THE British government is to seek to have some intelligence gathered on the Omagh bombing assessed in privite.
Secretary of State for the North of Ireland Theresa Villigers (pictured below) plans to have a ‘closed material procedure’ form part of a challenge to her refusal to hold a public inquiry into the atrocity, a judge was told. Confirmation of the move came as lawyers for the the father of a young man killed in the Real IRA attack accused authorities of “massively dragging their heels”. Michael Gallagher has mounted a legal action in a bid to force the government to order a full inquiry. His son Aiden was among 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, killed on August 15th 1998. In September 2013 Ms Villiers rejected calls for a public investigation, deciding instead that a probe by Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire was the best way to address any outstanding issues. Last October Dr Maguire published a report which that RUC Special Branch withheld some intelligence from detectives hunting the bombers. No-one ever been convicted of carrying out the attack but Seamus Daly (pictured above), a 44-year-old bricklayer from Cullaville, Co Monaghan,(has been stiched-up) and is currently charged with the 29 murders, which he denies. Central to Mr Gallagher’s case is a contention that the British government has a duty under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights to protect lives and investigate the bombing. His lawyers claim a range of intelligence from British security agents, MI5 and RUC officers could have been drawn together to stop the killers in their tracks. An alleged gap in the information relates to monitoring of the bomb and scout cars as they crossed from the South into the North of Ireland on the border into Omagh on the day of the attack. It has been suggested that a BBC Panorama documentary has raised the possibility of other intelligence than the intercept material which has been the subject of investigations to date. In the High Court yesterday Paul McLaughlin, for the secretary of state, confirmed her intention to seek a closed material procedure before the full judicial review hearing can take place. The process, brought in under the Justice and Security Act, run by David Ford of the Alliance Party,(pictured left), can assess whether pubilc disclosure of some information would be damaging to (so-called) national security. With the other side in such proceedings kept in the dark about the contents, some have claimed it could give rise to ‘secret courts’. Mr McLaughlin stressed that a special advocate has to be appointed by the Advcocate General for the North of Ireland before the application is made. He said an “intensive” review of all available material has been carried out. “We have been going through a difficult process of trying to work out what evidence there is, and what evidence there is, and what evidence can be served in open as opposed to what is required to be filed in a closed hearing,” the barrister said. “We are trying to put together an enormous jigsaw of what material exists and who it has been examined by.” During exchanges Mr Justice Treacy emphasied how the case centered on whether all intelligence material was made available. “If the intelligence services (MI5) don’t know what they shared and who with, that would be deeply troubling,” he said. The case was adjourned for a further review in two weeks’ time.
With many thanks to: The Irish News, for the origional story.