Case aginst Omagh bomb suspect ‘likely to proceed’

The Omagh bomb in August 1998 left 29 dead
The Omagh bomb in August 1998 left 29 dead

The case against a republican accused of killing 29 people in the Omagh bomb atrocity is likely to proceed, the High Court heard today.

Doubts had been raised over whether the murder charges against Seamus Daly would be maintained.

But a judge was told the test for continuing with the prosecution is now expected to be met.

A final decision will be confirmed next week.

Daly, a 44-year-old bricklayer, originally from Cullaville, Co Monaghan, and now residing in Jonesborough, Co Armagh, faces 29 counts of murder.

He is also accused of causing the August 1998 explosion in Omagh and possession of a bomb in the Co Tyrone market town with intent to endanger life or property.

Further charges have been brought against him of conspiring to cause an explosion and having explosives with intent in connection with a separate dissident bomb plot in Lisburn, Co Down in April that year.

No one has ever been found guilty of carrying out the Real IRA attack.

But Daly has already been found liable for the bombing in a landmark civil action taken by victims’ families.

A previous court was told a man named Denis O’Connor claims he phoned him on the day of the attack using a mobile suspected of having travelled into Omagh on the bomb run.

Cell-site analysis also allegedly links him to the earlier bomb incident at Lisburn involving a similar modus operandi and warnings.

Prosecutors claimed he gave police a false name - that of his brother - when he was detained in April last year.

Detectives were said to have been looking for him for five years.

At the time of his arrest he provided a prepared statement denying IRA membership or any involvement in either the Lisburn attempted bombing or the attack on Omagh, whose 29 victims included the mother of unborn twins.

Last month it was suggested that the case against Daly may be dropped.

At that stage a district judge at Omagh Magistrates’ Court gave the Public Prosecution Service three weeks to confirm its intentions.

As the accused went before the High Court today in a renewed attempt to secure bail, a PPS lawyer said three barristers have been instructed to provide advice in the case.

Opinions were sought on evidence from mobile phones and Denis O’Connor.

All deadlines have been met, and a decision is to be made by Daly’s next remand hearing on February 17.

Mr Justice Treacy inquired: “One way or the other, you’re going to indicate to the court whether the advice is that the test for prosecution is met?”

The prosecutor replied: “Without wishing to tie the hands of those who instruct me, it seems highly probable that the direction test will be met at this stage.”

Daly’s legal team had planned to mount a fresh attempt to secure bail based on alleged delays in progressing the case.

But they halted the application after the judge said the case seemed to have been “managed very carefully”.

He also pointed out that the district judge should first decide on the bail issue before any High Court appeal.

Relatives of two of those killed in the bombing, Aiden Gallagher and Ann McComb, attended the hearing to see Daly remain in custody.