Whatever happened to the concepts of ‘equality’ and ‘parity of esteem’, of equal treatment before the law and consistency when making follow-up enquiries into terrorist atrocities?
In the recent Tunisian outrage, among the 38 persons murdered were 30 British victims. This dreadful statistic is almost comparable to the number of fatalities in the Omagh bombing in which 31 individuals, including the unborn twins, were massacred and more than 200 injured, many seriously.
Only a year after the Omagh bombing, the then Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Nuala O’Loan, stated in Section 15 of her report about the lack of follow-up investigations into Omagh, “On 20 August 1999, only one year after the bombing, the Senior Investigating Officer of the Omagh Bomb Investigation Team was contemplating closing the enquiry.”
Tony Blair was the prime minister in 1998, and he insisted that no stone would be left unturned in the hunt for the bombers, which undertaking would doubtless need to employ a dedicated team of detectives. But there does not seem to have been any such dedicated team, until perhaps two or three detectives in recent times leading to the arrest of a suspect.
A couple of years ago, the prime minister, David Cameron, was prepared to put the resources of Scotland Yard into the search for Madeline McCann, the girl who went missing in Portugal in 2007 when her parents left her alone in the evening whilst they went out to dine.
In contrast to the lack-lustre follow-up investigations into the Omagh bombing, the British government has pulled out all the stops in respect of the Tunisian tragedy. More than 600 police officers from Scotland Yard’s National Counter Terrorism Headquarters are involved, including more than 380 tasked with meeting tourists at airports as they returned from Tunisia for the purpose of identifying potential witnesses. In addition, a team of 18 officers were flown to Tunisia. There was no such intense follow-up after the Omagh bombing.
Neil C. Oliver, Newtownards