Empty apology on Omagh

August 21, 1998

The following editorial appeared in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times:

No one expected the road to peace in Northern Ireland to be without risk, but last week's terrorist bombing in the busy market town of Omagh was unimaginably ruthless. And Tuesday's admission of guilt and an apology by the self-dubbed "Real IRA" cannot erase an inch of the horrible stain that the bombing leaves on Ulster's soil.

Using a verifying code word, the group told a Belfast newspaper that "it was not our intention at any time to kill any civilians. It was a commercial target, part of an ongoing war against the Brits.

"We offer apologies to these civilians."

Apologies? The bomb killed 28 and wounded 220. The top British official in Ulster called the mea culpa a "pathetic attempt to apologize for and excuse mass murder."

This cowardly act was no doubt meant to provoke a retaliation that could derail the peace process. But the terrorists have failed. If anything, the bombing seems to have strengthened the will for peace.

The decision of the vast majority in Ireland and Britain is unchanged. Protestants and Roman Catholics in Ulster have twice endorsed peace at the polls. First on May 22 when voters from Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, in separate referendums, approved the peace agreement, then again on June 25 when Northern Ireland voters elected an Assembly that will represent all the people of the province.

Those small groups of terrorists still active cannot surmount the tide they are marching against. The demand for peace is that strong.

Pub Date: 8/21/98

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