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Omagh Memorial Garden 2021.jpg
Irish Eye/Alamy
World News

Omagh memorial service marks 25th anniversary of the bombing

by Premier Journalist

A poignant memorial service has been held in Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. 

The attack on 15th August 1998 came just four months after the signing of the historic Good Friday Agreement - making it Northern Ireland's first peacetime atrocity.

Twenty-nine people died and hundreds more were injured.  The attack was later claimed by a dissident republican group calling themselves 'the Real IRA' who were opposed to the peace deal and had rejected the ceasefire.

Omagh is a small, quiet village near an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' in Northern Ireland.  The bomb, which was inside a parked car, exploded on a Saturday afternoon in the main shopping street, tearing through the heart of the close-knit community.

The service at the memorial garden in Omagh was attended by British and Irish government ministers.

Father Eugene Hasson, the co-chair of Omagh Churches' Forum - one of the groups that organised the commemoration, was the chaplain of Tyrone County Hospital in 1998, and spent time with families waiting for news on the day of the attack.

He told the BBC the service was an important show of solidarity: "We weren't two communities on the 15th of August, we were one community," he said.

"I remember distinctly people 25 years ago saying the people of Omagh will have the power within them to deal with this.  At times they didn't feel that, maybe, and a lot of people who were more grievously hurt certainly didn't feel it.  But there is great resilience in people here. And in the course of my time here, in ministry, I have experienced and listened to and heard so much of that resilience."

During the service the Lord's Prayer was read in English, Irish and Spanish, to reflect the nationalities of those killed.  Two people from Spain, including a 12yr old child, were among the victims as well as three children from Co Donegal, south of the border.

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