Monday 23 April 2018

Massive Garda security operation prevents paramilitary display at Omagh bomb suspect’s funeral

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

GARDAI launched a major security operation to prevent a paramilitary display at the funeral of Omagh bomb suspect Seamus McKenna.

A massive Garda presence including riot police and mounted units as well as air support, closely monitored the approximately 250 mourners at the funeral just south of the border in Ravensdale Co Louth.

There were tense moments as Gardai and about 40 mourners in white shirts and black ties faced-off briefly in the cemetery.

Mr McKenna died on Sunday after sustaining serious head injuries when he fell from scaffolding while carrying out repairs on a school near Dundalk last week.

Police on both sides of the border suspect that he was linked by a mobile phone to the Omagh atrocity which killed 29 people in August 1998.

He was never charged in connection with the bombing but he was sued by families of the Omagh victims.

Although Mr McKenna was cleared by the judge, the families won their case against four others including Real IRA founder Michael McKevitt.

Gardai sealed off all roads leading to the tiny village of Ravensdale and mourners passed through checkpoints, including one manned by armed officers, to reach St Mary’s church.

Earlier this week Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan indicated that a paramilitary display would not be tolerated.

After the funeral mass there were tense moments as the group of mourners in white shirts lined up facing Gardai over Mr McKenna’s grave before they turned in a military-style drill and marched out of the cemetery.

The funeral passed off peacefully, without the kind of paramilitary display with guns and combat fatigues seen at the 2012 funeral of alleged Real IRA figure Alan Ryan.

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