By Mark Thompson
This past week started with the opening of the inquest into the 1994 UVF murder of Tyrone pensioner Roseanne Mallon during an attack on the Mallon home, which also injured Bridget Mallon.
A significant British Army covert surveillance operation was detected a couple of months later when a secreted camera was uncovered that led to a dugout containing a number of British soldiers. This transmitted footage of the Mallon home and adjacent business to a command centre at Mahon Barracks, Portadown. It was later discovered that there were several covert teams secreted in the area around the Mallon home and presumably other cameras.
Documents discovered in a civil action by the Mallon family against the MoD almost 10-years ago contained statements from six of the covert soldiers. They stated that on the night of the shooting they were ordered to switch off the cameras and that when they heard gunfire and the attack taking place were told ‘not to react’.
This week the inquest heard that the State had destroyed virtually all of tape recordings of the surveillance operation, except for some edited bits, which are of no use really.
At the time the family, supported by RFJ, held onto the camera having it examined by a freelance television camera expert who said that the camera was capable of night vision. The RUC stated that it was incapable recording and transmitting at nighttime.
RUC Detective McFarland, who was in charge of the murder investigation, told the inquest that he was kept in the dark as to the nature of the covert operation and the camera, only learning of this when the family made public its discovery, despite him leading the murder investigation.
He acknowledged that, even though he was directing a murder inquiry, he did not receive all of the recordings made from the camera despite it recording suspicious vehicles the day prior to the attack, that were also reported to the RUC at the time by a family member. This too included descriptions of the occupants. This would have obviously been recorded.
McFarland said that the covert operation was a Special Branch and military one and that there was a ‘force within a force’.
The head of Special Branch at the time was Frank Murray, now deceased. Murray had a notorious reputation in an area that witnessed scores of attacks in which collusion was a constant feature. Some associate him with leading loyalists.
The inquest also heard that the weapon used in the attack was part of a consignment of weapons imported by MI5 agents including Brian Nelson and then distributed to all loyalist factions. RFJ documented the killings arising from shipment in September 1995, which can be located on our website.
The family always believed that there was more of an effort to retrieve MoD cameras than there was into the murder of Roseanne.
The RUC appointed a senior detective, Eric Anderson, to retrieve the camera. However, the not normally camera shy Anderson was unable to give evidence to the inquest due to ‘ill-health’.
Several years ago Anderson, who regularly appeared publicly and was an RUC darling on our television screens, was secretly filmed by UTV trying to sell police files on the disappearance of Arlene Arkinson even though he had sailed into the sunset with thousands of pounds from his retirement and Patten severance payout.
It’s all about the money as the song says… on and on…
Then we heard from Gareth Loughran who was 10-years old at the time and had witnessed guns and army backpacks at a deserted mill nearby along with his friend whilst out playing the day prior to the shooting. After the shooting the two children made statements to the RUC with their parents at Dungannon barracks saying what they had seen. The following day the RUC sent two detectives to their homes to clarify and re-interview Gareth and his friend. Gareth told the inquest he felt pressurized by the detectives going over and over things and that he was being ‘interrogated’ to change his statement to exclude what he had seen. The opening line of new statement said that all of his previous statement was ‘lies’. Gareth was interviewed without his parents being present as the family was also assisting with the wake at the Mallon home. Gareth’s mum, a nurse, was one of the first on the scene after the shooting.
Of course this is important as at the time the military covert operation was undetected and the priority was to conceal it. The boys’ statements drew attention to something untoward and which required concealment.
Gareth subsequently made a third statement, which was his initial statement in that he did see guns and backpacks.
The inquest will hear from British soldiers next week. Not surprisingly all have been granted anonymity.
The week concluded with the family of Stan Carberry, killed by the British Army November 1972 in West Belfast, seeking a leave hearing for judicial review of the PSNI, DOJ, and British Secretary of State concerning the failure to investigate the killing at the time and more latterly through the discredited HET.
So almost 20-years on from the murder of Roseanne Mallon and 41-years on from the murder of Stan Carberry families still campaign for justice on State murder. The State mantra was that the security forces, so-called, were there to ‘protect life and prevent attacks’.
The questions therefore are what were they doing on the evening of May 8th 1994 when loyalists, with weapons provided by MI5, attacked the Mallon home killing Roseanne and injuring Bridget?
Why were recordings erased/destroyed and what do the State have to hide and how bad was it really?
Most right thinking people won’t have to ponder too much about the answer when one considers the countless similar attacks. Patterns and policies all resourced with British Treasury money and sanctioned by nameless and faceless people in pinstriped suits in Whitehall and Downing St. Just maybe we might see some overt media cameras being pointed in that direction – not for the purpose of murder but rather accountability for murder.
Those close to and more senior than Special Branch head for that region Frank Murray know what was going down as they peddled their dirty war and whilst families seek justice they too made off with millions in taxpayers money post Patten safe in the knowledge that they had immunity – courtesy of the British Treasury again. Pay-offs?
And why has the Carberry family had to wait over 40-years after the murder of their father by the British Army to get an investigation?
State cover-up is the answer to that one too where impunity for State actions has been part and parcel of everyday life here for decades. It’s kind of like the murder of the Afghan man, whose murder was recorded and broadcast this week and where now the same military leaders who served here make calls for clemency. Here they privately cited that to prosecute British soldiers who murdered citizens would be bad for morale, despite almost 400 State killings and mostly of civilians, women, children and some priests as they administered to the dying and dead. But it was really about impunity.
So today, and with absolutely no sense of irony or indeed measure of shame, the inquest into Roseanne’s murder will sit at the later time of 11.30am as all the judiciary pay homage to the ‘heroes’ of the British Army who served in all wars including here.
In the absence of an independent truth commission families will continue to campaign and fight for justice.
Time for truth – time for justice.