The sister of a teenage boy killed in the Omagh bombing has condemned as “sickening” Sinn Fein’s intervention in support of a man found liable for the 1998 blast.
Claire Monteith, who was 15 when her brother Alan Radford was killed, said the intervention is “completely wrong”.
Dundalk farmer Liam Campbell was found liable in a landmark civil action for the Real IRA bomb which claimed 29 lives, plus two unborn children.
In 2001 he was jailed in the Republic for RIRA membership. He has been facing extradition by Irish courts to Lithuania where he is wanted on suspicion of being involved in an alleged gunrunning plot.
This week it was revealed that Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson has written to the Irish premier Leo Varadkar calling on him “to protect the human rights” of Mr Campbell in relation to prison conditions he could potentially face in the eastern European country.
When it comes to the intervention of Ms Anderson, Mrs Monteith said: “It’s sickening but at the same time it doesn’t surprise me from Sinn Fein at all.”
She recalled journeying into Omagh on the day of the bomb, encountering the smell of burning people.
She said her brother had died “face down in water and in his own blood”.
“For them to talk about this man’s human rights... My brother’s human rights weren’t taken into consideration,” she told the News Letter.
Ms Anderson said: “I met with the family of Liam Campbell who is currently facing extradition to Lithuania about their concerns over the implications for his human rights.
“The Supreme Court already ruled against the extradition of Liam Campbell to Lithuania as it found that prison conditions there could breach his right to freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The Sinn Fein MEP continued: “There is a concern that, if extradited, he could face a lengthy period in detention before his case comes to trial in conditions that have been criticised by the UN’s Committee on Torture.”
In 2009, top Sinn Fein figure Martin McGuinness had condemned violent dissident republicans as “traitors to the island of Ireland”.
Mother-of-three Claire Monteith said she is not surprised by Ms Anderson’s intervention on behalf of Mr Campbell due to the party’s defence of the actions of the Provisional IRA over the years.
“To me, a terrorist is a terrorist,” she said. “You can give it all the prefixes in the world that you want. The bottom line is that’s what they are.
“And Sinn Fein are the mouthpieces of the IRA. So that’s why it doesn’t surprise me, not at all.
“What’s the difference between defending the Provisional IRA and this?
“They keep going on about this ‘breakaway group’, that ‘that wasn’t the IRA that done that’, but they (both the Provisional IRA and the Real IRA) are all terrorists.”
Mrs Monteith said she had a special bond with her brother that was “ripped apart” by the Omagh bombing.
“Alan was a beautiful, 16-year-old boy on a lovely Saturday afternoon doing what he always done, helping his mother,” she recalled.
“They were in the town shopping. On that Saturday afternoon he was there, unfortunately, and he was blown into shreds.
“He was my older brother, by just over a year, and the two of us were very close. He was 16 and I was 15 at the time. He was due to get his GCSE results the week after.
“Alan died quite quickly on the streets of Omagh that day, face down in water and in his own blood.”
The now 35-year-old Mrs Monteith recalled being at home when first felt the tremors from the explosion. When she found out her mother was injured and her brother Alan was missing, she travelled into town to try and find her sibling.
“I seen some horrendous sights — people holding their limbs on, blood on the floor,” she said. “Burning – the smell of burning flesh, I’ll never forget that smell.”
She added: “They’re worried the prison isn’t humane. But how humane was it when my brother was blown up in the street?”
Sinn Fein were invited by the News Letter to reply to Mrs Monteith’s criticism but declined, referring instead to Ms Anderson’s statement.