Ruth Dudley-Edwards

Omagh 10 years on

Omagh 10 years on
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So here I am in Omagh to attend the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the bomb that killed 29 people (and unborn twins) in the name of a united Ireland.  I'm writing a book about the civil case being taken by some of the families in an effort to nail some of the bastards - sorry, alleged bastards - responsible for this obscenity.

The ceremony this afternoon is supposed to be about peace and love and the coming together of different traditions, but - in the Irish way - there is a split and a scandal. 

The split is between the district council (21 members: 10 Sinn Fein) who are big on moving on and not mentioning the war (particularly not mentioning that it was a republican bomb) and the families who are taking the civil case who have refused to amalgamate their annual service with what they believe is a politicised event: theirs will be on Sunday.  What everyone wants to know is will Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinnness and others who - before 1998 - approved of bombs be there this afternoon in their good suits.

The scandal is that Dame Nuala O'Loan, who was the first Police Ombudsman, has told Woman's Hour:

"One of the things that surprised me, because I grew up in England, was that Protestants would have been taught as children that they could not trust Catholics...I could never understand why it mattered that I was a Catholic Police Ombudsman.  It baffled me."

Many things baffle me, but this morning the big baffler is that a woman married to a nationalist (SDLP) councillor had never heard of sectarianism.  By the way, though she now knows Protestants can be sectarian, she still hasn't heard that the same applies to Catholics.

Now I'm going to lie down in my darkened room before attending the ceremony.