The wording of the narrative..

The “search for appropriate wording” for a memorial to the victims of the Omagh bombing has been a long one. But the BBC reports tonight that Omagh District Council has accepted the recommendations of the working group they appointed, in time for the 10th Anniversary of the attack. Although the BBC report doesn’t include a response from the Omagh Support and Self Help Group it notes the suggested compromise, as accepted by the Council. But the detail, below the fold, reveals that the ‘contentious wording’ preferred by the Omagh Support and Self Help Group is to be used only within quotation marks – and the support group’s memorial stone will not be put back. From the BBC report

There will be three parts to the new memorial, with less contentious language used to describe the bombing on an engraving at the site of the explosion and on a wall leading to the nearby garden of remembrance. The families’ preferred wording will be carried on a stone wall in the garden itself.

The families’ preferred wording, according to the report, is

“To honour and remember 31 people murdered and hundreds injured from three nations by a dissident republican terrorist car bomb.”

The “less contentious language” is, however, not mentioned in the BBC report.

But from the working group report [pdf file]



A car bomb exploded at this site on Saturday 15 August 1998 at 3.10 p.m. This act of terror killed thirty-one people, injured hundreds, and changed forever the lives of many.


Saturday 15th August 1998 at 3.10 pm

To honour and remember the 31 men, women and children who were killed, the hundreds injured and those whose lives were changed forever in the Omagh bomb. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5)


Section 1:- Weather-wise it was one of the best days that summer had seen. Ordinary people were doing ordinary things on an ordinary day. In one fateful moment all this was changed forever. Time stood still, futures were obliterated, lives were shattered, hearts were broken. In the carnage, emergency personnel and many ordinary people reached out, helped the injured, gave hope to the dying and held the dead. That evening a great silence descended on the town.

Section 2:- Alphabetical listing of the names and ages of those killed along with the names of the townlands, towns or cities from which they came. This list will probably be in three columns, each headed by the phrase (One in Spanish, one in English and one in Irish)

“Bear in mind these dead” (John Hewitt)

(“Bear in mind these dead”. From the poem “NEITHER AN ELEGY NOR A MANIFESTO”. P188 “The Collected Poems of John Hewitt”. Ed. Frank Ormsby. The Blackstaff Press Ltd. Belfast. Used with permission)

Section 3:- In the week which followed, people walked with one another in the companionship of shared grief as funeral followed funeral. From all over the world came visitors, messages of sympathy, condemnation, solidarity, hope and practical support.

Section 4:- The Omagh bomb was the largest single atrocity in over thirty years of violence in which over 3700 people were killed. The bomb took place four months after the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement of 10 April 1998, subsequently endorsed in referenda in both parts of Ireland on 22 May 1998

Section 5:- In the years that followed people in Omagh and elsewhere sought to rebuild their lives, their families, their community, and to create a new future. Regardless of the past, every new day dawns as a gift laden with its own possibilities, as the morning sun banishes the darkness of night. “To honour and remember 31 people murdered and hundreds injured from three nations by a dissident republican terrorist car bomb”. (Omagh Support and Self Help Group) “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. (Micah: 6:8) [added emphasis]


That BBC report again

Although Mr Dunlop’s team recommended that the stone was not returned to the garden as it did not fit with the new design, he stressed that the inscription was being incorporated.

  • Turgon

    I find it frankly incredible that the words requested by the Omagh families who are, I believe, a cross community organisation are not to be used.

    What neither Omagh council nor those appointed to advise on this will be able to explain is the people who planted that bomb were dissidents, terrorists and self described as republicans.

    That John Dunlop was, however, involved in this dishonest fudge should surprise no one. I am sorry if this is playing the man but his self righteous pontification on politics is one of the many reasons why I am at times ashamed to be a Presbyterian.

  • Pete Baker


    The Council’s compromise appears to be that the wording will be used.

    But it will be used only as a quote from the Omagh Support and Self Help Group.

  • Turgon

    Yes I see but only in quotes as you say. Quotation marks imply that it is someone’s opinion: not a fact. I cannot understand how anyone can explain those responsible as other than dissident republican terrorists. Dunlop and the council would, however, no doubt find some weasel way to explain this supposed compromise but in reality pretty pathetic concession. That they might have a weasel way so to do does not in any way make their behaviour any the less dishonest. Indeed it merely demonstrates a willingness to be deceitful about deceit.

  • Pete Baker

    “Quotation marks imply that it is someone’s opinion: not a fact.”


  • And here was me thinking the the memorial was there to remember the dead- who better to decide on the manner in which they ought to be remembered than their own families? Clearly SF thinks otherwise.

    Can we now assume that any reference to persons of their own political persuasion whom they wish to remember will be interpolated with inverted commas to take account of the fact that not everyone would agree with their view of said persons? After all, not all of us would see convicted or active terrorists as inspirational, good role models or freedom fighters.

  • willowfield

    There will be three parts to the new memorial, with less contentious language used to describe the bombing

    What was considered to be “contentious” about the original language?

    I’m not comfortable with the reference to the Belfast Agreement – does this imply that atrocities committed before the Agreement were somehow less criminal than those committed afterwards?

  • DM

    Aye, exactly what is contentious about saying ‘dissident republican carbomb’? Maybe someone could explain why SF find this description of the event unacceptable?

  • Dewi

    “Weather-wise it was one of the best days that summer had seen”

    There are plenty of people here who dislike sloppy language. For me that is a terrible sentence to place on such a memorial. Weather-wise? Ludicrous – and strangely out of place as the rest of the wording seem poignant and appropriate.

  • willowfield

    The style does seem inappropriate.