Martin O'Hagan's murder to be cleared up ? Murky world of LVF / UVF / Police assassinations may be uncovered
The name of Martin O'Hagan, hardly rings any bells these days. He was an unconventional Northern Ireland journalist who had been an IRA activist and twice been imprisoned.
He was interned in 1971 and spent more than a year in the Official IRA compound at Long Kesh. After he was freed in 1973, he was jailed for seven years for transporting guns, and was released in 1978.
Martin O'Hagan was shot dead in Lurgan, Co Armagh, aged 51,on September 28, 2001.
He was a principal source for material used in Channel 4's 1991 Dispatches documentary, The Committee. This exposed what we now know is without any doubt , that there was an Ulster Central Co-ordinating Committee, a group of loyalists and security forces members who conspired to carry out sectarian assassinations.
The RUC and mainstream loyalist paramilitaries derided such a concept as the result of fevered journalistic imagination.O'Hagan had been paid ... therefore he was incapable of delivering the Truth. The programme led to a prolonged series of prosecutions and libel cases, some of which remain unresolved.
Channel 4 was fined £75,000 and made to pay huge legal costs for failing to supply the RUC with information about the allegations in the programme. The Guradian has a good Biography at the time of his death here.
Martin O'Hagan's murder was "claimed" by the Red Hand Defenders a nom de guerre used by the Loyalist Volunteer Force.
We now know from the activities of the Police Ombudsman that the Police did indeed collude with paid assassins to kill, run guns, drugs and benefit from the proceeds of crime. BBC ONline Jan 22nd 2007 "NI police colluded with killers "
On 6th April 2008 the Sunday World (Documents here) published the name of Robin "Billy" King (who lived/s in Lurgan and ran the LVF) as the killer and asked pointedly why the PSNI had not arrested and charged him with the murder. In the same issue the newspaper ran a story on the unveiling of a plaque in memory to Martin at Belfast's Linenhall Library.
Today BBC Online report..."Four men are to appear in court charged in connection with the murder of journalist Martin O'Hagan.
Two men are charged with his murder, one with attempting to pervert the course of justice and the fourth is charged with assisting offenders. "
See excellent Amnesty story
UPDATE Monday afternoon : The Retrospective Murder Review Team is headed by Supt Alan Skelton and Dt Chief Brian Murphy. Their brief includes re-examining many unsolved paramilitary-related killings, including that of Martin O'Hagan.
Skelton and Murphy reopened the O'Hagan murder file last year.
Today 28-year old Neil Hyde of Princetown Avenue, and Nigel William Leckey,of Bowens Lane who is 43, both from Lurgan, Co Armagh, were charged with murdering the Sunday World reporter who was shot dead near his home in Lurgan 7 years ago. Leckey was also charged with possession of ammunition.
They were remanded in custody to appear again by a video link at Craigavon on 10th October.
A third defendant charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice was also remanded in custody until the same date.
A fourth person charged with facilitating the concealment, and or the disposal of a motor car used in the attack was granted bail to appear again at Craigavon on 10 October.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that one of those arrested has turned Queen's evidence as his family has been taken into protective custody.
However the man who pulled the trigger and is Prime Suspect Mumber 1, Robin "Billy" King , now a born again Christian, who has recently had a nice holiday in Mexico, runs a car business AKA drugs running outfit in the Netherlands and has criminal associates in Eire has done a runner from Lurgan and the PSNI cannot find him.
THis has to be a good case of a Monday being a good day to bury bad news.