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Thursday, January 28, 1999 Published at 16:42 GMT

Paisley defends naming 'terrorists'

Police are believed to know who planted the Omagh bomb

Reverend Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, has defended using Parliament to publicly name alleged terrorists.

In an interview with BBC News Online, Mr Paisley said he had received "tremendous support" after he identified people listed in a police dossier on a 1976 massacre.

[ image: Ian Paisley: Says he would name terrorists in Commons again]
Ian Paisley: Says he would name terrorists in Commons again
He also said he would back naming the Omagh bombers under parliamentary privilege. Conservative MP Andrew Hunter had threatened to identify those he believes are responsible for last year's atrocity, but has not yet done so.

RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan warned Mr Hunter not to carry out his threat as it could wreck chances of any future convictions.

Mr Paisley said he had received no direct response from Northern Ireland's police force after naming those he alleges were behind the murder of 10 Protestant workers at Kingsmill in South Armagh in January 1976.

"The only reaction I have seen from the RUC is a quotation in The Belfast Telegraph where one police officer says he only recognised one of the men.

"Well, it's a police dossier that I read from and I think that officer is only bringing the RUC into disrepute by rebuking his colleagues who did such diligent work to gather evidence of that awful terrorist act.

"I read from a police dossier about what happened at Kingsmill. I made my position absolutely and perfectly clear in the House and I have received tremendous support from the friends of the victims and also from the area in which that awful Kingsmill tragedy took place."

He said he would not hesitate to do the same again and that it could be right to publicly name people suspected of planting the Omagh bomb, which killed 29 and injured hundreds.

[ image: Andrew Hunter: Has
Andrew Hunter: Has "postponed" threat to name Omagh bombers
"I think that if Mr Hunter comes to the conclusion that the government and the security forces have evidence that they're not going to follow up and that they're not going to proceed against these bombers, then I think it would be Mr Hunter's duty to go ahead," he said.

"It has been admitted that the police know who the people are. If they know who they are and have any amount of evidence at all, better to have a trial, better to try these people and show them the law is working than engage in a colossal cover-up because it doesn't suit the so-called peace process.

"If Kingsmill had been followed up, we wouldn't have had Omagh and we wouldn't have had half the atrocities that we've had since."

Mr Paisley added that he welcomed Prime Minister Tony Blair's acknowledgement in the House of Commons on Wednesday that only an "imperfect peace" currently exists in Northern Ireland.

"Well I don't know what would be a proper process to call peace except if it was perfect. For peace is peace. You can't say I'm not much of an adulterer or I'm not much or a liar - there's no degrees on this.

"There's no peace in Northern Ireland. We have the killings and the bombings going on and they're increasing.

"If I thought for one minute this was the way to true peace then I'd back it, but it's not the way to peace, it's a cover up and those who are engaged in it are the worst breakers up of peace in the country like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness."

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