Three Real IRA members have been declared bankrupt for failing to pay £1.6m to the victims of the 1998 Omagh bombing.
Yesterday’s High Court ruling in Dublin is the first time in the world that terrorists have been declared bankrupt for refusing to compensate their victims.
The three are former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, whom the court heard is terminally ill with cancer; former Real IRA director of operations Liam Campbell, and alleged bomb co-ordinator Colm Murphy.
They have also been ordered to pay the hundreds of thousands of euros in costs for the bomb victims.
The case will now be transferred to the Republic’s bankruptcy assignee, who will likely liquidate the assets of the three men and transfer the money to the Omagh families.
A fourth man, Real IRA bomber Seamus Daly, is facing similar bankruptcy proceedings in Northern Ireland.
A court in Belfast had found the four men liable for the 1998 Omagh bombing in which 29 people were killed, including a mother nine months pregnant with twins.
More than 200 people were injured in the outrage, some blinded or maimed for life.
The High Court in Dublin recognised that Belfast judgment and the financial battle against the trio moved to the Republic.
Justice Teresa Pilkington yesterday declared that the three had not properly responded to the bankruptcy proceedings and were not entitled to another adjournment.
The court heard that Campbell sent a letter on February 14 to John O’Donnell, the barrister for the Omagh families, saying that he had applied for legal aid in 2018 and was waiting to hear back if a lawyer would be appointed to him.
Mr O’Donnell said it was odd that Mr Campbell would apply for legal aid three years after the case moved to the High Court in Dublin.
McKevitt gave no response to a letter from the Omagh families seeking a full response to the bankruptcy case but indicated, through his legal representatives, that he is “terminally ill” and was not in a position to give a full affidavit to the court.
He said that his wife, Bernadette Sands McKevitt, may be able to draft an affidavit outlining what assets he holds.
The court heard that Murphy had not given any response to the court.
Mr O’Donnell complained to Justice Pilkington that McKevitt’s submission followed several hearings in which there were “last-minute” submissions from the three men and said McKevitt had been given adequate warning about yesterday’s hearing.
Justice Pilkington said the submission from McKevitt’s wife would be of “no utility at all” and that she would grant the bankruptcy against all three men.
She noted that Campbell had submitted only a “very short letter”, was seeking “an open-ended” delay in the case, was not present in court nor had made any other submission.
She noted that Murphy personally owes €439,224 to quantity surveyor Mark Breslin, who lost his wife Geraldine (43) in the bombing, following an earlier hearing on his assets.
All four men were found by the High Court in Belfast to be responsible in a civil action for the 1998 car bombing.
Sir Declan Morgan ruled in Belfast that the Real IRA had planted the car bomb and gave inadequate and contradictory warnings that sent shoppers in the wrong direction, towards the car bomb, which exploded just after 3pm on Saturday, August 15, 1998.
It was the single worst atrocity of the Troubles and came just months after people on both sides of the Irish border voted in favour of the Good Friday peace agreement.
Justice Pilkington said she was aware of the “unfortunate background” of the case but had to view it as a debtor and bankruptcy case.
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the original story