The top RUC officer who led the probe into the Omagh massacre has spoken out in the wake of the inaccurate warning given over Friday night’s Cathedral Quarter bomb.
Norman Baxter, a retired RUC and PSNI detective chief superintendent, headed the probe into the 1998 attack which killed 29 after misleading information about the bomb was given to the authorities.
Although Friday’s small device resulted in no casualties and minimal damage, police said the warning received placed the bomb over 490ft (150 metres) from the place where it was actually found.
“The issue of warnings,” he said. “It’s always the one that causes the highest potential for death. Purely reckless.”
He added: “I suppose in all these incidents you always have a degree of disconnection between the people who plant the device and the people who make the bomb calls...
“In that when they come to plant the device if anything disrupts them or spooks them they tend to just drop it in a different place to get away. And then unless they make contact with the people who are making the bomb warning, the two don’t often match up. So there always is that danger.”
He added that the method of attack would seem to indicate current police tactics are paying off. “The fact that they are putting a small bomb in a holdall would indicate they don’t have confidence to bring a large bomb in,” he said.
“I can’t see why they’d want to give a wrong warning. Of course, you’re not dealing with rational people. They are of course mad. Bad, and mad.”