Day 2

Sunday 16th

Political leaders return to the UK

As the stunned people of Tyrone and Donegal tried to take in the horror, news of the atrocity encircled the earth. A number of political leaders who were on vacation at the time of the explosion broke off their holidays to return to the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister Tony Blair returned from holiday in France and flew to Northern Ireland. Mo Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, also returned to Northern Ireland from her holiday in Greece.

Emergency telephone service

The Royal Ulster Constabulary issued an emergency telephone service for members of the public concerned for the safety of friends and relatives.


Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), described the event as "the most evil deed in years" and said that those responsible would be ruthlessly pursued. The Thirty-Two County Sovereignty Committee issued a statement saying that it was not connected in any way to the explosion.


British Prime Minister Tony Blair condemned the attack as an "appalling act of savagery and evil". John Prescott, then British Deputy Prime Minister, paid a visit to the scene of the explosion in the early afternoon. Mary McAleese, President of the Republic of Ireland, also paid a visit to Omagh. From around the world messages of sympathy and grief were sent to the people of Omagh and all those affected. There was an eerie silence in the town as shock, disbelief and an almost unbearable sadness takes hold of the entire community.

Omagh leisure centre

Omagh Leisure Centre was used as a base for the relatives and friends of the dead and injured to hear news about what had happened. A temporary morgue was set up at Lisanelly army barracks.

Ambulance crash

Tragically an ambulance transferring patients to hospitals in Belfast was involved in a traffic accident with a car on the Knock Road which resulted in the death of the driver of the car.

Spanish ambassador

The Spanish ambassador Alberto Aza visited the town and some of the injured. The parents of Fernando Blasco Baselga arrived to take home the body of their son.

Phone systems fail

Communication in the area continued to be a problem. There were so many trying to reach family and friends the phone systems could not cope. Two of the dead had still not been identified by the evening of the second day. At the scene of the bomb forensic officers searched for evidence of the type of device used.