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Who Bombed Omagh?, Monday October 9 2000

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Great programme, excellent. And fair play to the BBC for having the courage to go ahead and screen it, in spite of all the opposition towards it.
Dublin City, Ireland.

Well done for reporting on and indeed reminding us all of this real tragedy. Brave reporting and long may it continue. Let's just hope that one day the perpetrators of this awful cowardly crime are brought to justice.
Robert Kelly

Trial by television is still trial by television no matter how you try to turn our stomachs and manipulate our feelings with the views of the bereft. Starting with the mobile phone logs, John Ware took the ball and ran and ran right out of the park. You managed to fix in the minds of all your viewers the supposed guilt of the four men named as surely as Dr Skuse convinced the world that Annie MacGuire had busied herself making bombs in her kitchen. How reliable your 'evidence' is, is beside the point. Either guilt should be established or refuted in a court of law or we should continue to make entertaining television from suspicion, allusion, innuendo, 'intelligence' and supposition. Panorama can blind itself to the distinction between edification and entertainment but your viewers are not to be fooled.
A J Cowburn

John Ware is a brave man, I hope he gets away with it. (Though when Ian Paisley threatened to do the same thing there was absolute outcry.) The Result of the RIRA action may have been the worst atrocity, but many who had equally evil Intent are now in NI's government.

The 'Who Bombed Omagh?' edition of Panorama emphasised the importance placed by the authorities on analyses of mobile phone records for calls made in the vicinity of Omagh during the period before and after the outrage. However, the culprits would, I suspect, be aware that calls made using their phones would be traceable. Is it perhaps possible that the calls made between a supposed scout car, and bomb car on a northward journey to Omagh were in fact made as part of an elaborate decoy, the chances of success of which were enhanced because the phones involved were associated with known republican suspects? Could they in fact be protecting others less well-known to the security services?
Philip Wilmot

Absolutely tremendous. Journalism at its best - and how brave. A clearer case of the public interest would be hard to imagine.
Ross Lydall

Congratulations to John Ware and the Panorama team for the bravery and courage they have shown in confronting these "people". Let us all hope and pray that justice will prevail.
Brian Maxwell
London, U.K.

Excellent! However, how can we ever accept that justice will ever be reached. We the general public have had to accept the release of all the terrorists. What kind of message does this send out to scum like the Omagh bombers...I think the message is that they have nothing to fear from the law.

Last night's programme was appalling. Not only did Panorama put the lives of those named at risk but also the lives of their families and co-workers. All this based on supposition and conjecture. Let me point out that Sir Ronnie Flanagan himself stated that they THINK they know who is responsible and they THINK they know how it was done. Trial by media is a dangerous prospect anywhere and at any time but it is even more so when in relation to the north of Ireland. Furthermore, the programme may very well have succeeded in eliminating any hope of justice ever being served. My heart, once again, goes out the families and victims of the Omagh bombing. They have been dealt yet another blow.

I would like to commend you on the excellent programme on Omagh that you showed last night. Maybe I am a little biased due to the fact that my little brother James was murdered by the Real IRA on the 15th August 1998, at the age 12. I felt that the programme was informative and hopefully now the people who know even the smallest piece of information may come forward to the RUC or the Garda, and possibly someone can be finally bought to justice for the atrocity that has wrecked the lives of my family and hundreds of others in Omagh and surrounding areas. God bless to those who have suffered due to this stupidity of others.
Erin-Esther Barker

The programme on the Omagh bombing should be applauded. The people involved in the making of this programme are to be congratulated. The UK & Irish governments have not succeeded in bringing anyone to justice, perhaps the general public can now assist in bringing those involved to justice.
Len Bunn
Crawley, Sussex

I think that the programme was well balanced. I am only concerned by the effect that the naming of the suspects may have on an eventual conviction. If it helps to jog the memories of additional witnesses or give courage to existing witnesses to testify in court, then the programme will have met its objectives. Let's remember that those responsible for these 29 murders are just that, serial killers who deserve no special treatment.

Well done to Mr Ware for getting his shoes dirty and not shying away from confronting these people. Congratulations Panorama and also to BBC1 for a national broadcast.
Paul Irvine
Marlow, Buckinghamshire (previously Lack in Fermanagh)

Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Trial by media is a sad road for the BBC to have taken. I expected a more professional investigative programme rather than a "Robin Cook " style approach - What will be achieved by the programme? Where was the concrete evidence?
Mairead Kelly
Clondalkin, Dublin.

Having watched the programme last night, I was glad that you named these people. Well done for a truly excellent and informative programme. Let's hope something like that will never happen again
Stacey Mallendane

I am shocked that the BBC can broadcast the names and faces of suspects in any crime. Not convicted criminals, but suspects. These men have been denied a fair trial and may indeed be in personal danger due to this broadcast. I guess there is no such thing as "innocent until proven guilty" here.
An American in Britain

What I found disconcerting about the programme on the Omagh bombing was the nature of the 'evidence' presented. The circumstantial case hinged on the use of mobile phones, and the ability to track their use to particular times and locations. How did the programme makers come by this material? How were they able to identify these individuals? Was the information leaked from the RUC? Or was this part of a more machiavellian ploy to 'name and shame' in the hope that someone will crack and provide the hard evidence that is required? None of this seems to add up to due process of law.
Kevin Meethan

Thanks for a very worrying programme.

Congratulations for having the guts to go ahead and ask the questions

Vic, London
I, like a few folks, said I wouldn't watch it, then watched it with my flatmates in shock. The facts and figures may not completely add up - however what is factually known deserves to be aired to provide the general public with information on what is going on. Congratulations for having the guts to go ahead and ask the questions - we know you wouldn't have got answers too - but at least you did it.

I salute and praise all team members who took part in last night's programme. You are all very brave and hope something stirs in the core of the evil who committed such terror against the innocents who died. As a mother my heart went out to the mother of the young boy aged eight as well as all the others who lost their lives. In the past I have always complained about paying the high tv licence tax. However following your broadcast last night I would gladly pay it 1000 times over if it meant that the murderers were caught.
Kathryn Morgan-Jones

I wish to commend Panorama's efforts in trying to bring justice for the people of Omagh for the families of the victims by naming these people. However, my fear is that as a result of naming them and 'shaming' them (if this is possible) that JUSTICE may NEVER be seen to be done as this programme may have prejudiced the case. Sometimes I wonder what exactly 'justice' is.
Sandra Garry
Navan, Co. Meath, Ireland

Congratulations on your exposure of those suspected of involvement in the bombing of Omagh on the 15th August 1998. John Ware and the Panorama team are worthy of the best thanks of the people of Northern Ireland for this programme.
William Houston

Congratulations to the BBC and especially those involved in making this brave and challenging programme. Two years after the worst case of mass murder seen in these islands in recent times, the people responsible are still free to walk the streets of this country. This is shameful, and if this programme has the effect of bringing murderous cowards to justice, then we are seeing public service broadcasting at it's best.
Keith Mills
Dublin, Rep. of Ireland

There were too many loose ends in this story. It was not the traditional high standard of reporting of Panorama. The RUC Chief Constable started the report by pointed out the difference between intelligence and evidence, and your report forgets the distinction. You tell a plausible story to fit the pieces of data you use, mainly records of telephones used. You tell us that you do not know the movements of the people you point your finger at, so you can only speculate in whose hands these phones were and what was said. You do what the police cannot do, accuse people with insufficient evidence. You are close to what the police sometimes do: pick a target and then find the evidence. Rightly you remind us of the suffering caused by the death and injury, for the bombers carry responsibility for that, but you forget what was said at the "inquest", that the actions of the police in guiding people towards the bomb need close examination. Their actions were brushed over very superficially in your report. You hope that memories will be jogged to complete the jigsaw; let's hope that memories do not now create data that fits the speculative picture you have drawn. This was far from Panorama at its best that cloud rather than clarify the case against the criminals.

I thought the Panorama programme on the Omagh bomb suspects was very powerful and very justified under the circumstances. It showed up the alleged suspects for what they are. Well done to all those involved.
Dr Frank Brennan

I was in Northern Ireland on the day of the bombing and was all too aware of the unfolding tragedy. As such, I was keen to watch the programme last night. Unfortunately, I found it to be one of the weakest Panorama editions I have watched. Whilst I am sure that John Ware conducted a strong investigation, the resultant facts are largely only a corroboration of previous reportage on the subject. I can recall reading about the likely numbers of people involved either directly or indirectly, where they came from, what they did, the tracking of mobile calls from South Armagh up to Omagh and the coded warnings. The most poignant aspect was, as ever, the personal accounts. The only new information which my attention was drawn to by the programme was the code used, the details of the phone boxes used and their investigation and finally the names of key personalities. The former items are incidental but sensationalist. They did not truly help to inform debate and, indeed, will probably only serve to give a wide distribution to information that should not be in the public's purview. How many more false coded warnings will we see on the back of this?

The history of prosecution in terrorist cases amply shows that anything prejudicial against the fair hearing of the case is likely to bring about its failure

Andrew Gough, Basingstoke
How many criminals will now be adding another item to their check off list for the conduct of a successful operation? Cases against people who do this sort of thing are made because of careless errors and you have only helped to lessen the chance that they will be made again. This leaves names as the final area of new factual knowledge in the public domain. Whilst a long debate can be crafted around this, I believe that the history of prosecution in terrorist cases amply shows that anything prejudicial against the fair hearing of the case is likely to bring about its failure. I appreciate and agree that there is the chance that something said in relation to these names yesterday may jog a memory or embolden a witness. However, the end result of your action is that the case against the majority of those most directly attributable for enabling the bombing may be fatally flawed. More than that, I personally feel that great weight should have also been given to the confusion caused by the coded warnings. Every discussion on this directly attributes to the high death toll to the fact that the public were not successfully cleared from the area. Clear, accurate warnings in the past have allowed the 'spectacular' to take place without such a toll in innocent lives. This programme could have been screened as some kind of special. It could have kept the human dimension, it could have drawn together 'all that is known' about the atrocity, as with Crimewatch UK it could have served to have jog memories. What the programme was not though was a piece of groundbreaking research and the last thing it truly needed to do was name names. Was the edition, as screened, truly in the public interest or did it really serve only to satisfy the public interest in the sensational? There was a reason for so much condemnation.
Andrew Gough

Your excellent programme ended with the comment that this act would be on the conscience of the guilty for the rest of their lives. Not so. The thing that drives these people is not the politics of the region, or religion, it is simply the enjoyment of violence. 'The troubles' only provide the outlet. The hard core who continue to deliver violence to the rest of their community will always find some excuse to behave the way they do. It is sad reflection on mankind in general, and the activist of all breeds in Northern Ireland. You only have to look at Serbia/Kosovo at one extreme and England football matches at the other to begin to realise that a lot of people simply enjoy being violent towards others.
Stuart Jones

The BBC and Panorama are to be applauded for having the courage to investigate and present to the public the information shown

Andy Eakin, New Zealand
I have just watched the internet version of Panorama and I was moved to tears as a result. The BBC and Panorama are to be applauded for having the courage to investigate and present to the public the information shown. My only hope is that it encourages those who, perhaps unwittingly, have information that would assist the police, to come forward. The lives of the people of Omagh will never be the same again, but a conviction against those who were responsible will go some way to restoring the justice that was denied Omagh and its people in August 1998.
Andy Eakin
Auckland, New Zealand (formerly of Omagh)

Congratulations on an excellent programme! Unfortunately the people of Northern Ireland have suffered for over 30 years at the hands of these thugs. No wonder Ahern didn't like it! He has been exposed as the harbourer of these vile people who have the tacit support of the people of Southern Ireland. Blair must stop conceding to this violence and demand disarmament.
Paul Nelson

Congratulations to all the Panorama team for an excellent programme. My sympathy to the victims and their relations.
Michael Smith

Interesting programme but too much suggestion and little evidence.
Andy Booth

I was gripped by the programme which acted as both a memorial to the victims, and the bereaved, and especially as a conscience pricker to the authorities and governments to try and bring those responsible to justice. However, as one who works in the justice system, I do recognise the naivety of some of the methods used by the reporter, and the gap between circumstantial and real evidence.
Paul Smith
Welwyn Garden City

The Omagh bombing like Dublin, Monaghan, Enniskillen and Warrington before it, was indeed a reckless act showing total disregard for human life, that could serve no political purpose. This is a fact that most reasonable people have already accepted. While highlighting the pain of the victims is important, I was hoping that this programme might offer new facts on the case rather than focusing on the already widely known details of the bombing itself. However the facts presented were sparse and circumstantial. With phrases like "Could this have been?", "Someone", "This fits with(our pattern)" all betraying the fact that ultimately this programme had nothing more to offer than the rumours which has been whispered about the same individuals for the last two years. "Reconstruction's" are no substitute for evidence. So as a factual effort this programme was poor journalism, as a reminder of the carnage bombing can cause it was potent indeed.

Brilliant programme, John Ware showed real courage. He took a real risk and showed what real journalism should be about. Andrew Hunter is an ill informed **** looking for cheap points against the BBC. Further he knows that there is political reluctance to get the 15 involved in the bombing. The Garda have told Ahern that they have enough information to attack, but Ahern has slowed down the Irish legal process at the DDP level, because of political pressure. Keep right on. This is what television is for.

Very bold programme-making.

It's a shame that those who were approached didn't seem to be able to articulate any reasoned explanations or denials

Jeremy Mason, London
It left me feeling sickened that the people who committed this are still allowed to go about their daily lives, having shattered those of so many innocent others. It's a shame that those who were approached didn't seem to be able to articulate any reasoned explanations or denials. If your programme leads to any shift in this direction, then you are to be commended for an excellent piece of journalism, that was clearly in the public interest. Keep up the good work.
Jeremy Mason

Tonight I swore to myself not to watch tonight's programme, but then changed my mind. I cried when the Omagh bomb happened two years ago and tonight I cried again. I know that the official records say that 29 people died that day, but in fact it was 32. No-one counts the unborn twins or the man who was killed by an ambulance carrying injured to Belfast. Your reporter was and is very brave in reporting, I only hope that some of the family members and friends will be brave enough to give evidence that the police need to put them behind bars. Deep in my heart I fear that the people who can help the police won't as they fear for their lives, but can they live with fact that another Omagh may happen again? The " ", and you may fill in the blank, will never be caught. They have too much power and the fear that they instil will keep witnesses away from the police and the courts. My heart goes out to the victims families and I hope and pray someone will be brave enough to help justice be done. Congratulations to John Ware for his courage in doing this naming programme. I just hope that it will help bring the killers to court before they strike again, and they will when they think the time is right. I HOPE and PRAY that someone will be as brave as your reporter and help the police, and allow the victims, both alive and at rest, the JUSTICE the deserve.

Tonight's show was a disgrace to public service broadcasting. It was the worst kind of McCarthyism. Effectively Panorama has set people up for assassination at the whim of incompetent police officers. The RUC and Garda should do their jobs and prosecute this case like regular police forces. If they have any real evidence they should prosecute the suspects and let the courts decide.
Jim Caine

At last some people have been confronted. However they speak through solicitors...what have they to hide from if they were not involved?

An excellent programme and commendable bravery on the part of your reporter on this topic. Alas, the murderers (as that is what terrorists are) may never be brought to justice as such arrests may be seen to damage the "Peace process". Even if they were caught, the government would probably let them out again as "political prisoners". I feel for the victims families, the RUC in their attempts to right the wrongs whilst being undermined by Westminster and the decent people of Northern Ireland who have to endure these cowardly acts of terror.
Ed Lewis

At the risk of sounding cynical in the face of such an act of sickening horror, I was perturbed by tonight's programme. We all want the bombers caught and punished, but I worry that this programme may have done that cause more harm than good. If the men named in the film are brought to trial, they are bound to argue that the programme has prejudiced any chance of a fair hearing, and, given other precedents, could very well go free - even if they are guilty. Wouldn't it have been better to wait until the authorities could bring the case to court, no matter how long it took, than to try to force their hand by this rash piece of Roger Cook expose journalism? Is this more a case of the BBC trying to justify Panorama's continued existence?
P.T. Hearne

I believe it is time for a renewed public appeal for witnesses

Barry Woods, Omagh
I would like to thank the makers of the programme for making a very positive step along the road to justice for the people of Omagh, and in particular for those who tragically lost loved ones in the atrocity of August 1998. For so long, it has seemed nothing had been done, little evidence of police investigations, arrests or new evidence coming to light has been available. I believe it is time for a renewed public appeal for witnesses as I believe too long has passed already. The show broadcast tonight was inciteful, shocking and I believe extremely useful in its investigations. I credit the bravery and dedication of the reporter, and indeed the editorial team. More programmes should follow the ground-breaking mould of Panorama, though I believe few will ever equal it.
Barry Woods

Thank you Panorama for bringing this programme to us tonight, and the very brave John Ware for making it possible. Perhaps now the people affected by that cowardly murderous act have a glimmer of light, that will eventually get them the justice that they so rightly deserve. My heart goes out to them. God Bless them All

The programme wasn't particularly impressive. The evidence it produced was thin, disguised by some impressive packaging. I'm disappointed the BBC didn't listen to the Omagh survivors and relatives who wanted the programme stopped. Surely the risk, any risk, of compromising the outcome of any future trial outweighs the limited advantages of showing such a programme? The appeal to the conscience of the bombers at the end filled me with despair. The vermin who did this have no conscience, otherwise they would never have carried out the attack in the first place.

Congratulations on an excellent programme - let us hope and pray that justice will prevail.
New York

Well done to the BBC for having the guts to confront the men who appear unable to account for their movements on the day of the Omagh bomb. It is unlikely however, that any of these men will face trial when politicians (namely those in Sinn Fein) refuse to assist the police in helping to catch the cowards that committed this atrocity.
Alan Athey

Excellent & courageous reporting by John Ware. But if the programme does encourage witnesses to come forward so that the 'murderers' can be brought to trial - what is the point? Won't they be eligible for release soon afterwards under the 'Good Friday' agreement?

I watched your programme with interest and all I could see in it was a load of coincidences and here-say. The people you said were involved DO NOT have to answer questions on any matter put to them by a member of the BBC or public. You said in the programme that the individuals were questioned by the police and were released WITHOUT CHARGE. I do feel sorry for the victims of the Omagh bomb.

Great journalism. All through the Troubles, we lived through horrific bombings and other atrocities (from all sides) and in most cases people never found out who really was responsible. Omagh is the worst and most awful act of many. When the depth of the atrocity demands a reckoning and the legal system cannot reveal the truth, I applaud the courage of the journalists who insist on telling it anyway. People have to know the evil that lives among them. They shouldn't be allowed to close their eyes to the truth. This programme makes it harder to do that.
Dominic Gates
Seattle, USA (formerly of Dungannon, Co. Tyrone)

While I admire the tenacity and courage of the Panorama team for putting this programme together, I do question the purpose. Over the last 30 or so years there have been endless articles and films that have sought to name those guilty of atrocities in NI, yet none of them appear to have done any good (I think specifically of various Sunday Times Insight investigations and the infamous Cook Report on Martin McGuinness). There is a difference between seeking to further public understanding (seen in Peter Taylor's trilogy) and showboating for the purposes of dramatic journalism. Where does this programme lie between the two?
Donald Shelley

Surely there can be no hiding place left now for the evil men who bombed Omagh? Full credit to John Ware and his team - an excellent programme.
Sharon McLeer

The most interesting Panorama since the expose on New Labour's tactics re candidates in the Scottish in the Scottish, Welsh and London elections. And is Owen Lunney, the laddie of that name who was at school with me in Paisley 30 years ago?
Anne Harvey
Adderbury, Oxon

A harrowing and moving programme but did it attempt to circumvent due process? What is the difference between this sort of programme and the 'outing' of paedophiles, a precedent that was seen as dangerous?

A very powerful piece of work.
James Casey

I wish to congratulate you on your coverage of the Omagh Bombing. If it can only encourage one person to provide some little piece of information, then we will be step closer to finding the monsters who wrecked the lives of so many people.

My heart goes out to the victims and their families. The bombers cannnot escape the karmic consequences of their actions. Cosmic law will ensure that they suffer in exact measure to the suffering they have caused.
James Milton

Despite initial concerns, I am satisfied that the courts know best when they say that this programme will not jeopardise the trial. I hope that it will act as the decisive push for those who have still not come forward with the key evidence with which to secure convictions against those who killed so many in my home town. I, like thousands of others, have been waiting over 2 years for the trial which is already long overdue.
Newtownabbey (ex-Omagh)

I am so pleased that you went to air with tonight's programme. My heart goes out to the brave families of the victims - I pray I shall never have to experience the grief that unthinking bigots have forced upon them. I have lived in an environment where the conspiracy of fear and silence allow evil men to do what they will without ever feeling a fraction of the fear they inflict on others.
Kit McCaughey
Newcastle upon Tyne

I have no sympathy for any terrorist, and hope that they are brought to justice. It is interesting, though, that even the BBC should accuse people of 'not explaining their actions' or 'failing to answer detailed questions'. They don't have to in our legal system: it's up to the prosecution to prove them guilty.
Jim Strother

Your Omagh Bomb coverage needed to be shown

Alwyn, Strabane
Well done, your Omagh Bomb coverage needed to be shown. My family were lucky, they came home from Omagh that day. They were closer to the bomb than some of the poor people that died, but somehow managed to escape with minor cuts. The horror will live with them for the rest of their lives. Your coverage tonight was just what was needed to have these evil monsters caught and given a proper jail sentence.

Whilst I congratulate Panorama for doing what was necessary to achieve any kind of justice, do the programme makers feel that the lives of the accused now count in minutes or hours? I feel concerned that someone who is innocent or just has the same name could be the victim of a lynch mob.

Quite the most harrowing programme for years. God bless all the victims families for their immense bravery. We owe it to them to hunt these scum down like the vermin they are.
M Martin

Well done Panorama, for an excellent programme on this atrocity. With a bit of luck this might force the "powers-that-be" to DO SOMETHING. I had almost given up on the BBC. At least someone can help keep them afloat. Keep up the good work.
Roger Stevenson
Bognor Regis

I would like to applaud the BBC and Panorama for the making and courage of showing the programme tonight about the Omagh bomb. Until the Irish people decide that these monsters are not the freedom fighters they try to depict themselves as, but murderers pure and simple there will be no end to these kinds of monstrous acts. Why not publish the names of the people who may have information relating to this bomb. The community has a right to know who they are. I am not advocating vigilante action but pressure must be brought to bare to make the truth be know. Being of Irish decent, I am ashamed of my ancestry and am of the view that the community must act and turn these people in. They know who they are, they are their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers and brothers. Publish the names.
Owen Lunney

Very honest programme, well reported. I hope they catch these cowards
Keith Wales

Brilliant programme - Well done - perhaps your researchers and presenters should get jobs with the RUC and Garda Siochanna?

Well done to all concerned. Public service broadcasting at its finest. If those named had no part in Omagh why did they not come forward and say so directly? Why hide?
Sean O Briain

Congratulations on your programme, and especially John Ware for possessing the courage.... I fully support everything that was mentioned in the programme.
Carolyn Hartley

Well done!!!!!! for having the courage that nobody else did for naming these cowards. Let's hope that the governments move to arrest these animals. Once again Panorama, well done
Derek Paterson

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