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'Those scars will never go away': Special ceremony to mark 20th anniversary of Omagh bombing

The 1998 bombing was the single worst atrocity of the Troubles.

Memorial can be seen on Market Street, where the bomb exploded 20 years ago.
Memorial can be seen on Market Street, where the bomb exploded 20 years ago.
Image: Liam McBurney/PA Images

A SPECIAL CEREMONY will take place today in Omagh to mark the 20th anniversary of the Real IRA bombing that killed 29 people and injured hundreds more in the Tyrone town.

The event will take place in Market Street, where the bomb exploded, in what was the worst single atrocity of the troubles.

The car bomb caused the deaths of, among others, a pregnant woman with twins and an 18-month-old child.

The event today will see bells tolling at the same time the bomb struck, just after 3pm on 15 August 1998.

In a service last night delivered at the Sacred Heart Church in Omagh, Bishop Donal McKeown said that the “bomb that killed young and old also scarred so many others in body and in mind”.

“Those scars, those memories, those losses will never go away,” he said. “For this town, something changed forever that day. And this community has found ways of remembering their loved ones in a quiet and dignified way.”

He added that the memorial to the victims is a “monument to all the innocent who were torn from us by violence in our community”.

In a statement, President Michael D Higgins expressed his solidarity to the people of Omagh and praised the work of first responders on this day 20 years ago.

“As we recall with deep sadness the deaths and the injuries at Omagh, we should use this moment to recognise the many ways in which we are all connected and the many ways in which we have sought to make peaceful progress over the last two decades,” he said.

Higgins said that the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement remained the best hopes for the future of our shared island.

Also commenting on the anniversary, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that the pain of Omagh families and victims “should serve us with an important reminder that the road to peace is worth protecting at all costs”.

He added that the current obstacles faced in the impasse between Sinn Féin and the DUP on power-sharing “fly in the face of insignificance when it comes to the pain and hurt felt by all those affected by this brutal atrocity”.

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Sean Murray

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