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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Men found liable Omagh bombing are adjudicated bankrupt - High Court

Michael McKevitt
Michael McKevitt

Aodhan O Faolain

The High Court has adjudicated three men found liable for the Omagh bombing bankrupt.

On Monday Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington said she was satisfied to make bankruptcy orders in respect of Michael McKevitt, who the court heard is terminally ill, Colm Michael Murphy and Liam Campbell.

The bankruptcy applications were brought by lawyers acting for relatives of those killed in the bombing, carried out by the Real IRA.

In 2009 the judge Belfast High Court ruled that McKevitt, Campbell, Michael Colm Murphy and another man Seamus Daly were all liable for the bombing, and ordered them to pay Stg£1.6m damages to 12 relatives of the bombing.

That decision was upheld on appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

The 1998 attack was the single biggest atrocity of the Troubles, claiming 29 lives, including nine children and a woman pregnant with twins.

All of the defendants denied having any involvement in the bombing.

Arising out of the failure to pay the damages the relatives, represented by John O'Donnell SC, Andrew Robinson Bl instructed by solicitor Gary Daly brought proceedings before the High Court in Dublin seeking to have the three adjudicated bankrupt. 

The court heard that demands had been made on each of the three men to each pay some €439,000, which they had failed to do.

When the matter returned before the High Court on Monday Campbell of  Upper Faughart, Dundalk and Murphy of Lower Faughart, Dundalk, Co Louth and McKevitt from Blackrock in Co Louth did not appear in court.

A barrister told the court that he appeared for Mr McKevitt, who he said it was difficult to get instructions from because his client has terminal cancer.

The lawyer also said he acted for Mr Murphy, but did not have firm instructions in regards to the bankruptcy application. 

Mr O'Donnell told the court that all three should be adjudicated as bankrupts.

The application, counsel said, had been going on for some time, and all three individuals had been served with documents in the case.

Counsel said there had been correspondence last month from Liam Campbell, where he was seeking to obtain legal aid in regards the bankruptcy application.  

Counsel said that no adjournment should be granted in Liam Campbell's case.

Counsel added that Michael McKevitt had written to his client in October 2015.

In that correspondence Mr McKevitt, who repeated his denial of having anything to do with the bombing, said he had no assets, was suffering from terminal cancer, and the only source of income is the State pension. 

Counsel said that again there was no good reason advanced as to why Mr McKevitt or any of the others respondents should not be adjudicated as bankrupts.

In her ruling, Ms Justice Pilkington said she was satisfied to adjudicate all three as bankrupts. 

The Judge said all the required criteria contained relevant sections of the 1988  Bankruptcy Act had been complied with.

The judge said she was satisfied that all three had been served with the relevant documentation and it would not be appropriate to grant any further adjournments of the matter.

In 2003 McKevitt was convicted of two terrorist offences, membership of an illegal organisation, the Real IRA and directing terrorism between August 1999 and October 2000.

The three-judge Special Criminal Court sentenced him to twenty years in prison

Colm Murphy was cleared of all criminal charges in connection with the bombing. He had been convicted in connection with the bombing by the Special Criminal Court in 2002, which was later overturned on appeal.

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