Appeals against Omagh bomb to go ahead after legal aids granted to four held liable

Appeals against the Omagh bomb civil action are to go ahead after legal aid was granted to all four men held liable for the atrocity.

Judges were told funding has been secured for each of the dissident republican suspects - including Liam Campbell, the alleged Real IRA chief who was undefended at the original trial.

Victims' families who brought the lawsuit have also received backing to press for a more punitive award of exemplary damages against those deemed responsible.

A hearing is now expected to take place later this year, with lawyers predicting it could last for two weeks.

In a landmark ruling last June Mr Justice Morgan, now the Lord Chief Justice, ordered that more than £1.6m in total should be paid out to 12 relatives who sued over the August 1998 bombing which claimed 29 lives and injured hundreds more.

Liam Campbell, who is currently in custody facing a bid to have him extradited to Lithuania on arms smuggling charges, was held to be a member of the Real IRA's Army Council at the time of the bombing.

Jailed dissident leader Michael McKevitt and two other men, Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly, were also found responsible for the bombing following a year-long civil trial.

Campbell initially directed lawyers to defend him in the case before he withdrew from proceedings at an early stage.

But with legal aid secured, two barristers have been instructed to challenge the finding against him.

His solicitors are also now set to trawl through the original trial transcripts to identify all references to him as part of their case.

Judges in the Court of Appeal were told that McKevitt is seeking records from the hearings held in Dublin during the action.

Mary Higgins QC, for Daly, asked for two weeks to be set aside for the appeal.

After hearing submissions Lord Justice Higgins set all sides an end of term deadline to secure the materials required.