BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: UK: Northern Ireland
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 10 October, 2000, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Named Omagh 'suspect' in court
One of the four men named by the BBC as a suspect in the Omagh bombing case has appeared before a special court in Dublin.

Liam Campbell, 38, from Upper Faughart near Dundalk in County Louth, was arrested last week by Irish Police as part of an ongoing investigation into dissident republican activity.

The arrest was unrelated to the Panorama programme which was shown on Monday night.

Mr Campbell was remanded in custody charged with membership of an illegal organisation.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson earlier praised the Panorama programme.

They (the relatives) and many others hope that the transmission of this programme will help bring to justice those responsible

BBC spokesman
It said the suspects had questions to answer about the use of mobile telephones in the Omagh area, in the hours leading up to the bombing.

Mr Mandelson said he had watched the programme and thought it had been "a very powerful and very professional piece of work".

He said that above all, it had never never lost sight of "the people who should be most in our thoughts today, that is the victims and their families".

'Public interest'

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern criticised the BBC for naming the men.

He said that "bandying around names on television" could hinder attempts to secure convictions.

The BBC said it believed the programme was in the public interest and would encourage witnesses to come forward with evidence.

The explosion in Omagh, on 15 August 1998, killed 29 people and sparked a police operation on an unprecedented scale which has, so far, failed to convict any of the members of the dissident Real IRA believed to be responsible.

A man is awaiting trial in the Republic of Ireland accused of conspiring to cause the explosion.

Bertie Ahern: Critical of programme
Some of the victims' families welcomed the Panorama investigation into the worst bombing atrocity in the Irish troubles and hoped it would jog someone's memory or conscience.

One relative - Michael Gallagher, who lost his son in the attack - said that if it jogged someone's memory or conscience, then "it will have done a good job".

First Minister David Trimble said he had "very grave doubts about the wisdom" of the programme.

"I would like to think the programme-makers were after something other than sensationalism," he said.

A BBC spokesman said many of the victims' relatives had wanted the programme to be shown on television.

"They and many others hope that the transmission of this programme will help bring to justice those responsible for the Omagh atrocity," he said.

Last minute legal challenges by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and a relative of one of the victims failed to stop the broadcast going ahead.

Telephone records

The Panorama investigation, which lasted several months, said it had uncovered documentary evidence and secretly filmed men suspected to have been involved in the bombing.

BBC reporter John Ware confronted four men and asked them to account for their movements on the days before and after the explosion.

The programme's evidence hinged on calls made on mobile phones the men are alleged to have owned, used or borrowed.

Police believe the stolen car used in the bombing was driven across the border to Omagh on 15 August behind a scout car which checked the route for police and soldiers.

The drivers are thought to have communicated by mobile phone.

The movements of two mobile phones have been tracked north from the Irish Republic to Omagh and back again at a time consistent with the bombing and along a route the bomb car could have taken.

Dissident links

One of the phones belonged to a publican identified by Panorama as a seasoned terrorist who has smuggled guns for the Provisional IRA and is opposed to the ceasefire.

He is said to have told police he did know the mobiles were to be used in the operation.
Omagh town centre after the explosion
Omagh town centre after the explosion

Another man, believed to have had one of the phones, is said to be an officer of the Real IRA which is also opposed to the peace process and IRA ceasefire.

A third man is believed to be linked to the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, the political wing of the Real IRA.

Some of the men, including a fourth man named in the programme, have been questioned by the Irish police but have either denied involvement in the bombing or refused to speak.

The BBC's Dennis Murray
"The overwhelming feeling among the families is for justice"
John Woods, Dundalk solicitor
"I think the programme was done in a very sensitive way"
Panorama journalist, John Ware
"A conspiracy of silence"

The Troubles
Understanding Northern Ireland
See also:

10 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Mobile phones key to Omagh probe
10 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Mixed reaction to broadcast
03 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Real IRA 'fully to blame' for Omagh
02 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Police 'know' identities of bombers
27 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
'Examine reaction to bomb warnings' - QC
22 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Death of toddler in bomb recalled
19 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
'Never again' plead Omagh family
11 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Constable describes Omagh scene
08 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh coroner rejects evidence call
07 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh inquest focuses on warnings
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Northern Ireland stories