27 September 2002

O'Hagan killers must be brought to justice

The General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists has said that the union is gravely concerned that the murderers of Martin O'Hagan remain at large 12 months after the Sunday World journalist was gunned down near his home in Lurgan.

In a statement to mark the first anniversary of the death, which occurs on Saturday, September 28th, Jeremy Dear said the murder of Martin O'Hagan was a direct attack on the freedom of the press and struck at the very heart of democracy.

Mr Dear added:

It is to the credit of our members in Northern Ireland that they have not been intimidated by the actions of those who killed Martin O'Hagan. Over the past year we have been pushing for stronger protections for journalists, we have urged employers to take measures to improve security for workers and we have given practical advice to our members on the ground. Our members continue to tell their stories, to carry on the tradition of a great investigative journalist but they now do in changed and difficult circumstances.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland last week assured the NUJ that the investigation into the killing of Martin O'Hagan remains active. We welcome that assurance, because our members demand that those who killed Martin are brought to justice. This union will not allow the murder of Martin O'Hagan to become just another unsolved case.

Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley, who led the delegation at last week's meeting with the PSNI, said the union accepts that the investigation team has had real difficulties in gathering sufficient evidence to secure convictions.

He added: "We welcome the public appeals for co-operation with this investigation and hope that those who may have any information will come forward to assist the PSNI." He said journalists who feel they may be able to assist in the murder investigation should contact the PSNI directly or through the NUJ.

Mr Dooley added: "Journalists who feel they might be able to assist in the investigation may contact the NUJ in either Dublin (+ 353 1 8053258) or London (+ 44 20 7843 3700). Investigative journalists in Northern Ireland, in particular, may be of assistance.

The Cathaoirleach (Chair) of the Irish Executive Council Mary Maher said that NUJ members everywhere were conscious of the great loss suffered by the O'Hagan family. In deference to the desire of the family for privacy the NUJ has not organised public events to mark the anniversary of Martin's murder, she explained, but members everywhere would be privately reflecting on his murder and remembering with affection a loyal and courageous friend and colleague.

Further contacts:

  • Jeremy Dear, General Secretary, NUJ, Headland House, 308/312 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP + 44 20 7843 3709
  • Seamus Dooley, Irish Secretary, NUJ, 9th Floor, Liberty Hall, Dublin 1 - + 353 1 805 3258
Martin O'Hagan, killed on 28 September 2001
Martin O'Hagan attending the trade union event to mark May Day 2001. Photo © 2001 Kevin Cooper
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