NUJ press statement

3 December 2002

NUJ welcomes assurances on O’Hagan murder investigation

Call for increased resources to be allocated

The NUJ today welcomed the commitment by Northern Ireland Office Security Minister Jane Kennedy MP that the investigation into the murder of Martin O'Hagan was "very live" and that she would ask for a review of resources. She told the NUJ delegation at the meeting in Stormont that "I too want to see the people who carried this out brought swiftly to justice".

The NUJ sought the meeting because of growing concern that little progress appeared to have been made in the investigation to date and that threats against journalists had reportedly increased in recent months.

The delegation led by General Secretary Jeremy Dear and Irish Secretary Eoin Ronayne asked for information on the progress of the investigation to date and raised concerns that it might be hindered by wider security considerations such as the protection of police sources. The union also pressed for journalists at risk to be allowed access to the NIO's Key Person Protection Scheme should they seek it and for information on the level of threats to other journalists.

Commenting after the meeting General Secretary Jeremy Dear said the Minister had addressed some of the union's concerns about the investigation and added that the union would be pressing for further action by the PSNI. He welcomed the Ministers suggestion that the union should meet with the Chief Constable to further address these concerns and to seek his assessment of the level of threat to journalists. "If action is not taken to ensure the security of individual journalists at risk and the wider general threat to journalists" he warned, "there is a real danger of self censorship undermining the media's critical role in keeping the public informed".

Irish Secretary Eoin Ronayne said the meeting was just the opening move in a campaign to support investigative journalism and individual journalists under threat. He said he would be seeking a follow up meeting with the Chief Constable without delay and added that the union was determined that the murder of Martin O'Hagan would not stop journalists from doing their work.

The delegation which also included NEC Northern Ireland member Brendan Wright, Belfast & District Branch, Chair Kevin Cooper and Northern Ireland Broadcasting Branch Chair, Michael Fisher gave the Minister a summary of statements and media comments for a variety of organisations including the International Federation of Journalists.

For comment contact Jeremy Dear, General Secretary or Séamus Dooley, the new Irish Secretary

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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