Northern Ireland news

Martin O'Hagan: Vigil for murdered journalist on 20th anniversary of his killing

Martin O'Hagan with the NUJ banner on May Day in Belfast 2001. Picture by Kevin Cooper/Photoline NUJ

MURDERED Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan will be remembered at a protest vigil tomorrow on the 20th anniversary of his killing.

Protesters will gather outside the Police Ombudsman’s Office in Writers’ Square, Belfast, at 11am to highlight the failure to bring Mr O'Hagan's killers to justice.

The journalist was murdered by the LVF while returning to his home in Lurgan with his wife Marie on September 28, 2001.

No one has ever been convicted of the 51-year-old's murder - the only journalist killed during the Troubles.

The PSNI has told the NUJ's Belfast and District branch that a "full review" of the case will be conducted "as soon as possible".

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, reiterated calls for an independent inquiry into the murder.

"The failure of the authorities to properly investigate the brutal murder of Martin O’Hagan is a stain on the history of policing in Northern Ireland," she said.

"The passage of time does not obliterate the need for an independent investigation drawn from outside the UK to investigate the murder and the subsequent police failings.

"Martin was killed because he, as a dogged, determined investigative journalist, knew too much.

Journalist Martin O'Hagan was shot dead in Lurgan on September 28, 2001

"The widespread belief that those who murdered Martin were informers or linked to informers and thus protected is sadly not a far-fetched theory."

A new banner showing Mr O'Hagan carrying the NUJ banner several months before he was killed will also be unveiled tomorrow.

Richard Sullivan, northern editor of the Sunday World, will attend the vigil along with Alan McBride from victims' group WAVE and Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International.

Justice minister Naomi Long recently told the NUJ's Belfast and District branch she appreciated the union's "desire to see justice in this case".

"It is a mark of any democratic society that we have a free press and that journalists should be free from violence and intimidation," she wrote.

"The murder of Martin O’Hagan was a heinous act and my thoughts are with his loved ones as the anniversary of his killing approaches."

The Irish secretary and assistant general secretary of the NUJ, Séamus Dooley, said the union's thoughts are with Mr O'Hagan's family, friends and colleagues on the anniversary of his killing.

"We lost not just a fearless journalist but a dedicated husband, father, brother, a trade union activist, a man of courage and integrity," he said.

"As journalism comes under renewed attack we need a genuinely independent investigation and the NUJ will continue our campaign."

Journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead while observing a riot in Derry in April 2019.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty, said Northern Ireland is still the most dangerous place in the UK to be a journalist.

"Reporters here continue to work in a climate of fear amidst regular death threats from the very sort of armed groups responsible for Martin O'Hagan's murder 20 years ago," he said.

"Journalists everywhere deserve the protection of the societies which they serve. Tragically, that has not happened in this case. It is time for a new investigation."

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