Sandwiched between the killings of journalists Veronica Guerin in 1996 and Lyra McKee in 2019 was the killing of Sunday World journalist Martin O’Hagan.
In September 2001 Mr O’Hagan was murdered just metres from his home by members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force in Lurgan, Co Armagh after publishing a series of articles on the drug dealing of loyalist paramilitaries.
Mr O’Hagan’s wife Marie, who was with her husband at the time, escaped death when her husband pushed her into a hedge to protect her.
Following the inquest into Mr O’Hagan’s killing the Northern Ireland coroner Mr John Leckey praised the work of investigative journalists and said that their work needed to be recognised, appreciated and defended.
No one has been convicted of Mr O’Hagan’s murder despite an RUC/ PSNI claim that they know who his killers are.
Journalists are a vital arm of our democracy and a bulwark upon which our democracy flourishes. Therefore, the murder of any journalist is an attack not only on free speech but on democracy itself.
The murder of Mr O’Hagan did not evoke the same degree of outrage and opprobrium among press, public and politicians as the killings of Ms Guerin and Ms McKee did. No president, taoiseach, tanaiste, secretary of state or first minister was in attendance at his funeral as was the case at Ms McKee’s funeral. Would it have been different if Mr O’Hagan had been murdered by republicans?
Tom Cooper, Dublin