RFJ statement concerning the PSNI harassment

Relatives for Justice statement concerning the PSNI harassment of one of our Board of Directors Mr. Martin Mallon from County Tyrone

Thursday August 20th 2009

Yesterday one of our members Mr. Martin Mallon, who also sits on our organisations Board of Directors, was stopped while traveling towards the Ballygalwley roundabout by the PSNI and had his car searched, his mobile phone, personal diary, and paperwork relating to his business taken from his car. These personal items have not yet been returned.

A  65 year-old man, Mr. Sherry, who suffers from a heart condition was a passenger in the car with Mr. Mallon. Unidentified PSNI officers also attempted to seize Mr. Sherry’s mobile phone but were initially prevented from doing so by Mr. Mallon who remonstrated with them about the stop and search and of Mr. Sherry’s medical condition.

Mr. Mallon explained that Mr. Sherry was not well and needed his phone in order to contact his doctor or the hospital should his condition deteriorate. He equally pointed out that the situation and PSNI abuse was adding to Mr. Sherry’s stress and anxiety and thus his heart condition.

Mr. Mallon, concerned for the welfare of Mr. Sherry, locked the car and remained inside with Mr. Sherry making a number of calls to alert people as to what was happening. He also called a local solicitor and the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA – both of whom immediately contacted the PSNI including an Assistant Chief Constable to express their complaint and to end the situation.

Nevertheless the PSNI eventually confiscated Mr. Sherry’s mobile phone once the they had gained access to the car. It too has yet to be returned.

Mr. Sherry was last night admitted to Craigavon Hospital by ambulance as a direct result of yesterday’s incident. And was released at 3pm this afternoon. He is currently being administered increased medication.

Relatives for Justice has been supporting the Mallon family throughout a number of landmark legal battles concerning a loyalist attack on the family home on May 8th 1994 which injured Mrs. Mallon and killed 76 year-old Rosanne Mallon.

Prior to the attack in May 1994 Mr. Mallon was subjected to a concentrated campaign of harassment and threats by members of the RUC. RUC Special members, who are known to the family and RFJ, issued death threats three weeks before the attack in which they threatened to have Mr. Mallon’s wife killed.

On this particular occasion Mr. Mallon was accosted on an isolated road and held for almost one hour by two armed members of Special Branch. During this detention two leading loyalists arrived, chatted with the armed Special Branch men, and then drove alongside Mr. Mallon’s parked car – they shouted abuse at Mr. Mallon and they also issued death threats against Mr. Mallon’s wife. One of those loyalists was Billy Wright.

At the time RFJ documented the incident with Amnesty International and a lawyer.

Subsequent to the attack on the Mallon home and the killing of Roseanne a local farmer uncovered a covert unit of the British army secreted into a dug-out in a field overlooking the Mallon home. Within fifteen minutes of being detected the area was sealed off, people were evacuated on the bogus claim that there was a bomb, and two helicopters arrived and collected the covert unit. In their haste they left behind a number of surveillance cameras.

Through a series of legal actions in which the family sued the British MoD the Mallon’s won discovery of statements from a number of covert soldiers who stated that they had been there prior to and during the attack. In their statement they say that they transmitted live televised images via their cameras to a room at Mahon Barracks Portadown which was recorded.

They also say in their statements that prior to the attack they were ordered to ‘switch off’ their cameras and that on later observing the attack and reporting it were ordered ‘not to react’. No one was ever held to account for the attack and murder. The RUC attempted to deter a number of witnesses who saw suspicious activity prior to the attack including two young school boys. Local people, and not the RUC, located the burnt out vehicle used by the killers. Initially the RUC claimed that this was not the vehicle but later retracted the claim.

The Mallon family have attended over 20 preliminary hearings concerning having an inquest into the killing. Former Coroner, Rodger McLarnon, cited that if the case had to have been in England then it would have required an inquiry but instead he was faced with limited resources on a part-time basis to hear a very complex case. His attempts to have the British MoD and the PSNI provide information were to no avail.

A reshuffle of the Coroner’s Service saw the case being referred to a High Court judge, Justice Weir, who recently requested that the PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde provide him with material in police possession concerning the killing and the overall covert operation that witnessed the murder of Roseanne. Hugh Orde has refused to assist the Coroner and has indicated his willingness to use gagging orders in the form of ‘Public Interest Immunity’.

It was this latest move by Hugh Orde that prompted the family in recent weeks to speak to the media expressing their concerns and objections to Hugh Orde’s refusal to assist in preventing the truth form emerging concerning the murder. The family have rightly pointed out that Hugh Orde is continuing with an old and failed agenda of the RUC in this regard despite his claim that there is a new beginning to policing. In terms of the PSNI’s approach to controversial killings that implicate the RUC in colluding with loyalists there is no evidence that anything has changed and thus in this particular area of policing there is absolutely no change.

It is our firmly held belief that in publicly conveying this message Mr. Mallon has been singled out for harassment by the PSNI. It is a method that harks back to the days of the RUC and which eventually led to the attack on the Mallon home. It is equally about deterring those families within this immediate community from pursuing truth and justice concerning the murders of their loved ones in similar circumstances. This form of political policing has no place within our society and must be condemned by everyone.

This harassment is driven by the will of those in authority who fear the true extent of what occurred on May 8th 1994, and more importantly exactly who incited, organized and directed those who killed Roseanne Mallon, – their will is to seek to silence Mr. Mallon. These attempts will fail.

Mr. Mallon is highly respected member of the local community making major contributions in terms of employment, GAA, charities and through his charitable work within Relatives for Justice in supporting families bereaved during the conflict. The wider community will determine for themselves precisely what the authorities are up to. The Mallon family will continue to pursue the truth including challenging Hugh Orde and his successor should he continue to withhold the truth. Relatives for Justice will also continue to support the Mallon and other families also seeking truth.ENDS