Murder accused in Omagh court over 1998 bombing

Thursday 25 February 2016 22.20
29 people died in the 1998 bombing in Omagh
29 people died in the 1998 bombing in Omagh

A 45-year-old man accused of murdering 29 people in the Omagh bombing has appeared in court in the town for the first time.

Seamus Daly sat in the dock of Omagh Magistrates' Court as a hearing commenced to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to Crown Court trial.

Mr Daly is charged with committing the 1998 Real IRA atrocity in the Co Tyrone market town and a number of other terror offences.

He has been on remand in prison since his arrest in April 2014 when he appeared in court in Dungannon.

Subsequent hearings have been conducted by video link from Maghaberry high security prison near Lisburn, Co Antrim.

Relatives of a number of those killed in Omagh watched from the public gallery of the courtroom as Mr Daly, from Kilnasaggart Road, Jonesborough, Co Armagh, sat metres away in the glass-enclosed dock.

At the outset, the accused stood as the names of his alleged victims were read out and as each individual charge was put to him.

At the conclusion, he answered "no" when asked if he objected to the holding of the hearing.

District Judge Peter King is assessing evidence to determine if it is of sufficient strength to warrant trial.

A number of witnesses are set to give evidence over two days.

Legal restrictions prevent media outlets reporting details of any evidence heard during the preliminary investigation.

As well as the 29 murder counts, Mr Daly faces charges of causing the August 1998 explosion and possession of a bomb with intent to endanger life or property.

He is further charged with conspiring to cause an explosion and having explosives with intent in connection with a separate dissident republican bomb plot in Lisburn in April that year.

Bereaved relatives Michael Gallagher, Cat Gallagher-Wilkinson and Stanley McComb were among those who were present at the start of the first day of the hearing.

The proceedings are expected to last two days.