On Saturday, 15 August 1998, a bomb exploded in Omagh killing 29 people and two unborn children. The reports by the Police Ombudsman and the Chief Constable into the investigation of that atrocity have generated considerable public discussion. As the Ombudsman herself has stated, we must not lose sight of the fact that the persons responsible for the tragic loss of so many lives in Omagh that day were those who planned and executed the atrocity. To date, one person has been found guilty of offences related to this bombing. However long it takes us, the other perpetrators of this evil deed must be found and held fully to account before the law.
On 12 December 2001, the Police Ombudsman issued a report which raised issues of very serious concern about the conduct of the police investigation into the Omagh bombing. The Chief Constable issued a detailed response on 23 January last. Both have presented their respective views to the Omagh families.
It is now a matter for the Policing Board to assess these reports and take this issue forward. Members of the board met with the Omagh families on 27 January and the board had separate meetings with the Ombudsman and the Chief Constable on Tuesday last, 5 February. That meeting was adjourned at a late hour and the board is meeting again today to continue its consideration of the issues arising from the two reports.
Since its inception last November, the members of the Policing Board have worked well together and they have endeavoured to deal with difficult issues in a sensitive and constructive manner. The Office of the Ombudsman, the Policing Board and the new police service are all key elements in the new policing arrangements for Northern Ireland. It is important that this matter now be taken forward in a manner which inspires confidence in the new policing order and reassures the relatives that those responsible for the Omagh bomb will be brought to justice.