Five of the ten new NUJ life members in Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher
NUJ President Barry McCall from Dublin was the guest of honour at the presentation of life memberships to ten members of the National Union of Journalists, most of them working in the Dublin area. The ceremony was held on Friday evening at Liberty Hall, as a prelude to the Biennial Delegate Conference of the Irish section of the NUJ. NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet came to congratulate the ten, who between them have over 400 years’ membership of the union.
Jim Eadie, Ray Managh, Michelle Stanistreet and Michael Fisher (Belfast & District Branch, NUJ)
Husband and wife team Clodagh Sheehy and Liam Kelly from the Irish Independent group were among the recipients. Des Ekin of the Sunday World, who joined the NUJ as a cub reporter in the Newtownards Chronicle before moving to the Sunday News also received the award. Another Northerner Ray Managh who has worked for many years as a freelance courts correspondent in Dublin was presented with his certificate. He began his career in the Tyrone Constitution in Omagh and his proposer for NUJ membership was Ivan McMichael. He sent warm regards to a former colleague and PA Ireland Editor Deric Henderson, celebrating forty years as a journalist in Belfast.
Ray Managh Photo: © Michael Fisher
IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran (who has been re-elected to the post) thanked each of the members for their contribution to the NUJ.
IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran presents Ray Managh with his life membership award Photo: © Michael Fisher
The other recipients were Paul Barry, former deputy Sports Editor of the Irish Times, whose father, a photographer, had proposed him for NUJ membership; Michael Lavery, formerly of the Roscommon Herald and later with the Evening Herald; Con Power and Albert Smith (Independent Newspapers); Gerry Smyth, a poet, who worked for The Irish Times (I know from my mother that the Smyths are particular about the spelling of their surname!!); and Jim Smith (correct!), former Editor of the Dundalk Argus.
Martin O’Hagan: Photo Kevin Cooper
Last week I wrote about the case of NUJ colleague Martin O’Hagan, shot dead by the LVF in Lurgan in September 2001. We remembered him and other journalists who had been killed in the course of their work during the IFJ Congress at Dublin Castle. In January the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory announced there was to be no prosecution regarding his killing.
Yesterday in Belfast (June 11th) there was an interesting development when, according to a BBC report, also carried on the RTÉ 6:01 news and on UTV, Mr McGrory revealed that the Public Prosecution Service has referred the case of Neil Hyde back to court amid allegations that he did not tell the “full truth” in his dealings with the authorities. In January last year Hyde signed a contract with them under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act to become an “assisting offender”.
The loyalist supergrass testified against those allegedly responsible for murdering the Sunday World journalist. In return, his 18-year sentence was reduced to three years. He pleaded guilty to 48 offences, including drug dealing, arson, possession of firearms and withholding information in connection with Mr O’Hagan’s murder.
Mr McGrory told a news conference there was sufficient evidence that Hyde had knowingly breached the terms of his agreement. He added: “It’s in the interests of justice that the case be referred back to the original sentencing court.” Papers have been lodged and a judge will decide later this year whether Hyde broke his agreement and will review his sentence. It is believed to be the first time in the UK that a case of this type has been referred back to court.
The announcement by the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland that there will be no prosecution in the case of the killing of NUJ member and former Belfast Branch Secretary Martin O’Hagan is extremely disappointing and has been criticised by the union. I can understand the reaction of his family. His brother Fintan, quoted by BBC NI, said there was a witness who wanted to tell a court who killed Martin, yet the Public Prosecution Service was depriving that witness the opportunity of telling the court his account and further depriving the court of the opportunity to consider the truthfulness or otherwise of that evidence and depriving the family, and indeed the public, of the opportunity to see justice in action. “Justice needs not just to be done, it needs to be seen to be done”, he added.
He was responding to the statement by DPP Barra McGrory that after very careful consideration of all the available evidence, including that of an assisting offender, Neil Hyde, a decision had been taken not to prosecute in the murder case. This was owing to the absence of any corroboration of the evidence. When Hyde was jailed in February 2012 for three years, the judge told him that if he had not agreed to identify the alleged culprits in Mr O’Hagan’s murder and give evidence about the activities of the outlawed LVF, he would have been jailed for 18 years. Mr O’Hagan, a Sunday World journalist, was shot dead as he was walking home with his wife in Lurgan in 2001.
Sunday World Northern Editor Jim McDowell said he was angry and annoyed at Friday’s announcement. “Myself and the staff have worked hard since that black Friday in September 2001 to try to get justice for Martin O’Hagan. It now seems, that old adage, while there there may be law in this country, where is the justice?” He said the decision would not diminish in any way the paper’s resolve to continue to try to get justice for Martin.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has expressed grave disappointment at the announcement by the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland that a decision has been taken not to prosecute in the Martin O’Hagan murder case. Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley said the union was disturbed by the announcement. “This union does not accept that the State can walk away from this case. The murder of Martin O’Hagan was an outrageous act of violence which cannot go unpunished. We will continue to campaign for a full investigation leading to the conviction of those responsible for the murder of our friend and colleague“, he said.