Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Justice for Omagh Victims

On the day of the Omagh bombing I was at Stormont. No I wasn't pulling some overtime, and besides the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment, where I worked at the time, was just off the estate. I was at the Northern Ireland Civil Service sports club playing in the semi-final of the Irish Junior Cup for bowls. There were enough civil servants on both teams and from the spectators to realise that there was a little bit too much activity, mainly arriving, at that time on a Saturday to be normal.

At the end of the game we learnt the full extent of what was going on around us. While in the warm summer's sun of that day eleven years ago we, like the people who were visiting Omagh, were making the most of what was seen as a start of a peaceful Northern Ireland. No criminal trial has been able to put away any of those accused of the attack by the Real IRA but yesterday the families of the victims got some justice as £1.6m in damages was awarded to the relatives of 29 people. While the monetary compensation may not be forthcoming in full from the accused in some small way it is the decision that they are accountable that is of some importance to the families.

The following Saturday at a different bowling green, we stood heads bowed as a mark of respect before delivering our first bowl. Like the victims of the previous weekend we were Protestant and Catholic merely, indeed more determined, to make the best that Northern Ireland was now offering.

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