Article submitted to NUJ Belfast Branch newsletter

Who Murdered Martin O'Hagan and why?

One year on, is anyone looking for the answers? Saturday 28 September 2002 will be the anniversary of the murder of Martin O'Hagan - yet no one has been brought to book. Few if any questions have been answered .

[Martin O'Hagan]

Martin O'Hagan on the Belfast May Day rally in 2001(Kevin Cooper)

He was not the first journalist to be killed in the 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland but he was the first journalist to be targeted and killed for his work.

He continues to be remembered and missed by his colleagues and friends of the Belfast and District Branch of the NUJ. We miss his good humour , his love of mischief, his tireless commitment to socialism and trade unionism. He was no saint; he was, like the rest of us, human and made mistakes. He could infuriate and delight you at the same time. He was not always treated with the respect and dignity he deserved.

But I for one continue to be proud to have known him. He was fearless and determined as a journalist. He refused to be silenced doing stories that others feared to touch.

It is important that we clearly lay the blame for Martin's murder at the door of the LVF murder team that carried it out. It is also important to look at possible motives, the political climate and the type of story that Martin had worked on and was working on at the time of his murder to understand some of the concerns of his close colleagues.

The following is a list of questions, which I and others believe need to be addressed:

  1. If this murder inquiry is considered to be a priority by the PSNI why have there been no arrests to date?
  2. What if anything is the Sunday World management doing to bring pressure to bear to ensure a successful investigation by the PSNI?
  3. Was any one aware of threats to Martin O'Hagan prior to his murder and if so who and was that information passed on to him?
  4. Is there any connection between the libel case in London and his murder?
  5. Was there any connection between collusion stories, which Martin O'Hagan was working on and his murder?
  6. Why have there been so few stories or follow-up investigations in the British and Irish media particularly from outside Northern Ireland?
  7. Are any of the suspects in his murder currently or formerly police or security force informers or intelligence agents?
  8. Why is the murder of Martin O'Hagan being treated so differently from the murder of Veronica Guerin?
  9. What has happened to Martin's journalistic material, which was seized at the time of his murder?

As Chair of the Belfast and District Branch I call upon any NUJ members with information - regardless of how insignificant they may think it is - to come forward and help the police with their investigation.

Please help to uncover the truth. Ask yourself what can you do as a journalist and/or a NUJ member to ensure he is remembered and that his story is told.

Kevin Cooper

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