always be indebted to him for the strength, compassion and courage he showed that day and in the months, years and decades that followed.”
“It didn't matter to him whether you were celebrating a service in a church or a chapel. His wisdom and influence seeped into the community as he worked tirelessly and selflessly to create unity and togetherness.”
“We will remember him as a decent and honorable person who will impact generations to come.”
25 years since the attack, The specter of terrorism still looms over Northern Ireland – The threat from dissident groups like the New IRA is considered serious.
The self-proclaimed New IRA is a conglomerate of breakaway factions that are still actively involved in what is known as the “armed struggle”.
Security services estimate there are fewer than 100 members, but they have proven their deadly ability through bombings and shootings.
Earlier this year they made headlines with another attack in Omagh – the attempted murder of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell.
In 2019, during a riot at Derry's Creggan estate, one of their gunmen opened fire on police, fatally injuring the journalist Lyra McKee29