Collusion link to journalist's killing
BY LAURA FRIEL
Journalist Martin O'Hagan was set to expose an RUC Special Branch officer's collusion with a notorious loyalist killer when he was shot dead in Lurgan in September.
The Sunday World journalist was researching material for a book on Portadown UVF gunman Robin Jackson, known as 'The Jackal'. Jackson, who died of cancer in the mid 1990s, has been linked to numerous murders of Catholics in the Mid Ulster area.
While researching his latest book, O'Hagan discovered evidence that suggested two senior RUC officers and a prominent Orangeman had supplied loyalist LVF leader Billy Wright with false alibis in relation to three separate incidents. According to the information unearthed by O'Hagan, the RUC supplied a cover story for Wright in connection with the UVF shooting of four men in Cappagh County Tyrone in March 1991.
alibi was also provided to cover Wright's involvement in the 1994 killing of pensioner Rose Anne Mallon in Dungannon and after an attempted assassination of former Sinn FŽin Councillor Brendan Curran in March 1990.
Collusion has always been suspected in these controversial killings. As an isolated nationalist village, Cappagh was an unlikely place for a loyalist attack without Crown force collusion. A surveillance camera trained onto Rose Anne Mallon's home was found in a hedge by her family just days after she was shot dead.
One of the RUC officers involved in the cover up is believed to have been Billy Wright's handler. As with many other cases of collusion involving Crown force handlers and their loyalist agents, the picture emerging is one of state murder by proxy.
O'Hagan was shot dead as he walked home with his wife Marie on Friday 25 September. The journalist identified and named one of his killers just moments before he died. The current leader of the LVF, a breakaway loyalist paramilitary group founded by Billy Wright, is suspected of taking part in the killing.
As part of his research into collusion, O'Hagan had approached a close associate of this man in Lurgan. The man he approached, known as a drug dealer and suspected MI5 agent, is now also a suspect in the killing.
This man, his brother, another associate and a loyalist hitman from Dungannon are suspected of carrying out the killing. O'Hagan identified one of the gang before he died as the same man whom had threatened him just four nights earlier.
Concerns that the investigation into the journalist's death is being deliberately hampered by the RUC, now known as the PSNI, and MI5's protection of an agent have been raised with the United Nations Special Rapporteur Abid Hussein. Spokesperson for British Irish Rights Watch, Jane Winters, said the group had asked the UN special rapporteur to forward a copy of the report to the British government.