Tag Archives: Martin O’Hagan

28th September – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

28th September

Tuesday 28 September 1971

Tripartite talks continued at Chequers, England.

Sunday 28 September 1975

 The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb in Caterham, Surrey, England

Wednesday 28 September 1977

James Callaghan, then British Prime Minister, and Jack Lynch, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), held a meeting in Downing Street, London. One of the main issues discussed was economic cross-border co-operation.

Thursday 28 September 1978

Joshua Eilberg, then a Democrat Congressman, and Hamilton Fish, then a Republican Congressman, paid a five day visit to Northern Ireland. The two men later argued that the United States of America (USA) should play a part in finding a political settlement in the region.

Friday 28 September 1984 – Saturday 29 September 1984

Security forces in the Republic of Ireland intercepted a trawler, the Marita Ann, off the coast of County Kerry and uncovered seven tons of arms and explosives believed to be on route to the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Five men were arrested during the operation. The haul represented the largest find in the Republic of Ireland since 1973. [In June 1987 four American men were sentenced by an American court for their part in the incident. In August 1987 two American men and two Irish men were also sentenced by a French court.]

Tuesday 28 September 1993

Unionist politicians rejected a suggestion by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) for a boycott of government.

Thursday 28 September 1995

William Elliott (31), a member of Red Hand Commando (RHC), was shot dead by members of his own Loyalist paramilitary group, while leaving a friends’ house, Primacy Park, Bangor, County Down.

[The killing was the result of an internal RHC dispute. It was alleged that he had been killed because of his part in the killing of Margaret Wright (31) on 7 April 1994.]

Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), held a meeting with Michael Ancram, then Political Development Minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO). The meeting was held at the request of SF to discuss the political situation; there was agreement to meet again.

Sunday 28 September 1997

Loyalist who were taking part in the weekly picket of the Catholic church at Harryville, Ballymena, said that they would extend the protest to include Catholic chapels at Ballycastle, Dervcock, and Lisburn. They said that they would continue their protest until the Orange Order was allowed to parade in the Catholic village of Dunloy, County Antrim.

In continuing sectarian tension in the Oldpark area of north Belfast, the homes of three Catholic families were attacked with petrol bombs. There were no serious injuries in the attacks.

Tuesday 28 September 1999

David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), criticised loyalist paramilitaries for attacks on Catholics. He also called on people to repudiate “mafia loyalism” in Protestant areas. Trimble quoted figures indicating that Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for 9 murders, 76 shootings, 178 ‘punishment’ beatings, and over 400 incidents of forced exclusions. The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) criticised Trimble for his remarks.

Friday 28 September 2001

Martin O’Hagan

See Martin O’Hagan Page

Loyalists Kill Journalist Martin O’Hagan (51), a Catholic civilian, who worked as a journalist for the Sunday World (a Dublin based newspaper) was shot dead at 10.45pm (22.45BST) by Loyalist paramilitaries as he walked towards his home with his wife in Lurgan, County Armagh. The Red Hand Defenders (RHD), a cover name previously used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), claimed responsibility for the killing. O’Hagan was the first journalist to be killed during the course of ‘the Troubles’.

[The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) believed that the LVF was responsible for the killing. O’Hagan had written a number of stories about the activities of the LVF and had been threatened on a number of occasions.]

Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the RUC, made a further appeal to political and community leaders to do all they can to try to bring an end to the on-going violence in north Belfast. He again stated his belief that Loyalist paramilitaries, in particular the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), were involved in the shooting and rioting.

John Reid, then Secretary of State, stopped short of officially declaring that the UDA ceasefire was over.

In a statement Reid said the he would give the UDA one last opportunity to end the violence in north Belfast. [Reid had warned the UDA on 31 July 2001 that he was keeping that organisation’s ceasefire under review.] A concrete block was thrown at a school bus in north Belfast. Seven children were injured in the incident. The bus was taking children, aged 12 to 16 years, to Hazelwood Integrated College when it was attacked at Skegoniel Avenue.

[Integrated schools in Northern Ireland are attended by Catholic and Protestant pupils.]


Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the follow  people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live  forever

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

“There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

  7 People lost their lives on the 28th September  between 1972 – 2001

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28 September 1972
Edward Pavis,   (32)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot at his home, Glenvarlock Street, Belfast.

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28 September 1978
Brian Russell,   (30)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Civilian searcher. Shot during sniper attack on British Army (BA) patrol, Waterloo Place, Derry.

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28 September 1981


Alexander Beck,   (37)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in rocket attack on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) mobile patrol, Glen Road, Andersonstown, Belfast.

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28 September 1982
Ronald Brennan,   (22)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot during attempted robbery at Mallusk Post Office, near Belfast, County Antrim.

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28 September 1991
Larry Murchan,  (63)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Loyalist Retaliation and Defence Group (LRDG)
Shot outside his shop, St James Road, Falls, Belfast.

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28 September 1995


William Elliott,  (31)

Protestant
Status: Red Hand Commando (RHC),

Killed by: Red Hand Commando (RHC)
Shot, while leaving friends house, Primacy Park, Bangor, County Down. Internal Red Hand Commando (RHC) dispute.

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28 September 2001

Martin O’Hagan,   (51)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Red Hand Defenders (RHD)
Journalist. Shot while walking near to his home, Westfield Gardens, off Tandragee Road, Lurgan, County Armagh.

See Martin O’Hagan Page

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Assassination of Martin O’Hagan – Journalist and Ex member of Official IRA

Martin O’Hagan

Owen Martin O’Hagan, (23 June 1950 – 28 September 2001) was an Irish investigative journalist from Lurgan, Northern Ireland and a former member of the Official Irish Republican Army who spent much of the 1970s in prison. He was the most prominent journalist to be killed as a consequence of the Troubles and the only one to be specifically assassinated as a result of his work.

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Insight: The Murder Of Martin O’Hagan

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Life

Martin O’Hagan’s father worked as a radio and TV repairman for the British military. O’Hagan was one of six children, and spent part of his childhood in the married quarters of British bases in Germany. His grandfather was also a British soldier, and saw service at Dunkirk. O’Hagan’s family returned to Lurgan when he was seven, and he was educated in the town, leaving after taking O-levels to work in his father’s TV repair shop.

As a teenager during the early Troubles, he joined the Official IRA‘s Lurgan unit (a relative was Joe B. O’Hagan, a highly regarded Irish republican active from the 1940s onwards). He was drawn to the Officials because of their then radical socialist-republican politics, and became active in their military wing. He was interned in 1971 and spent more than a year in the Official IRA compound at Long Kesh. After he was released in 1973, he was jailed for seven years for transporting guns, and was released in 1978.

He despised the sectarianism of Northern Ireland society and married a local Ulster Protestant woman, Marie Dukes, with whom he had three daughters. O’Hagan retained his socialist outlook throughout his life. He studied sociology at the Open University and the University of Ulster.

O’Hagan worked as a reporter for the tabloid newspaper, the Sunday World. In this capacity, he wrote about a range of criminals and paramilitaries. He was also secretary of the Belfast branch of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) at the time of his death.[1]

Work

Notwithstanding his history with the Official IRA, O’Hagan became accepted into the press community in Northern Ireland. His hard work quickly gaining him respect. In addition to his insightful stories on paramilitaries, he was known for old-fashioned, muck-raking tabloid stories, especially for exposing the private and sometimes seedy lifestyles of Ulster loyalists. One story included a picture of a well-known Orangeman, wearing Orange Order regalia, beside one of the same man found in a sex-contact publication, showing him naked.[2]

In the late 1980s he was prominently featured in the controversial Channel 4 documentary The Committee, which made allegations of RUC collusion in loyalist murders of Roman Catholics. As a witness in a subsequent libel action against the producer of the programme at the High Court in London he said: “I have tried to be an independent and objective journalist but my conviction has hung over me like a sword, although I have always tried to be honest about it… I have always tried to be squeaky clean because people will always try to cast this up in my face.” [3]

Not all of his work was controversial. In the early 1990s he collaborated with several Portadown musicians and took over a talent competition previously run by the Ulster Star newspaper in Lisburn, turning it into a Northern Ireland-wide event.

O’Hagan would often confuse paramilitaries by writing under an assumed name or by not naming the subject of his articles. He would instead use a nickname. The person would be described in great detail: appearance, habits, haunts, associates, type of car, etc. – everything but his name, but in the Who? column (a long-running and sometimes hard-hitting page of snippets in the newspaper) he would refer to the person by name in a way which would allow the reader to link both stories.

In the early 1990s, he wrote several pieces about the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade. He coined the nickname “the Rat Pack” for this group, and “King Rat” for its leader Billy Wright. Wright later founded the Loyalist Volunteer Force, a breakaway faction. He was responsible for an attack on the Sunday World offices in Belfast, and threatened to kill O’Hagan. Wright was assassinated by the Irish National Liberation Army in 1997.

Provisional IRA abduction

O’Hagan was abducted by the Provisional IRA in 1989 following a report by the Sunday World about the killing of John McAnulty on 18 July 1989.[4] He was interrogated for several days regarding the source of reports to the newspaper (supposedly from an IRA insider) and expected to be killed. He was later released unharmed. Following this incident and Loyalist threats he moved to the Cork offices of the newspaper for several years but later returned to the Belfast office.[3]

Assassination

After returning to live in Lurgan, O’Hagan published a series of articles on drug dealing in a loyalist paramilitary grouping,[5] and had been the subject of death threats. He had bumped into a known loyalist on a previous walk home from his pub and had been advised that he had been “clocked” (a local term meaning ‘observed’) walking the route.[6] He and his colleagues on the Dublin-based Sunday World were accustomed to threats of this nature, however, and although “rattled” by the veiled threat, O’Hagan continued to walk home from the pub on Friday nights but varied his route as a precautionary measure.[6]

On 28 September 2001 Martin and his wife Marie walked to “Fa’ Joe’s” pub, a well-known mixed bar on Lurgan’s Market Street, for their usual Friday night drink together. The pub had been Martin’s favourite for many years. As they walked home to Westland Gardens, close to the loyalist Mourneview Estate, a car pulled slowly alongside them just yards from their house. Martin pushed his wife into a hedge as a gunman opened fire from the car hitting him several times. As he lay wounded he asked his wife to call an ambulance. When she returned from doing so he was dead.

Martin O’Hagan’s murder was “claimed” by the Red Hand Defenders, a nom de guerre used by the Loyalist Volunteer Force.[7]

Legacy

No-one has yet been prosecuted for the killing of Martin O’Hagan. However his colleagues at the Sunday World (particularly Jim Campbell, who was also wounded in an assassination attempt by Loyalist paramilitaries),[8] and the NUJ continue to criticise police and prosecutors in Northern Ireland for the absence to date of any murder convictions. On 6 April 2008 the Sunday World published an article naming Robin “Billy” King as the killer, and asked why the PSNI had not arrested and charged him with the murder.[9] In the same issue the newspaper ran a story on the unveiling of a plaque in memory of O’Hagan at Belfast’s Linenhall Library.[10] The Sunday World has run a series of articles which have “targeted the O’Hagan suspects with an extremely accurate weekly account of their activities.”[8]

The NUJ has discovered that Martin’s journalistic notes, written in a personalised and initially undecipherable shorthand, have been partially decoded and the PSNI are examining the interpretations in connection with the Omagh Bombing.[11]

Writing in the NUJ newsletter “Freelance” in September 2008, Kevin Cooper said:

He continues to be remembered and missed by his colleagues and friends of the Belfast and District Branch of the NUJ. We miss his good humour, his love of mischief, his tireless commitment to socialism and trade unionism. He was no saint; he was, like the rest of us, human and made mistakes. He could infuriate and delight you at the same time. He was not always treated with the respect and dignity he deserved.[12]

Murder trial

Five men were arrested and sent for trial in September 2008 for the murder of Martin O’Hagan. However, no one was ever charged for the murder, leaving Martin O’Hagan and his grieving family without justice