On the fifth anniversary of the murder of Martin O’Hagan last week, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said it had lost faith in the ability of the PSNI police to properly investigate the case.
The 51-year-old Sunday World journalist and father of three daughters was shot as he was walking home from a night out in Lurgan with his wife Marie on September 28th, 2001 by a unionist paramilitaries.
It has widely believed that agents of the PSNI Special Branch were involved in the attack, claimed by the breakaway LVF (Loyalist Volunteer Force).
On the fifth anniversary of the murder, journalists handed over a letter to the PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde demanding to know why no one has been charged with the killing.
The NUJ Irish secretary Seamus Dooley expressed “grave concern” at the lack of progress in the murder investigation and again asking that an outside police force be assigned to take over the case.
“It is obvious that the PSNI is not in a position to fully investigate this murder. The failure to apprehend those responsible and to secure convictions through the courts is deeply worrying and our members have lost confidence in the current investigation,” said Mr Dooley.
“In the circumstances I am renewing our request that a police force from outside Northern Ireland be assigned to this investigation, which should be treated as a priority,” he added in his letter to Mr Hain.
Mr Dooley also said that Mr Hain would be “familiar with the many allegations surrounding the murder”.
The journalist had worked to expose the LVF’sd campaign of nakedly sectarian assassinations against Catholics and its large illegal drugs distribution network.
He was the first journalist to draw attention to the activities of the LVF founder Billy Wright, who lived only a few miles from Mr O’Hagan and had reportedly attempted to have Mr O’Hagan murdered in 1992.
Northern editor of the Sunday World Jim McDowell said two of the men who were in the car involved in the drive-by shooting of Mr O’Hagan were known to the newspaper.
In last Sunday’s edition of the paper, he wrote: “There have been claims and suggestions that a cover-up has prevented Martin’s killers being brought to book because that pair, and their LVF cohorts, may be police informers.”
Although there have been eight arrests during the murder investigation, no-one has been charged in the five years since it happened.
* Meanwhile, the NUJ has expressed deep concern over a loyalist threat against another Sunday World reporter.
The PSNI alerted a journalist at the newspaper of a UVF threat against him over his continued reporting of the murder of Raymond McCord jnr who was killed in 1997 by the unionist paramilitary group.