As funerals begin, ‘Real IRA’ claims responsibility for bomb

OMAGH, Northern Ireland (AP) — The “Real IRA,” a splinter group opposed to Northern Ireland’s peace accord, admitted Tuesday that it carried out the bombing that killed 28 people and injured 220. It apologized for the deaths, saying its warnings were not properly followed.
The police and Ulster Television in Belfast also rejected the group’s claim that it gave clear warnings.
The splinter group called the Dublin office of a Northern Ireland newspaper, Irish News, using a recognized codeword.
News media said the claim appeared authentic and reflected embarrassment over Saturday’s bombing, which killed mainly women and children and was the deadliest attack in three decades of sectarian conflict.
On Monday, police arrested five suspected members of the “Real IRA,” which rejects the peace accord approved by the Irish Republican Army and its political ally Sinn Fein because the pact does not provide for a united Ireland. The reputed commander is a former IRA commander, Michael McKevitt, who broke away in October.
“Real IRA” said it warned Ulster Television twice and a branch of the Samaritans that the bomb was 300 to 400 yards from Omagh’s courthouse.
However, both the police and Ulster TV said the warnings stipulated the bomb was at the courthouse. Police cordoned off the building, unwittingly driving people closer to the blast in crowded shops of Market Street. The Royal Ulster Constabulary reiterated Tuesday that the warnings said the bomb was “near the courthouse.”
The British and Irish governments have pledged to do all they can to track down the bombers. They are discussing changing laws to make it easier to convict suspected terrorists.