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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Alamy Stock Photo Police officers and firefighters inspect the damage caused by the 1998 bomb in Market Street, Omagh, Co Tyrone.

Former senior judge appointed as chair of Omagh Bombing Inquiry

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris today announced the appointment of Alan Turnbull.

A SENIOR JUDGE has been appointed as the chair of the Omagh Bombing Inquiry.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris announced the appointment of Alan Turnbull today.

Heaton-Harris announced that an independent statutory inquiry would be launched to look at the preventability of the blast that devastated the Co Tyrone town.

It came after a High Court judge in Belfast in 2021 recommended that the UK Government should carry out a human rights-compliant investigation into alleged security failures in the lead-up to the attack.

Mr Justice Horner found it was potentially plausible that the bombing could have been prevented.

The inquiry will be established under the Inquiries Act 2005, with full powers, including the power to compel the production of documents and to summon witnesses to give evidence under oath.

Twenty-nine people, including a woman pregnant with twins, were killed when a dissident republican car bomb ripped through Omagh town centre on 15 August, 1998.

Alan Turnbull formerly served in the Scottish High Court and Court of Appeal, and during his career as a barrister he was instructed for the Crown for the Lockerbie Bombing case.

turnball NIO / PA Alan Turnbull has served in the Scottish High Court and Court of Appeal. NIO / PA / PA

His appointment as chair of the Omagh Inquiry follows a recommendation made by the Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales, in conjunction with his counterparts across the rest of the UK.

Heaton-Harris and Turnbull will take part in a consultation exercise on the proposed Terms of Reference for the inquiry, which the UK government said will be agreed and published in due course.

Heaton-Harris said the inquiry will be “independent and robust in order to establish the truth”.

“Lord Turnbull’s long-standing judicial career and his previous experience of working on terrorism cases will provide the highest levels of knowledge and professionalism,” he said.

“I have no doubt that Lord Turnbull will bring to the Inquiry the required rigour, independence, and impartiality, and I am grateful to him for accepting this important job.”

Turnbull said: “I am honoured to be appointed to chair this important Inquiry. I am very conscious of the devastation brought to the lives of so many by the atrocity which took place in Omagh in August 1998.

“I understand the determination of those who lost family and loved ones, and of those who were themselves injured, or whose family members were injured, to learn whether the attack could have been prevented.

“As soon as is practicable I shall be seeking views from those affected about the Inquiry. Once the Inquiry’s terms of reference are finalised, I shall conduct an independent and robust Inquiry in order to establish the truth.”

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