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Silence for murder victim

Newsrooms across the UK and Ireland fell silent at 2pm yesterday as a mark of respect for veteran Sunday World journalist Martin O’Hagan, who was shot dead in front of his wife on Friday near his home in Lurgan.

His murder was the first of a journalist in Northern Ireland during the history of the Troubles. Loyalist paramilitaries have claimed responsibility for the murder.

Northern editor of the Dublin-based Sunday World Jim McDowell, described his colleague as “the backbone of the Sunday World”.

He added: “Martin was well-liked and immensely respected by everyone in the office.

“He never stepped back from stories about paramilitaries or drug pushers.”

Sunday’s edition ran 16 pages of tributes under the headline “Fearless”, and editor Colm MacGinty vowed that the paper would continue its tough, uncompromising style.

The deputy mayor of Craigavon, Jonathan Bell, condemned the murder as “an attack on free speech and freedom of the press – one of the fundamental rights of our society”.

Martin was secretary of the Belfast and district branch of the National Union of Journalists.

NUJ General Secretary John Foster has called on all media organisations to open books of condolences at their offices this week for members of the public and workers to express condolences to the O’Hagan family and to express their outrage at the murder.

Union NEC member Kevin Cooper visited the bereaved family and the offices of the Sunday World in Belfast and said afterwards: “The protection of journalists covering Northern Ireland is of paramount importance if we are to ensure that the public has a full range of opinion.

“Too often people blame the media when they perform their professional function of informing society.

“Martin was courageous journalist who refused to be silenced and he would expect his colleagues to continue his work as a journalist of integrity and commitment.”

  • Veronica Guerin, of the Sunday Independent, was gunned down in Dublin in 1996 and former Sunday World northern editor Jim Campbell was seriously injured in a shooting in the late 1970s.

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