POLITICIANS have reacted with anger and disappointment that there will be no public inquiry into the Omagh bomb atrocity.
The decision was announced on Thursday morning by Northern Ireland Office Secretary of State Theresa Villiers in a letter handed to the families of 29 people killed on August 15, 1998 by the Real IRA.
Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister MLA blasted the decision as “scandalous”.
He said: “I am dismayed that the Secretary of State has decided a public inquiry should not be held into the Omagh bombing.
“The relatives of those who lost their lives deserve to know the truth and are understandably terribly disappointed by this decision.
“Once again it seems that there is one rule for those cases championed by Republicans and another for the countless victims of Republican terrorism.
“If 29 innocent people had been murdered on the UK mainland there would be no question of not having a public inquiry.
“It is nothing short of scandalous that the families of Omagh have been treated differently.”
The SDLP said the decision robbed the relatives of those killed 15 years ago of getting to the truth of what happened that day.
Leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP said: “This decision by the Secretary of State is a further disappointment to the Omagh families who have campaigned with such bravery over the past 15 years to seek the truth behind what happened to their loved ones.
“The families of those who were killed and injured at Omagh deserve openness and truth about the circumstances that led to the devastating bombing, the aftermath and subsequent investigation.
“Their struggle will not end until that truth is exposed.
“The SDLP are meeting with the Secretary of State today and we intend to raise this issue with Ms Villiers.
“To make this announcement just before the Haass talks and on a day when Amnesty International issued a report demonstrating our failure to deal with the past and how victims have been let down by the Westminster Government and local political parties sends a worrying signal.
“It does nothing but confirm that London is resistant to further truth and accountability. Vested interests of state organisations and terror groups must not be protected at the expense of the Omagh families,” he added.
The SDLP’s West Tyrone MLA Joe Byrne added: “I want to commend the Omagh families for their determination in keeping the Omagh bombing and the aftermath on the agenda of the British and Irish governments over the past 15 years and to assure them of the on-going support of the SDLP.
“The truth about Omagh is important not only for the families but to ensure that a similar tragedy cannot reoccur.”