My Greatest Mistake

John Ware Reporter for 'Panorama'
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The Independent Online

During the making of the Panorama programme about Omagh, I found myself looking for a Real IRA suspect called Seamus Daly, who, we were alleging, organised the bombing. He was a real rough, tough country boy, living in bandit country just south of the border, in a little hamlet.

We'd been trying to get pictures of him, and it was proving difficult. Every time we followed him, we lost him. Eventually, we found him going down a long dirt track in the middle of nowhere. We were told by police sources that he was living in an old house at the end of the track, where his brother was operating a quarry.

Then, I did something I probably shouldn't have done. A brave Irish freelancer and I decided to walk across at night, to see if the lights were on. If he was in, the plan was to go and hit him with cameras in the morning.

We started walking across these fields in absolute pitch blackness, which was scary. After half a mile, we walked past a farmhouse. A farmer came out and asked, "What the hell are you doing?" I was absolutely terrified, and I knew that as soon as I opened my mouth... well, I didn't know what would happen.

My Irish colleague, quick as a flash, said, "You know, we're very close. We're together." And he put his arm around me. The reactionary old farmer said: "Oh, just fuck off," and waved us away. The ruse was so credible, it saved our lives, I'm sure. We didn't ever get down to the house.

It was a very freaky walk across those fields in the dark, and in hindsight it was completely mad.