Arlene Foster: Omagh bomb families deserve apology over delay to inquiry ruling

In 2013, campaigners took legal action in an attempt to force an inquiry into the 1998 atrocity which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins
Arlene Foster: Omagh bomb families deserve apology over delay to inquiry ruling

The Omagh bombing in 1998 killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins (PA)

Relatives of those killed in the Omagh bomb deserve an apology over a delay to a court ruling on a bid for a public inquiry, Arlene Foster has said.

In 2013, campaigners took legal action in an attempt to force an inquiry into the 1998 atrocity which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.

It was the worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict.

That case concluded almost two years ago, however no ruling has yet been issued.

The lord chief justice’s office said the delay is due to the “sensitive nature of the material involved in the case”.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister said the families deserve an apology.

She tweeted: “No one should be expected to wait eight years for a court judgement.”

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was killed in the blast, launched the legal action after former Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers decided in 2013 not to order a public inquiry.

Michael Gallagher said the process has been ‘a very long road’ (Liam McBurney/PA)

He thanked Mrs Foster for “putting a spotlight” on the matter.

“It’s been a very long road and very difficult,” he told the BBC.

The lord chief justice’s office said the judgment is “taking longer than initially anticipated”.

It added: “Due to the sensitive nature of the material involved in this case, the court is required to produce both an ‘open judgment’, which has been prepared in draft, and a ‘closed judgment’, which has to be completed before the open judgment can be published.

“The documents which the judge has to consider in respect of the closed judgment are stored in a secured area which can only be accessed during restricted hours and not at weekends.

“The judge’s access to this material has to be scheduled around his workload in the High Court.

“He would like to reassure Mr Gallagher that he is reviewing this material thoroughly to ensure that he is taking into account all relevant evidence, however, this is a detailed process which is taking longer than initially anticipated.

“Mr Justice Horner will deliver his open judgment when he has concluded the work on his closed judgment.”

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