British troops 'stayed silent over UVF murder'

 

The British government was tonight challenged by an MP to explain why its soldiers did not respond to the killing of a pensioner by loyalist paramilitaries eight years' ago in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin MP Ms Michelle Gildernew vowed to raise with the Irish and British Governments the murder by the Ulster Volunteer Force of 76-year-old Ms Roseanne Mallon in Lisgallon, Co Tyrone, following fresh claims that soldiers were hiding out near the scene of the killing.

A leaked police report claimed six soldiers were concealed near the house where Miss Mallon was gunned down on May 8th, 1994 while watching television.

It claimed the soldiers were ordered "not to react" after they heard gunfire.

The leaked report also claimed:

:: Detectives investigating the murder were not told soldiers were in the area at the time of the killing, allegedly monitoring republicans with the camera system.

:: Footage recorded by the camera was also kept from them - even though it had been monitoring traffic at the time killers are believed to have scouted the scene.

:: Up to 14 hours of tapes from the day before the murder vanished and Army logbooks were "unavailable".

There was controversy two months after the pensioner's murder when a neighbour walking through fields found a hidden camera pointed at the house.

Ms Mallon's family has questioned whether the secrecy of the surveillance operation thwarted efforts to catch the killers.

Mr Martin Mallon, a nephew of the pensioner, said: "All the information they were getting from surveillance, you would have thought that would have been very relevant to the murder inquiry.

"We want to know if they were withholding vital information from the murder inquiry just to keep the camera secret."

The MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Ms Gildernew today added her voice to calls for an explanation.

"Revelations that British soldiers had secreted themselves in the vicinity of the house in which Ms Mallon was murdered raises many questions as to the involvement of the RUC and British military in the killing," she said.

"Given the circumstances, it would be totally implausible for anyone to suggest that the British army was unaware of what was going on at the time of the murder.

"As far as I am concerned an explanation is required from the British government as to the assistance the murder gang received from its military personnel and the RUC. It is my intention to raise this matter with both the British and Irish Governments at the earliest possibly opportunity."