[Sinn Fein]

2 September 1998

Statement on Omagh Tragedy

Statement on the Omagh Tragedy from Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD for Cavan/Monaghan in Leinster House this morning.

Ar mo shon féin, ar son Sinn Fein agus ar son mhuintir an Chabháin agus Muineacháin seolaim ón áit seo comhbhrón ó chroí dóibh siúd uile a d'fhulaing mar gheall ar an uafáis in Ómaigh. Mar atá ráite agam go poiblí roimhe seo, ba ionsaí é ar an bpróiséas síochána i gcoitinne agus ar stráitéis síochána Sinn Fein ach go háirithe. Is é an freagra is éifeachtaí anois ná chun dul ar aghaidh gan moill leis an bpróiséas agus chun Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta a chur i bhfeidhm.

I wish to extend the continuing sympathy and solidarity of myself, of Sinn Fein and of my constituents in Cavan and Monaghan to all who were bereaved or injured by the bombing of Omagh in our neighbouring County of Tyrone. The devastating personal impact of this tragedy was widely felt, especially in the network of inter-related communities along the border. We in that region know, from the experience of long conflict which has touched all of us, that the process of grieving, recovering and rebuilding broken lives will take many years. The magnitude of this tragedy, which ranks with very few others in the 30 years of conflict, makes that process even more difficult.

The dignity in grief of the people of Omagh, of those in Buncrana and of the relatives of the Spanish victims has been remarkable. My party colleagues in County Tyrone have described as ``humbling'' the demeanour of the bereaved and the injured. This is a community united in sorrow but also in determination to see lasting peace as the permanent memorial for their loved ones.

For our part we in Sinn Fein are more determined than ever to ensure that a lasting and democratic peace settlement is achieved and firmly established.

The bombing of Omagh was an attack on the peace process in general and on the Sinn Fein peace strategy in particular. It ran completely contrary to the democratic consensus among Irish republicans.

Those who carried out the bombing hold themselves accountable to no community or political constituency. I believe that the republican consensus and the weight of public opinion generally, will ensure that their ill-conceived campaign, unbearably tragic though its consequences were in Omagh, will have been short-lived.

The response to Omagh must now be a redoubling of efforts to ensure that the full potential of the Good Friday Agreement is reached. The spirit and the letter of the Agreement must be implemented. The Assembly must meet, the Executive must be established with due representation in ministries for all so entitled by virtue of their electoral mandate, the North/South Ministerial Council and implementation bodies need to be in place and working this autumn. Progress on issues of justice and equality, on demilitarisation, on prisoners and policing, must be made and be seen to be made.

Now is not the time for party-politicking or point scoring, for recriminations or the placing of new obstacles to progress. The onus is on all those democratically mandated by the people of Ireland to join together in the creation of a new political dispensation. The Good Friday Agreement was endorsed by the electorate on both sides of the border because it contained the promise of change and the prospect of lasting peace. Change and peace are inextricably linked. If we lose sight of that then the efforts of those seeking to wreck the peace process will succeed.

A return to a failed repressive agenda would run completely contrary to the Good Friday Agreement. It is time to leave the political failures of the past and the political conflict of the past behind us. We in Sinn Fein are certain that we have done all in our power to end the conflict. We have led Irish republicanism successfully into a peace strategy.

We have made the republican consensus for a negotiated peace settlement an absolutely central part of the peace process. That is still our ongoing task. We will fulfil our obligations and our mandate. Others must do the same. In conclusion let me again express sympathy and solidarity to the bereaved and injured of Omagh. Our commitment to them and to all who have been bereaved or injured in the conflict is to work without stint until lasting peace and democracy is established.

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