The troubling death of Roseanne Mallon

One of the most depressing things about this GTC of Ireland is the selectivity of outrage. Sometimes the outrage is evoked because an organization has been criticized (“How dare you say the Orange Order is anti-Catholic!”), sometimes when an individual is made fun of (“How dare you talk that way about Ruth Dudley Edwards!”) and sometimes when an event is even puzzled over (“How dare you insult those killed in the Omagh bomb!”)

The other side of this hair-trigger fury on certain topics from our troubled past is the calm dismissal of what clearly should not be dismissed. A case in point is the death of Roseanne Mallon. If the name rings a bell, it may be because an inquest into her killing in 1995 has just found no evidence of collusion between state forces and loyalist paramilitaries in her death.

At the time of her death, Roseanne Mallon was a 76-year-old woman who suffered from arthritis. She was visiting the home of her sister-in-law when the house was raked with gunfire and she was killed. For the last twenty-five years there have been those who believe that collusion was involved.

Their reasons for this belief include:

  • At the time, two local boys made statements to the police that they’d seen army-type packs and guns in an old mill the day before Mrs Mallon was killed
  • Security forces had hidden two cameras in the area, and an RUC Special Branch surveillance camera was found in a field near the home.
  • Special Branch didn’t let police officers know of the existence of video material, let alone share that material with  them.
  • Interview notes on the case were destroyed
  • There was some doubt whether spent bullet casings had been tested for fingerprints.

Given the catalogue of collusion listed in Ann Cadwallader’s book Lethal Allies,  it seems hard to conclude other than that there was state collusion involved.

Which brings me back to my opening paragraph: how many of those who were fleck-mouthed with outrage when certain topics or individuals were looked at – how many of these pop-eyed gambons will jump off their high horse to denounce the death of Roseanne Mallon?

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam – May she rest in peace.


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