Omagh survivor’s harrowing story helps to heal divisions

Kevin Skelton (left) and Eamonn Baker at the Holywell Trust's Garden of Reflection event in Derry on Wednesday
Kevin Skelton (left) and Eamonn Baker at the Holywell Trust's Garden of Reflection event in Derry on Wednesday

The widower of a woman killed in the Omagh bombing says the victims were sacrificed for the sake of the peace process.

Kevin Skelton was the guest speaker at the Holywell Trust’s Garden of Reflection event in Derry..

He told his story to a packed room including a group of visiting students from two American universities.

“I don’t think anyone is ever going to be caught because the Omagh bombing went deeper than the Real IRA,”

“I think that the Omagh bomb was a political bombing.

“Bloody Sunday started the Troubles and that Saturday in Omagh finished them.

“I think that bomb was deliberately let into that town. People were sacrificed to have what we have up on the hill (at Stormont) today.

“I may be wrong but until someone proves that I am wrong, I’ll keep saying it.”

Kevin’s wife Mena was one of the 29 people to be killed in Omagh on Saturday 15 August 1998.

They and their three daughters had been shopping in the town centre and had gone to different shops shortly before the bomb exploded at 3.10pm.

Mr Skelton told the group how his bereavement had led him to alcohol abuse and to the point of despair where he put a shotgun to his head.

But he said that the thought that his death would only do to his mother and family what the Real IRA bombers had done to him pulled him back.

“I think that we have to tell the story of the Troubles of the last 40 years to the younger generation,” he said.

“A lot of people have been born outside the Troubles and it is important that they learn.

“There are plenty or organisations out there that would like to turn the clock back and this is one way or making sure that it doesn’t happen.

“If they know what people have gone through they’ll think twice about joining these organisations.”

29 people were killed and 220 injured when the Omagh bomb exploded on 15 August 1998 at 3.10pm.

The bombing was carried out by the Real IRA in opposition to the Good Friday Agreement and the IRA’s ceasefire.

No-one has ever been convicted of the bombings, although a successful civil case has been brought with Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell, Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly found to have been responsible for the bombing in 2009.

Several victims’ support groups were established after the bombing, including Omagh-Families Moving On run by Kevin Skelton.

Kevin has since remarried to a Romanian woman Maria and they have two children living in Omagh.