We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

A wreath at the memorial garden for those killed in the Omagh bombings Alamy Stock Photo
Northern Ireland

Omagh marks 25th anniversary of the deadliest bombing of the Troubles

29 people were killed in the attack, four months after the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

LAST UPDATE | 13 Aug 2023

VICTIMS’ FAMILIES, SURVIVORS and dignitaries gathered today to mark the 25th anniversary of the Omagh bombing, the deadliest attack of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

On 15 August, 1998, a massive car bomb planted by dissident republicans tore through Omagh’s busy town centre, killing 29 people and injuring 220.

The memorial service, organised by victims’ groups and the town’s churches forum, will be held in Omagh Memorial Garden today. A separate, private service will be held for families on 15 August.

A prayer will be read in English, Irish and Spanish during the service in respect of the victims of the bomb, which include a child from Spain and children from Co Donegal.

Northern Ireland Office minister Jonathan Caine and Irish Minister of State for European Affairs and Defence Peter Burke will be among those at the event at the memorial garden in Omagh later.

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

Perpetrated by the Real IRA, a dissident republican group opposed to the peace deal, the attack rallied the public around the agreement.

Earlier this year, the UK government announced an independent inquiry into the Omagh bomb to probe whether the attack could have been prevented.

The inquiry follows a 2021 recommendation for the British government to investigate alleged security failures in the lead-up to the attack.

Victims’ families and survivors of the blast have faced years of legal wrangling over the bombing through a series of inquests, criminal and civil cases and appeals, but nobody has ever been convicted for the atrocity.

In February, senior PSNI officer John Caldwell was shot in an assassination attempt by dissident republicans on the outskirts of Omagh.

The attack, which was later claimed by the New IRA, recalled the routine targeting of police officers during the Troubles.

The last police officer murdered by dissident republicans, Ronan Kerr, was killed in Omagh in 2011 when a car bomb exploded outside his home.

The UK government in March raised the Northern Ireland terror threat level in response to Caldwell’s shooting, citing a continuing threat of political violence.

Tensions have run high in Northern Ireland since the UK’s departure from the European Union, with the DUP boycotting Stormont’s power-sharing arrangement over post-Brexit trading rules.

Additional reporting by PA
© AFP 2023