Catch Martin’s killers, whoever they are
The murder of journalist Martin O'Hagan must be kept
in the public eye, not just to bring his killers to justice but to
protect other journalists working in Northern Ireland, NUJ member
Kevin Cooper told a meeting organised by Reporters without Borders
(RSF-UK) at NUJ headquarters on 14 March. "We are not special, but
journalism is special," he said.
Martin O'Hagan was the first journalist killed in Northern Ireland for
doing their job since the Troubles began. "Unless you have a free and open
press, then democratic institutions are damaged. Therefore it is in the public
interest that we shout and campaign about it." The danger was that once
paramilitaries have crossed the line of killing one journalist, they would
find it easier to kill again. Currently three journalists were under
threat in Northern Ireland.
Maggie Beirne of the Northern Ireland human rights campaign CAJ (Committee
on the Administration of Justice) said the organisation had opened a file on
Martin O'Hagan and was following the police investigation closely. It was
crucial to keep "hammering away" so that the pressure was on the police to
get results. CAJ had been surprised at the much lower press profile given to
the killing of Martin O'Hagan than of Dublin based crime reporter Veronica
While the meeting heard about rumours that the investigation was
going slow because one of those involved in the killings may be an informer,
Kevin Cooper warned against feeding the rumour mill. If anyone had
information they should give it to the police, subject to the Code of
Conduct with particular reference to protecting journalistic sources, as
well as talking to CAJ.
RSF has recently secured European funding to employ international lawyers in
cases where murders of journalists have gone unpunished. Veronica Forwood of
RSF-UK said the Damocles project had already taken up the case of Ukrainian
Georgy Gongadze and might look at Martin O'Hagan's murder if the police
investigation got nowhere.
- A meeting has been arranged for April 9 with Northern Ireland Security
Minister Jane Kennedy to discuss progress of the investigation and the
threats to other NUJ members.