Irish government pressed to hold an investigation into the murder of Martin O’Hagan

  • 28 Sep 2023

NUJ writes to Micheál Martin, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, renewing its call for urgent action 22 years after Martin O'Hagan's death.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has written on the 22nd anniversary of journalist Martin O'Hagan's killing, to the Tánaiste of Ireland seeking his support for an independent, international investigation. 

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary and Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, state action must also be taken to investigate the failure of security forces to properly investigate O’Hagan’s murder. The Sunday World investigative journalist was killed in 2001 by a loyalist paramilitary group, with no perpetrator held responsible for his death.


Dear Tánaiste,

On this the 22nd anniversary of the murder of Martin O’Hagan the National Union of Journalists is again seeking the support of the Irish government for an independent international investigation into his murder and the subsequent failure of the security forces in Northern Ireland to properly investigate his killing. As you know Martin O’Hagan was killed in Lurgan on 28th September 2001, 2003, in front of his wife Marie.

No one has been convicted of his murder, even though there are credible reports that the police were given the names of those responsible for his murder within 48 hours of his death.

There is a strong belief that security force informers were involved and that the issue of collusion is central to the failure to properly investigate his murder.

The issues raised by the Spotlight programme, broadcast on Tuesday March 1, 2022, on BBC One television, have not been addressed by the PSNI or the UK government. That programme brought into focus issues raised over many years by this union.

In the context of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Reconciliation Act) it is important to emphasise that Martin O’Hagan’s murder falls outside the remit of that legislation. He was killed in 2001 and his death related to his work as a journalist exposing criminality by paramilitary groups after the period known as the Troubles.

The NUJ shares the concerns of the Irish government over the Act. In the case of Martin O’Hagan there is no justification for treating his killing as a matter which should simply be consigned to history.

The fact that his murder was directly related to his work as an investigative journalist adds a significant dimension to the failure by the security forces in Northern Ireland to secure a conviction. That failure places Martin O’Hagan among the litany of journalists worldwide who were killed with impunity.

The Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland has failed to publish their report into the police investigation of the O’Hagan murder, despite calls by this union, supported by the International Federation of Journalists, the European Federation of Journalists and Amnesty International.

We believe that the Irish government must press for an international investigation into the murder of Martin O’Hagan.

Any such investigation must deal with the nature of the subsequent investigations, the potential link between suspects and all branches of the security forces and the state of awareness on the part of the PSNI of threats to the safety of Martin O’Hagan.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our concerns with you.

Michelle Stanistreet

General Secretary


Séamus Dooley

Assistant General Secretary

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