RFJ attended a re-arranged hearing in the Roseann Mallon inquest yesterday. The inquest is dealing with a final issue: whether it is adequate for police neither to confirm nor deny (NCND) whether one of their agents was involved in the murder of the 76 year old woman. Counsel for the next of kin has asked for a ruling on this and the coroner had given lawyers for the various parties some time to arrange how to take the matter forward. The PSNI had already indicated they needed more time and an extra two weeks had been given before this hearing.
Yet again, the PSNI were not ready for an inquest hearing. Four solicitors, four barristers, a high court judge (Reg Weir), court staff, journalists and any members of the public had made their way to Family Court 2 in Belfast to follow developments. Yet again, at a legacy inquest, the police asked for more time. In this case they said they would be ready on Monday. Mr Justice Weir remarked: “It’s a pity it could not have been finished today. Usually relevant parties get matters ready for the next hearing.” When he was told that the next of kin were being kept informed, the judge said: “Well why bother to set a timetable; why not do it in time” for the hearing.
Once again, the police are seeking to throw magic dust into the eye with their mystical intelligence material: a special “exercise” is under way; they’re being as quick as they can; everything has to “be made ready”; then the coroner’s adviser can “go down” and “view the material”; he can then decide what is “potentially relevant” to the inquest; the police will have to decide whether there is a ”public interest immunity issue” which means that they can cover-up material of relevance to the murder of a 76 year old woman. What is not covered up can then be shared with mere mortals.
Following this byzantine procedure, all parties will finally make their submissions on whether or not the NCND convention is appropriate in this case.
Mr Justice Weir was only too correct with his criticism of such delays. People come “expecting something to happen” and instead leave “with their two arms the one length”.
In order to bring things back to a proper consideration, he reminded all present that Roseanne Mallon was murdered nearly 21 years ago, while her inquest has, thus far, lasted two years. In the absence of proper scrutiny of RUC Special Branch activity, one can only imagine they have a lot to hide.