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The scene of the bombing in Omagh on 15 August 1998 Alamy Stock Photo

President Higgins offers sympathies to loved ones of 1998 Omagh bombing victims

Today marks 25 years since a dissident republican bomb exploded in the Co Tyrone town on 15 August 1998, killing 29 people.

LAST UPDATE | 15 Aug 2023

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has offered his sympathies to those who lost loved ones in the 1998 Omagh bombing that occurred 25 years ago.

Today marks the 25th anniversary since a dissident republican bomb exploded in the Co Tyrone town on 15 August 1998, killing 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. Hundreds more were injured.

The blast took place four months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

Victims’ families, survivors and and dignitaries gathered on Sunday to mark the 25th anniversary. 

President Michael D Higgins offered his “profound sympathy and support to all those who lost loved ones in the devastation that was the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998″.

“In remembering the 31 victims, including children, on that tragic day, along with those who suffered injuries, we realise how important the quest for the truth as to what happened is to all those relatives who were affected,” he said.

The government has received draft terms of reference for the UK’s independent statuatory inquiry into the 1998 Omagh bombing.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said that once there is “further clarity on the nature of the UK inquiry”, Cabinet will consider the next steps in this jurisdiction.

President Higgins said in his statement that “in offering our support for the relatives’ quest for the truth as to what happened on that day, I am acutely aware of how long they have waited”.

“It is so important for all involved that these truths be established fully and fairly, if we are to enable truly ethical remembrance as might assist reconciliation.

“May I pay special tribute to all those who, despite the pain of those losses and injuries, by their extraordinary patience, courage and coming together have shaped a path towards peace and reconciliation. They have shown such courage and fortitude over the past 25 years.” 

Micheál Martin said that “while there has been much said” about the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, he is “deeply conscious that for those affected by the Omagh bombings, this year also marks a terrible anniversary”. 

“We will never forget the 29 people who lost their lives, those who were injured, and the families whose suffering continues today. My thoughts are first and foremost with all those impacted by this attack, carried out with disregard for democracy and for people,” the Tánaiste said. 

“The Omagh bomb atrocity showed the appalling impact of violence on communities. The campaign of violence in Northern Ireland was never justified. We must keep working relentlessly on peace, dialogue and rebuilding trust.” 


In 2021, a High Court judge recommended that the UK Government should carry out a human rights-compliant investigation into alleged security failings in the lead-up to the attack.

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

His ruling came after a legal challenge by a bereaved family member against the Government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry.

The judge also recommended that the Irish Government establish its own investigation.

Northern Ireland Seceretary Chris Heaton-Harris announced on 2 February this year that he intends to establish an independent statutory inquiry into the bombing.

Speaking at the time, he said the inquiry “will focus on the four grounds, which the court held, as giving rise to plausible arguments that the bombing could have been prevented”.

The Tánaiste welcomed the announcement of the inquiry in February. 

He has confirmed that draft terms of reference for the inquiry have now been shared with the Government. 

However, he said it is understood that the chair of the inquiry “intends to seek the views of those most affected by the bombing before the final version is published”. 

“Officials stand ready to engage with members of the UK’s inquiry team as soon as they are appointed,” Martin said. 

The Tánaiste said that when there is “further clarity on the nature of the UK inquiry”, Cabinet will consider the next steps in this jurisdiction.

“As has been done in relation to a number of historical inquiries, this State will cooperate fully,” he said.

“Justice for the victims and the families impacted by this atrocity will be at the heart of any action that the Government takes.”

With reporting by Press Association

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