Hundreds of people gathered in Market Street in Omagh, on Wednesday afternoon, for a commemoration service organised by the town’s churches to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the single worst atrocity of ‘the Troubles’.
Twenty-nine people and two unborn children lost their lives after a bomb left by the Real IRA exploded in Market Street, in the town centre, 20 years ago today. The device went off at the precise spot where today’s service took place.
The service was arranged by the Churches’ Forum in Omagh, whose co-chairman are the Rector of Drumragh with Mountfield, Rev Ian Linton, and the Parish Priest of Omagh, Fr Eugene Hasson.
The two church leaders were joined by the Minister of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Omagh, Rev Robert Herron OBE; the Minister of Omagh Methodist Church, Rev Eleanor Hayden; and the Parish Priest of Drumquin, Father Kevin Mullan.
Two members of the congregation at St Columba’s Church of Ireland – organist Derrick Weir and chorister Laura Fall – led singing of the hymn ‘Be Not Afraid’.
Two men took turns to knell a bell – 32 single tolls, one for each victim of the Omagh bombing and one for all victims of violence. The last toll sounded at ten past three, the time when the car bomb exploded twenty years ago.
Former RUC officer Richard Scott, who assisted many of the casualties of the Omagh bombing, read a poem during the service and laid a wreath in a local alleyway where many of the injured and dying were carried 20 years earlier.
A ripple of applause greeted the end of the service. As they dispersed, the hundreds present were invited to take white rose petals from baskets that were handed round the crowd and scatter them in the nearby memorial garden or the adjoining River Strule, in a gesture symbolising peace and hope for the future.