Spy warned of Omagh bomb weeks before blast

Adrian Rutherford

A SECRET email reveals that intelligence chiefs were told that Omagh was a prime target for a terrorist attack – weeks before the Real IRA bomb that devastated the town.

The communique from FBI spy David Rupert warned that dissident republicans were in the final stages of planning a major attack, and identified Omagh as a likely target.

The confidential memo now forms a key part of a report commissioned by victims' families who are campaigning for a full public inquiry into the atrocity. Relatives claim the dossier proves that authorities failed to share vital intelligence, which they say could have prevented the bombing.

Although the report was presented to the British and Irish governments more than a year ago, the families have not been told if an inquiry will be held.

The victims' relatives said they would go to court if their calls are rejected. It is understood that legal action could begin within weeks.

Michael Gallagher (pictured), who lost his son Aidan in the 1998 massacre, said the lack of answers from the governments was prolonging the families' agony. The families were particularly critical of Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Justice Minister Alan Shatter.


A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice in Dublin said Mr Shatter is still considering the report, presented to him by the group in July 2012.

The report draws on 4,000 emails from Mr Rupert, an American informant who infiltrated the Real IRA and Continuity IRA, and his MI5 handler. The huge tranche of emails are understood to provide detail on potential planning, locations and personnel for an attack in the weeks leading up to August 1998.

One of the emails identifies Omagh as being one of two likely targets. The note is marked secret and dated April 11, 1998 – four months before the bombing – and was sent by Mr Rupert to his handlers.

"Derry or Omagh would be 2 suspect viable targets," it states.

Speaking in Omagh yesterday, Mr Gallagher said he was startled by the correspondence.

"We feel there was an enormous amount of intelligence available – that intelligence was not used properly. As a result of that we have had no convictions," he said. He said that if a decision wasn't made, or their calls were rejected, the families would launch legal action.