Both peace and justice are possible, says dad of Omagh bomb victim

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was killed in the Omagh bombing.
Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was killed in the Omagh bombing.

A victim of a republican bombing which killed 29 people in Northern Ireland has insisted that it is possible to have peace with justice.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan died in the 1998 Real IRA bombing of Omagh, said that every sane person in Ireland and Britain wanted an end to violence but not at any price.

Mr Gallagher said that he favoured a mixture of prosecutions and some form of truth recovery in cases where trials are unrealistic.

He said: “Peace is getting stronger and I am very happy about that.

“Every sane person in Ireland and Britain wants peace but that has to be built upon a firm foundation and we cannot forget the people who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, the victims.

“The police have to investigate and any possibility to prosecute should be taken, but in some cases we have to recognise that prosecutions will not be a reality.”

The arrest of Gerry Adams showed how the justice system can be used to deal with Troubles crimes.

But senior Sinn Fein figures indicated that their support for the police – a critical plank in the peace process – would be “reviewed” if Mr Adams was charged, something the DUP denounced as “bullyboy tactics”.

To some, including Sinn Fein, the toxic influence of history needs to be dealt with through a South African-style truth-telling and reconciliation commission where those who took part, in their view war combatants, can speak free from fear of prosecution.

But there has been widespread opposition to any suggestion of a de facto amnesty for killers. Victims’ campaigner Kenny Donaldson of the group Innocent Victims United said: “Northern Ireland has no future if terrorism continues to be placated, the moral compass of this place must be re-set.”