New book on Omagh bomb studies intelligence picture

A new book charting the actions of police and oversight bodies around the Omagh bomb investigation was launched in Belfast on Tuesday night.

The Omagh bomb claimed the lives of 29 people and two unborn babies
The Omagh bomb claimed the lives of 29 people and two unborn babies

Former PSNI chief constable Sir Hugh Orde co-authored the book along with Sir Desmond Rea.

Both men had significant roles in the aftermath of the 1998 ‘Real IRA’ atrocity which claimed the lives of 29 people and two unborn babies.

In one of his last acts as PSNI chief constable in 2009 Sir Hugh told a Commons committee, investigating intelligence surrounding the bombing, he had seen nothing to make him believe the atrocity could have been prevented.

Sir Desmond was chair of the Policing Board from its establishment in autumn 2001 until May 2009.

Speaking to the News Letter ahead of the launch, he said the book was, above all, “about listening to the victims in their pain”.

He said: “We listened and we delivered on our obligation as is demonstrated in the book.

“And it’s not just the direct victims, it’s their families, their friends and the people who went to help them on the day and have helped them since. Also, we hope that we have been true to theat obligation and that it has been accurately reflected in the book.”

In the book’s foreword, the authors state: “Two searing questions have bedevilled all discussion on the Omagh Bombing; a bombing which was intended not only to kill innocent victims out and about on 15th August 1998 but also to derail the peace process. The first is whether any information or intelligence was available to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), which, if acted upon, could have prevented the bombing. The second is whether the investigation into the Omagh Bombing was as robust as it should have been.”