The Omagh bomb was the worst massacre in Northern Ireland's modern history - yet from it came an extraordinary tale of human resilience- as the bombers congratulated themselves on escaping justice, the bereaved families determined on a civil case against them and their organisation. No one had ever done this before- many are likely to do it in the future. It was a very domestic atrocity. In Omagh, on Saturday, 15 August, 1998, a 500lb bomb placed by the Real IRA, murdered twenty-nine shoppers and two unborn babies - five men, fourteen women and nine children, of whom two were Spanish and one English- the dead included Protestants, Catholics and a Mormon. Though the police believed they knew the identities of the killers, there was insufficient evidence and political determination to bring charges. Taking as their motto 'For evil to triumph, all that is necessary is for good men to do nothing', families of ten of the dead decided to pursue these men through the civil courts, where the burden of proof is lowe
Ruth Dudley Edwards is an historian, journalist and crime writer. Her non-fiction includes Victor Gollancz- a Biography (winner of the James Tate Black Memorial Prize), The Pursuit of Reason- The Economist, 1843-1993, and, most recently, Newspapermen; her nine crime novels are satires on the British Establishment.