Thursday 19 October 2017

Sean O'Driscoll: Omagh depravity haunted suspect

As the 15th anniversary of the Omagh bombing approaches, US attorney Sean O'Driscoll recalls how he spent years trying to get republican Seamus McKenna to give evidence against his fellow bombers

Seamus McKenna
Seamus McKenna

Sean O'Driscoll

IN death, Seamus McKenna is an unlikely hero, a man who, according to the dissident Republican Network for Unity, had nobly spent his life "confronting partition and British rule in Ireland" and a man worthy of a paramilitary funeral last week.

In reality, his life was, by McKenna's own admission, "a largely unhappy existence". Not only was he very strongly suspected of driving the car bomb into Omagh that lead to the deaths of 29 people and two unborn children in 1998, he was also a chronic alcoholic and a lonely, isolated man incapable of holding down work for more than a few weeks at a time.

I got to know him very well over the last two years. As an attorney in New York, I had discussed with some wealthy Irish-Americans the possibility of McKenna giving evidence against one of the accused in the Omagh case – the last-gasp attempt to finally win some convictions in the worst atrocity of the Irish Troubles.

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