Ulster Unionist members at Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have hit back at a controversial proposal earlier this month calling for support against the extradition of Liam Campbell.

Although unconnected to the extradition proceedings, Campbell was found civilly liable for the Omagh bomb in August 1998, which claimed the lives of 29 people (including a woman pregnant with twins) and injured 220 others.

He is currently wanted by Lithuanian authorities for allegedly organising the smuggle of weapons in support of “terrorist grouping” the Real IRA between 2006 and 2007.

Independent Councillor Bernice Swift brought the proposal before the Policy and Resources Committee, stressing it was: “Strictly under human rights.”

Campbell, she said: “Is an Irish citizen and we all know the track record of the Lithuanian prison regime. We wouldn’t want to see anyone from this country having to be treated in such inhumane terms and conditions. As an elected representative, I wish to protect the fundamental human and civil rights of anybody against abuses. I ask for support to stop that extradition and (council) write to the departments on behalf of Liam and his family.”

Current Council Chair Chris Smyth, attending the meeting as a member, enquired: “Is this the same Liam Campbell who has been civilly convicted of the Omagh bombing? I understand it is.”

Discussion on this was dismissed by Councillor Swift and the matter went to a vote which came in at 23 in favour, 14 against, with one abstention.

The move caused outcry.

The SDLP quickly apologised and advised they would not support the proposal at ratification.

Claire Monteith, whose brother Alan Radford was killed in the blast, reported Councillor Swift and the meeting Chair Councillor Stephen McCann, of Sinn Fein to the Local Government Commissioner.

The Democratic Unionists also reported both councillors, and the Ulster Unionists have now tabled a counter motion for the same meeting the vote is to be taken on whether or not Councillor Swift’s proposal will be ratified.

In an almost mirror opposite, the motion entitled ‘Support for the victims of the Omagh Bomb’ reads:

“This council wishes to express its solidarity with the victims of the Omagh bombing, which took place on August 15, 1998 and their continuing efforts for justice. This council notes that Mr Liam Campbell was found civilly liable of this atrocity and is subject to extradition proceedings in the Republic of Ireland on separate terrorism charges. The publicity surrounding this process has caused further pain and anguish among the victims and their relatives. In consequence of this, we propose that this council writes to the offices of an Taoiseach to speedily resolve this process owing to the effect that this is having on the people directly impacted locally.”

The motion is proposed by Ulster Unionist Group Leader Councillor Victor Warrington and seconded by Councillor Allan Rainey. With emotions high and opinions equally determined, the chamber could become the setting for a tense stand-off on tonight (Thursday), in what will be the last council meeting until September.