Anger at 'Panorama' screening

Programme may hinder justice, says Ahern
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The Independent Online

The Irish government, Sinn Fein and the Tories lined up to criticise the BBC for broadcasting last night's Panorama programme, which named four people suspected of being involved in the Omagh bombing which killed 29 people.

The Irish government, Sinn Fein and the Tories lined up to criticise the BBC for broadcasting last night's Panorama programme, which named four people suspected of being involved in the Omagh bombing which killed 29 people.

The Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said the BBC may have hindered justice: "Bandying around names on television programmes won't help the victims. In actual fact the legal people say it could well hinder them," he said.

Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, was also critical of the programme: "I am against the naming of people involved for all sorts of reasons. Not least because those who were involved in the killings on Bloody Sunday are remaining anonymous in the courts.

The Tories also joined in. Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Andrew MacKay said the BBC had been grossly irresponsible. Chances of a successful conviction would be much reduced by naming the terrorists.

The BBC said: "The programme has been made with great care. Many of the victims' relatives clearly wanted the programme to be broadcast, including those who took part in the programme.

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

Two of the four men named are already facing terrorist charges.

Some of the victims' families backed the programme which went ahead after a High Court ruling against legal bids to block it, one by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. The other was by Lawrence Rush whose wife Libbi was among the 29 people murdered in the car bomb explosion.

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