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Film to tell of N.Ireland’s Omagh bombing

Attack was bloodiest in 30 years of conflict
/ Source: Reuters

Relations of victims of the 1998 Omagh bombing will see their story brought to the big screen in a film about the bloodiest single attack in Northern Ireland’s 30-year conflict.

The film, which is being made with the cooperation of a support group representing victims’ families, will focus on the aftermath of the bombing that killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.

“We’ve had a lot of consultation with the people making the film, which is basically the story of the families’ fight for truth and justice over the past five years,” Michael Gallagher, chairman of the Omagh Victims’ Group, told Reuters.

“People don’t really understand the struggle the families had, and we hope that this will be a good medium to bring it to a wider audience.”

In recent days, the production crew has been filming in Navan, in the Irish Republic, recreating the devastation when a 500-pound car bomb exploded in the center of the Northern Irish market town of Omagh on Aug. 15, 1998.

On Tuesday, a group of relatives will visit the film set in Dublin. Gallagher, whose 21-year-old son, Aiden was among those killed, has already met actor Gerard McSorley, who is portraying him in the production.

“It is strange to meet somebody playing yourself,” he said. “He’s a very nice person, and he’s originally from Omagh, so I’m sure he’ll bring more meaning to the film.”

The bombing was carried out by the Real IRA, a splinter group opposed to the 1997 cease-fire called by the Irish Republican Army in its long campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland.

No one has been charged with murder in the attack, and the relatives’ group has long believed authorities on both sides of the Irish border could have done more to catch the bombers.

Frustrated at the lack of progress in the police investigation, they are bringing a civil action against five men they blame for the attack.

The dramatization of their story has been co-written by Guy Hibbert and Paul Greengrass, who was behind an award-winning film about the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings, in which British troops shot and killed 13 civil rights protesters in Londonderry.

The production has been financed by the Irish Film Board, Irish state broadcaster RTE and Britain’s Channel 4, and will be released later in the year.