A judge investigating the 1994 UVF murder of a Dungannon pensioner has criticised the Ministry of Defence for delaying proceedings ahead of the inquest.
“It is wholly unacceptable that the MoD are treating this in a cavalier fashion,” Mr Justice Reg Weir said yesterday.
At a preliminary hearing into the murder of Roseanne Mallon (76), Justice Weir warned: “Suspicions have not in any way been allayed by the actions of the MoD. We are getting close to the date fixed for inquest. Their actions have been very inconsiderate.
“It is not for the MoD to dictate how this inquest proceeds. It is not for the MoD to determine the timetables for these matters.”
The May 17 inquest will look into the murder of Roseanne Mallon and security force collusion with loyalists.
At yesterday’s hearing, issues surrounding the disclosure of PSNI and MoD evidence and the anonymity of witnesses were discussed.
Justice Weir took umbrage at the length of time taken to redact, or black out, material relating to the spinster’s murder. “It is inexplicable why they haven’t got the small balance of evidence redacted. There has been a failure to meet successive given dates. A few straight answers would be appreciated,” he warned.
An MoD representative apologised to Justice Weir for the delay and indicated senior officials would be meeting with Security Minister Paul Goggins next Tuesday to discuss the matter.
A barrister representing Ms Mallon’s family objected: “The MoD and PSNI have ignored the deadline set by this court. All the indications are that they are working to their own timetables.”
It was also heard that PSNI witnesses would not be requesting anonymity but an MoD witness who planned a relevant surveillance operation would require anonymous screening.
The inquest is expected to begin May 17.