The announcement by the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland that there will be no prosecution in the case of the killing of NUJ member and former Belfast Branch Secretary Martin O’Hagan is extremely disappointing and has been criticised by the union. I can understand the reaction of his family. His brother Fintan, quoted by BBC NI, said there was a witness who wanted to tell a court who killed Martin, yet the Public Prosecution Service was depriving that witness the opportunity of telling the court his account and further depriving the court of the opportunity to consider the truthfulness or otherwise of that evidence and depriving the family, and indeed the public, of the opportunity to see justice in action. “Justice needs not just to be done, it needs to be seen to be done”, he added.
He was responding to the statement by DPP Barra McGrory that after very careful consideration of all the available evidence, including that of an assisting offender, Neil Hyde, a decision had been taken not to prosecute in the murder case. This was owing to the absence of any corroboration of the evidence. When Hyde was jailed in February 2012 for three years, the judge told him that if he had not agreed to identify the alleged culprits in Mr O’Hagan’s murder and give evidence about the activities of the outlawed LVF, he would have been jailed for 18 years. Mr O’Hagan, a Sunday World journalist, was shot dead as he was walking home with his wife in Lurgan in 2001.
Sunday World Northern Editor Jim McDowell said he was angry and annoyed at Friday’s announcement. “Myself and the staff have worked hard since that black Friday in September 2001 to try to get justice for Martin O’Hagan. It now seems, that old adage, while there there may be law in this country, where is the justice?” He said the decision would not diminish in any way the paper’s resolve to continue to try to get justice for Martin.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has expressed grave disappointment at the announcement by the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland that a decision has been taken not to prosecute in the Martin O’Hagan murder case. Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley said the union was disturbed by the announcement. “This union does not accept that the State can walk away from this case. The murder of Martin O’Hagan was an outrageous act of violence which cannot go unpunished. We will continue to campaign for a full investigation leading to the conviction of those responsible for the murder of our friend and colleague“, he said.