Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Why did soldiers fail to act as OAP was shot?

Roseanne Mallon
IMAGES FROM THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH TROUBLES GALLERY Miami Showband massacre... A Ford Escort which was one of the cars used by loyalist gunmen, is left abandoned near the murder scene. Miami Showband members Tony Geraghty, Fran O'Toole and Brian McCoy were shot dead by a UVF gang at Buskhill, Newry in 1975. The attack happened after their van was stopped at a bogus army checkpoint. While the band members were lined up outside, two UVF men attempted to plant a bomb in the van. It exploded prematurely killing the would-be bombers. The rest of the gang then opened fire on the band members, killing three of them. 31/7/1975
A young boy plays against a wall in North Belfast on the eve of the 1994 IRA ceasefire. Picture by Crispin Rodwell

A judge has said he expects to hear “a good deal” about the activities of soldiers on a surveillance operation near the scene of a pensioner’s murder 15 years ago.

Roseanne Mallon (76) was shot dead by UVF gunmen as she watched television at a remote country house near Dungannon in May 1994.

A preliminary hearing into the long-running case yesterday was told that an inquest will commence in Belfast on May 17 next year.

The inquest, which could last four weeks, will explore why surveillance soldiers who reported gunfire were ordered “not to react” as the killers escaped.

Yesterday’s hearing was told that the process of considering applications for screening witnesses and possible anonymity could take up to five months.

However Mr Justice Weir, who will preside over the inquest, said that applications from military personnel would have to be fully justified.

“If we have a situation where an old lady was shot we are going to have to find out a good deal about what they were doing there,” he said.

Justice Weir said he would take “a close look” at any proposed redactions, adding that he intended to take “a pretty pragmatic approach”.

“We don’t want people looking for anonymity or screening if all they did that day was lie in a ditch. I do hope we won’t have a rash of needless appeals because that just brings the whole process into disrepute,” he added.

Coroner counsel Sean Doran requested that applications be submitted by December 7, with the process likely to take 18 weeks.

Miss Mallon’s nephew Martin backed Justice Weir’s call for full details on what soldiers were doing at the time of the murder.

“The attitude and approach that he has taken to it is the first positive thing we have seen in a long, long time,” Mr Mallon said.

“All we’re asking for is an inquest, we’ve been asking for that from day one. He wants it taken to a conclusion, so do we. We have asked what call they had for any redactions since the very start.”

Mark Thompson, a director of Relatives for Justice, accompanied Mr Mallon to the hearing and welcomed the development.

“This was a 76-year-old pensioner, a civilian woman, who was killed. There is no need for all this nonsense, the truth just needs to be told,” he said.

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