Kelly to meet with PSNI over murder

THE SDLP is calling for a meeting with the Chief Constable after the family of murdered journalist Martin O’Hagan said they had been left with ‘no answers and no justice’ 11 years after his killing.

Deputy Leader Dolores Kelly said she is eager to set up a meeting with the PSNI chief as well as the Justice Minister David Ford following revelations that the only man charged in relation to Mr O’Hagan’s murder was released from jail.

The SDLP is also to raise the matter with the NI Policing Board.

Loyalist ‘supergrass’ Neil Hyde is understood to have been spirited out of Northern Ireland to a new life after serving a reduced sentence in return for turning state’s evidence.

However, information he has provided on former LVF associates said to have been involved in the Sunday World reporter’s death has not yet resulted in any charges.

Hyde (32) from Lurgan, was sentenced to three years in prison in February after signing a contract to become an ‘assisting offender’.

The prison service was unable to confirm when he was released saying it could not comment on individuals.

However, it is understood he was transferred from isolation in Maghaberry prison in recent weeks for a new life in England after completing less than half of his sentence.

Hyde admitted to more than 40 offences, including withholding information in relation to Martin’s murder.

The Lurgan journalist had been gunned down not far from his home in September 2001 in front of his wife.

Hyde was arrested along with four other suspects in 2008 and pleaded guilty to charges relating to drugs, firearms robbery and managing a meeting in support of the LVF.

In granting Hyde a significantly reduced sentence Belfast Crown Court heard that he had offered ‘the very greatest assistance in resolving the notorious killing’ of the journalist.

Mr O’Hagan’s sister Joanne said the family are deeply disappointed at the lack of progress.

“Neil Hyde appears to have got off very lightly. Given his character and his own past you would have to question what kind of witness he would make,” she said.

“He has now gone to live a new cushy life funded by the taxpayer while we are left with no justice for Martin.

“I know in Northern Ireland there are many people in a similar situation to ourselves and our grief is no different to anyone else.

“But it remains that 11 years on no one has been convicted of Martin’s murder and as a family we are left in limbo with no answers and no justice,” she said.

Justice Minister David Ford said: “The murder of Martin O’Hagan was a vicious and pernicious crime and I share the desire of Dolores Kelly and many others that those responsible should be brought to justice.

“However, if Mrs Kelly has any evidence that the PSNI has not investigated the murder properly or fully that should be drawn to the attention of the Police Ombudsman who has responsibility for such matters.

“There are good reasons why Ministers should not become involved in the detail of investigations and I intend to respect the independence of the PSNI,” said Mr Ford.

A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “This is an ongoing investigation and police would continue to appeal to anyone with information to contact them.”