The Omagh bombing in Co Tyrone on August 15, 1998, committed by the Real IRA, left 29 dead and hundreds injured.
The Omagh bombing inquiry will be launched following a court ruling that directed the government to establish a human rights-compliant investigation into the attack, Chris Heaton-Harris, Northern Ireland's Secretary of State, confirmed on Thursday, February 2.
Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan died in the atrocity, launched the legal challenge that resulted in the court ruling.
The Secretary of State has today announced that an independent statutory inquiry will be established into the preventability of the Omagh bombing in 1998. https://t.co/60CqegmjRB— Northern Ireland Office (@NIOgov) February 2, 2023
Heaton-Harris said that he had taken a number of factors into consideration before announcing the inquiry, including its independence, cost, and the testimonies of families affected by the bombing.
"I intend to establish an independent statutory inquiry into the Omagh bombing," Heaton-Harris said while speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, February 2.
"I have informed Mr. Gallagher and members of the Omagh Support and Self Help Group, as well as representatives of Families Moving On of this decision.
"The inquiry will focus specifically on the four grounds which the court held as giving rise to plausible arguments that the bombing could have been prevented.
"The inquiry will also need to take account of the findings of previous investigations to avoid duplication."
Michael Gallagher welcomed the announcement and said it would take a "long time" to sink in.
"The Secretary of State has given us everything that we have asked for, and we're very appreciative of that."
DUP MP Jim Shannon called on the Irish Government to launch a similar inquiry into the Omagh bombing, but Heaton-Harris said he could not compel the Irish Government to open an inquiry.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Ireland "would not be found wanting" in any inquiry into the Omagh bomb.
"There was probably a cross-border element to this crime and we are going to sit down with the UK authorities and work out how we can contribute to that," he told RTÉ.
Tánaiste Micheál Martin welcomed the announcement but said it also served as a reminder of the need to "deal effectively with the legacy of the past."
"What happened in Omagh was a heinous attack, carried out by people with no respect for the lives of others or for democracy on this island," Martin said in a statement.
"My thoughts are with the families of those murdered and with the survivors.
"The announcement by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris is welcome. I spoke with him last evening and he confirmed his intention to make today’s statement to me.
"We now await further detail from the UK Government, in particular on the Terms of Reference for their inquiry.
"I look forward to receiving that detail and then consulting with my Cabinet colleagues, in particular, the Minister for Justice, about the next steps."
My statement on the announcement of a UK Statutory Inquiry into the Omagh Bombing pic.twitter.com/tvp0qtiUdZ— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) February 2, 2023
The Real IRA bomb exploded in the town of Omagh on August 15, 1998, killing 29 and injuring more than 220 people. Among the dead was a woman who was pregnant with twins.
The bombing, which remains the largest loss of life in a single incident in Northern Ireland, took place four months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and caused both national and international outrage.