The aid, worth 1.3 million dollars, will enable relatives of the victims to pursue a claim for 10 million pounds damages against those suspected of carrying out the bombing.

Announced by Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy, the cash will allow the families to pay the 1.5 million pounds legal costs of a civil legal case.

The 1998 bombing is blamed on the Real IRA, a dissident Catholic group opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process.

The government move comes a day after Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Dublin court for directing terrorism.

The 1.3 million dollars will enable relatives of the victims to pursue a claim for 10 million pounds damages against those suspected of carrying out the bombing

1998 explosion

The 1998 blast in the town of Omagh had left 29 dead and hundreds injured. It was the worst single atrocity in the running conflict between Northern Ireland’s  Protestant  majority and Catholic minority.

Last summer solicitors acting on behalf of the Omagh Victims’ Civil Action Group served writs on five people suspected of involvement in the bombing.

Friday’s announcement was hailed as “fantastic, unbelievable news” by Michael Gallagher, whose 21 year old son Aidan was killed in the bombing.

The Real IRA split from the mainstream Irish Republican Army, Northern Ireland’s main Roman Catholic paramilitary group, over the 1998 Good Friday peace process aimed at ending 30 years of sectarian strife.