The US government is to consider the possibility of blocking access to the website of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement following a meeting with relatives of the 1998 Omagh bomb.
US consul general Dean Pittman gave the assurance that it would look into censoring the 32csm.org website, which is supportive of the breakaway ‘Real IRA’.
Because the site is based in Canada, it is thought First Amendment rights to free speech might not apply. However, the operator of the site has expressed confidence that the information would continue to be accessible.
Michael Gallagher said the website was “broadcasting into the US”.
“We are asking the US government to talk to their Canadian cousins and say that this website is contrary to the current climate of putting pressure on terrorists,” he said.
The Real IRA carried out the controversial Omagh bomb, which killed 29 civilians after a telephone warning failed to clear the area around the device.
32 County Sovereignty Movement spokesman Andy Martin rejected criticism of the site.
“Victor Barker tried to have the site shut down earlier this year and it didn’t work,” he said.
“The 32 County Sovereignty Movement is legal in Ireland, Britain, Europe and everywhere else in the world except in America.
“The truth of the matter is that only the website’s server is based in Canada so it would not matter even if it was shut down.”
Meanwhile, politicians have called for greater internet policing or censorship after teenagers in County Antrim used the popular website bebo.com to express their anger over the recent sectarian murder of one of their number.
Allegations and threats had been made on the website, which was described as “under investigation” by Irish television broadcaster RTE.
Billy Leonard, Sinn Féin councillor on nearby Coleraine Borough Council criticised the openness of the chat-room for the Ballymena area.
“This is a worrying development,” he said, “these are deep rooted sectarian tensions and it is incumbent on civic leaders to lead and cut across the cul-de-sac arguments and speak clearly against sectarianism on all levels.”
The PSNI police said they were monitoring the site as a source of for possible information on the murder.