- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2001

LURGAN, Northern Ireland Northern Ireland's security chiefs debated yesterday how to defeat Protestant extremists behind a wave of attacks on Catholics, particularly the slaying of a Catholic investigative journalist the first reporter slain in three decades of terrorism.
A caller claiming to represent an extremist anti-Catholic group, the Red Hand Defenders, told the British Broadcasting Corp. the group killed veteran Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan on Friday night.
The caller attributed his reports to the Protestant paramilitary underworld.
Mr. O'Hagan, 51, had been walking back to his home with his wife in his hometown of Lurgan when shots fired from a passing car struck him in the head. Police later found the attackers' burnt-out vehicle in a nearby Protestant neighborhood.
"Those who have carried out this heinous act have absolutely nothing to offer the people of Northern Ireland except fear and silence," said Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen. The slaying represented "an assault on one of the fundamental principles of any democratic society an independent and unfettered media."
Mr. O'Hagan had long been hated by Protestant militants because of his reports on leading paramilitary figures, their many murders and criminal rackets.
He coined headline-grabbing nicknames for the most infamous godfathers, including "King Rat" for Billy Wright, the founder of the outlawed Loyalist Volunteer Force, a 5-year-old Protestant gang rooted in Lurgan's neighboring town, Portadown.

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