Omagh atrocity ‘reminds us that peace is worth protecting at all costs’ - SDLP Leader

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has said that the 20th Anniversary of the Omagh bombing offers a stark and timely reminder that the road to peace, albeit long and at times difficult to navigate, is the only route worth travelling.

Mr Eastwood also pointed out his frustration that two decades on from the worst atrocity of the 30-year conflict, that the families of victims are still denied truth and justice.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/08/98 The scene of devastation in Omagh back in August 15, 1998.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/08/98 The scene of devastation in Omagh back in August 15, 1998.

He was speaking ahead of a vigil in Buncrana tonight at 9pm in memory of the local victims and the others who lost their lives in the August 15, 1998 atrocity.

The vigil will be held at Knockalla Drive in the Inishowen town, where two of the child victims of the bombing- Sean McLaughlin, who was aged 12, and eight-year-old Oran Doherty - lived.

They had been on a day trip with Spanish exchange students staying in Buncrana and had stopped off in Omagh on the way back when they were killed.

A third boy who lived in Buncrana James Barker (aged 12), and who was originally from Surrey in England, was also among those who were killed in the atrocity, along with Spanish exchange student Fernando Blasco Baselga (12) and Rocio Abad Ramous (23), both from Madrid.

As well as the 29 people killed, among them a woman pregnant with twins, many more people were injured that day.

MLA for Foyle Mr Eastwood commented: “The pain of Omagh families and victims should serve us with an important reminder that the road to peace is worth protecting at all costs.

“Twenty years on from the worst atrocity of our conflict- and despite politics failing to deliver for victims and their families- the resilience of Omagh town and all those affected, provide us with the ultimate example that reconciliation and agreement in the face of adversity is always possible.

“I sincerely hope that today’s anniversary, which marks the death of 31 innocent civilians, sends a stark message to all those holding up power-sharing in the North, that the obstacles we think we might face in politics fly in the face of insignificance when it comes to the pain and hurt felt by all those affected by this brutal atrocity.”