A MOTION opposing the extradition of a man held liable for the Omagh bomb is expected to fall tonight when local councillors are asked to ratify it.
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Relatives of victims of the 1998 Real IRA reacted angrily earlier this month when Sinn Féin, SDLP and some independent representatives on Fermanagh and Omagh District Council backed the proposal by independent Bernice Swift, is to write to the taoiseach voicing concerns about Liam Campbell’s extradition to Lithuania. Campbell (58), who was found liable in a civil (not criminal) court for the Omagh attack along with three other men in 2009 (now is 2020 11 years later), was arrested in Upper Faughart, Dundalk in December 2016 on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by Lithuanian authorities. He is alleged to have organised smuggling of weapons for the Real IRA between the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007.
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The High Court in Dublin ordered Campbell’s extradition following a lengthy legal battle, with a judge concluding there was no evidence he would be subjected to inhuman and degrading prison conditions. However, at a July 8th meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s policy and resources committee, a majority of councillors voted to record their opposition to the extradition in a letter to Michéal Martin, on the grounds that Campbell’s human rights would be breached by poor prison conditions in the Baltic state. Within 24 hours of the meeting the SDLP group leader on the council apologised, saying it was “wrong” to support the motion and it would be opposed when it came before the full council for ratification.
Sinn Féin said it supported the motion on the basis that its “council group was of the view that the human rights concerns raised merited discussion by the full council”. It added that it “will ensure that the concerns and needs of the victims of the Omagh bombing are also reflected in that debate”. The party said last night that it has tabled an amendment to the motion “highlighting our concerns about the human rights of Liam Campbell”. The amendment also reiterates our utter condemnation of the Omagh bombing, our support for the victims and their families and our resolve to see those responsible being held accountable in a judicial and legal process.”
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DUP group leader Errol Thompson described the motion as “disgraceful and a total insult to the innocent victims of the Omagh bomb”. He said the party has also lodged a complaint to the Local Government Standards Commissioner in relation to Ms Swift and the chair of the policy and resources committee, Sinn Féin’s Stephen McCann. Claire Monteith, whose brother Alan Radford was killed in the blast, has also reported Ms Swift and Mr McCann to the local government Ombudsman. The Ulster Unionists have also tabled a counter motion tonight expressing solidarity with the victims of the bomb, in which 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins, were killed. It says the publicity surrounding the proposal to write to the taoiseach has “caused further pain and anguish anguish amongst the victims and their relatives”.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and John Manley Political Correspondent – firstname.lastname@example.org