A detective said the decision to charge Seamus Daly, aged 43, who has previously been successfully sued over the Real IRA outrage, had been taken in consultation with the “highest level” of the North’s Public Prosecution Service after reviewing a range of evidence allegedly linking the Co Monaghan bricklayer and publican with the August 1998 attack.
Appearing at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court, Daly, originally from Cullaville, Co Monaghan, but now residing in Jonesborough, Co Armagh, was remanded in custody after deputy district judge Paul Conway refused a bail application.
Daly, who has a previous conviction in the Republic for IRA membership, has already been found liable for the Omagh bomb in a landmark civil case heard at Belfast High Court.
On Wednesday night, detectives charged him with 29 counts of murder and a number of other charges.
He also faces counts of causing the explosion in Omagh; possession of a bomb in the Co Tyrone market town with intent to endanger life or property; conspiring to cause an explosion in Lisburn, Co Down in April 1998; and possession of the Lisburn bomb with intent. He was arrested by officers from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch in Newry on Monday as he accompanied his wife to the town hospital’s maternity unit.
Arguing for bail, his lawyer Dermot Fee told the court that the due date for the birth of the couple’s second child was yesterday.
Opposing bail, the PSNI detective said Daly claimed to be his brother when he was stopped by police and was only formally identified through fingerprint analysis.
Daly did not speak during the half-hour hearing. He sat in the dock only yards in front of the public gallery where Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan, 21, died in the blast, looked on.
After outlining broad details of the case against Daly, the PSNI detective said the accused responded “no comment” to every question asked during interviews but had given a prepared statement to police denying all the counts.
Mr Fee claimed there were “significant weaknesses” in the prosecution case.
“There is nothing new and nothing fresh that hasn’t been available for a long number of years,” he said.
Daly was remanded in custody to appear in court again via video link in the summer.
The bombing’s 29 victims, who included a woman pregnant with twins, died after the dissident republican car bomb detonated in Omagh town centre on a busy Saturday afternoon.