Northern Ireland news

Concerns raised about Roseann Mallon inquest outcome

A judge has said there was no collusion in the 1994 loyalist murder of Roseann Mallon near Dungannon in Co Tyrone
Connla Young

ACADEMICS and legal figures have raised questions after an inquest found there was no collusion in the murder of Catholic pensioner almost 25 years ago.

Roseann Mallon was gunned down by the UVF as she sat in her sister-in-law's house near Dungannon in May 1994.

It is believed her nephew Martin Mallon and his brother Christopher were the targets of the loyalist hit squad.

The inquest heard the British army had installed two cameras in the area to monitor the men and that RUC Special Branch failed to hand over captured footage to police investigating the murder.

Last week presiding coroner Lord Justice Weir ruled he could find no evidence of collusion in the case.

The ruling caused surprise in the nationalist community, where is it believed some of those suspected of involvement in the murder were state agents, including former UVF commander Billy Wright.

He and two other loyalists were arrested after the shooting and later questioned.

The interview notes had been held at Gough Barracks in Co Armagh and the inquest surmised that they had been destroyed.

Police officers' journals were also not available.

In his findings, the coroner said he did "not find direct or indirect evidence of collusion or anything from which I could infer collusion from the evidence which has been brought before me".

Nephew Martin Mallon voiced concerns about the outcome.

Experts in the area of collusion have also commented on the ruling, including Professor Mark McGovern who is based at Edge Hill University near Liverpool.

He said there were issues around the "interpretation placed on what are referred to as discrepancies and unexplained events" in the police investigation.

He noted the coroner did not "consider the threats that had been made to the Mallons prior to the shooting and that provides an important context".

The Derry native added that the court was unable to look at the Mallon murder in the context of other cases in east Tyrone at the time, which showed similar patterns such as the "destruction of evidence".

He also said the coroner did not deal with the role of agents and informers, an issue raised in earlier hearings.

A new book by Prof McGovern, 'Counterinsurgency and Collusion in Northern Ireland', which examines collusion in the mid-Ulster area, will be published later this year.

Relatives for Justice CEO Mark Thompson, who has worked closely with the Mallon family, also voiced reservations about the outcome.

Tyrone-based solicitor Pat Fahy, who does not represent the Mallon family, said he found it "deeply troubling".

"It is 20 years since Judge Cory examined and clarified the law surrounding collusion," he said.

"The law may need to be looked at again."

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