Politicians and the media have condemned the killing of Sunday World journalist, Martin O'Hagan. Mr O'Hagan, an investigative journalist who worked for the northern edition of the Dublin-based newspaper, was shot dead last night as he walked home with his wife, Marie, from their local pub in Lurgan, County Armagh.

The Taoiseach described the murder as "senseless and brutal". Bertie Ahern said that those responsible had no place in the new society people were trying to build in the North. Tánaiste Mary Harney said that Mr O'Hagan's killing was shocking and depraved.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, said that he was shocked to learn of the appalling murder of Mr O'Hagan. He said that he wanted to express his deepest sympathy to Mr O'Hagan's wife and children.

The UUP leader, David Trimble, said that he was appalled by the cowardly act.

Members of the journalistic community have also expressed outrage at the murder. The National Union of Journalists Irish Organiser, Seamus Dooley, said that everyone was shocked and horrified at Mr O’Hagan’s killing.

Jim McDowell, Northern Editor of the Sunday World, expressed his anger at the death and said that he did not know what could be achieved by it. Sunday World Editor Colm MacGinty said that his paper had lost a loyal, dedicated, journalist and friend. He said that he was fearless, and had been shot in the back in search of the truth.

Senior security sources believe that the LVF, which has a strong presence in Lurgan and nearby Portadown, carried out the killing under the cover name, the Red Hand Defenders. The Red Hand Defenders, also a cover name used by the UDA, claimed responsibility for the killing.

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness said that everyone knew that it was the work of the UDA and he called on Dr John Reid to declare the UDA ceasefire over.

Bur the Northern Secretary has said there has been no indication that the UDA was behind the murder. Dr John Reid said that he shared the RUC Chief Constable's absolute determination to track down those responsible for what he called "this act of savagery".

Mr O'Hagan, who was in his 50s, was out walking with his wife near his home in Wheatfield Gardens at 10.30pm last night when a lone gunman pulled up beside him and shot him a number of times. He died at the scene.

Mr O'Hagan was an active trade union member and was the first journalist to be shot dead during the troubles in the North. He had been threatened before by Loyalist paramilitaries because of his work.

Jim McDowell said that he had no indication of any specific threats to him, although there was one incident in Lurgan on Monday which might provide a clue.

Many of Martin O'Hagan's reports concerned the shady world of drugs dealers as well as paramilitaries groups on both sides. He had been researching two stories recently, although it is not yet clear whether this had any connection with the killing.