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Martin O’Hagan murder 10 years on: still no justice

By Dominic Ponsford

Ten years after the murder by paramilitaries of Northern Irish journalist Martin O’Hagan, Sunday World colleagues are sceptical about whether his killers will ever face justice.

O’Hagan was shot dead as he walked home from an evening out with his wife in Lurgan, Co Armagh, in September 2001. He was the first journalist killed by paramilitaries since the Northern Ireland Troubles erupted in 1969 and was murdered after exposing the actions of Loyalist gangsters.

The Sunday World has previously named the six-person Ulster Volunteer Force paramilitary team suspected of involvement in O’Hagan’s murder. One individual is currently facing charges as a result of the murder but they cannot by named for legal reasons.

A Sunday World insider told Press Gazette: ‘It’s been 10 years. The police and media knew who did it within weeks of the murder. It took almost eight years for anyone to be charged and 10 years later only one remains charged and we are not allowed to name him.

‘There is a great deal of disillusionment in the ability of the authorities to pursue this case. There is always the suspicion that the killers have in the past been acting as police informants or military intelligence agents.

‘That’s usually the explanation for people not being charged and cases being dropped.

‘We are not under any illusion that we are going to get justice for Martin O’Hagan. That won’t stop people demanding it though.”

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The Guardian today reported that the Sunday World has received 50 death threats in recent years.

Press Gazette’s source at the paper, who asked not to be named, said such threats have become commonplace.

Journalists on the paper – which has editions for Northern Ireland and the Republic – continue to regularly expose the activities of Loyalist and Republican paramilitary groups, gangsters and drug dealers.

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