Court reserves judgement in Omagh relatives' application

The Special Criminal Court has reserved judgement in an application by relatives of the Omagh bomb victims for documentation to help their civil compensation case against those suspected of carrying out the 1998 atrocity.

The Special Criminal Court has reserved judgement in an application by relatives of the Omagh bomb victims for documentation to help their civil compensation case against those suspected of carrying out the 1998 atrocity.

Lawyers for the relatives applied to the court for transcripts and books of evidence relating to a number of recent trials at the court involving men who are named in the Belfast High Court action.

The relatives are suing Michael Mc Kevitt, Liam Campbell, Colm Murphy, Seamus Daly, Seamus McKenna and the Real IRA for €20m.

Former FBI agent David Rupert who gave evidence in the trial of Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt in Dublin will be one of the witnesses called by the relatives legal team and is expected to give evidence by video link.

The Omagh bombing killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, and injured more than 300 in August, 1998. It was the worst single terrorist atrocity in the 30 years of the Troubles.

Michael Mc Kevitt (aged 54), of Beech Park, Blackrock, Co Louth was jailed for 20 years in August 2003 for directing the activities of a terrorist organisation and for membership of an illegal organisation.

Colm Murphy (aged 51), of Jordan's Corner, Ravensdale, Co Louth was jailed for 14 years in January 2002 after he was convicted of conspiracy to cause an explosion between August 13 and 16, 1998.

Liam Campbell (aged 41), of Upper Faughart, Dundalk, Co Louth was sentenced to eight years imprisonment in May 2004 for membership of the Real IRA on separate dates in 2000 and 2001.

Seamus Daly (aged 33), of Culloville, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan was jailed for three and half years in May 2004 after he pleaded guilty to membership of the Real IRA on November 20, 2000.

Seamus Mc Kenna (aged 49), of Marian Park, Dundalk, Co Louth was jailed for six years last month for the possession of an explosive substance in Co Louth in June, 2003.

Today Lord Brennan QC, for the Omagh relatives, told the court that Mr Justice Morgan had heard an application in Belfast last week relating to the claim. He said that the judge had indicated that he was willing to make an order for discovery against the five defendants but did not want to offend the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court or compromise the position of the defendants.

Lord Brennan submitted that the decision to disclose the transcripts was an administrative decision and within the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court.

Mr Patrick Mc Carthy SC, who appeared for Mc Kevitt, Daly, Campbell and Mc Kenna, submitted that the court had no jurisdiction to order the disclosure of the transcripts.

"This is a civil matter. You have no power to entertain the application under the statute," he said.

Mr George Birmingham SC for the DPP, said that his instructions were that there was no question of there being a contempt of court if the transcripts or books of evidence were released.

Mr Paul O’Higgins SC, for the Attorney General, said that it was impossible to see any prejudice arising from releasing the transcripts which were accurate representations of the proceedings of the court.

Mr Justice Richard Johnson, presiding, said the court would be in a position to say at the end of the month when it will deliver judgement in the application.

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