Highly sensitive intelligence is set to be examined at a so-called secret court hearing into alleged state collusion in a loyalist massacre at a Belfast bookmakers.
Eight lawsuits have been brought against the Chief Constable, Ministry of Defence and British Government on behalf of those killed and injured at the Sean Graham shop in February 1992.
A High Court judge on Friday vowed to press ahead with a closed material procedure (CMP) in a bid to ensure no further delays in the actions.
That will involve intelligence documents being assessed in private, with a special advocate barrister appointed to protect the rights of plaintiffs shut out from the hearing.
Confirming a date for the CMP will be fixed next week, Mr Justice Maguire insisted: “I’m absolutely not going to tolerate any slippage.”
Five Catholics were shot dead when the Ulster Freedom Fighters opened fire inside the bookies on the lower Ormeau Road.
Several other customers were wounded in the mass shooting.
Victims and their relatives are seeking damages for alleged negligence and misfeasance in public office.
The actions involve claims that a rifle used in the atrocity was smuggled in from South Africa by a state agent.
According to the plaintiffs’ case, the authorities should have known the weapon was part of a shipment overseen by Brian Nelson, a loyalist paramilitary who worked for British intelligence.
The watchdog has been unable to publish a long-awaited report due to the emergence of new material.
Earlier this year the Police Service of Northern Ireland apologised after finding relevant information on a computer system which had been overlooked.
In court on Friday, counsel for one of the victims said it was “even more alarming” when it emerged for a second time last month that the PSNI had discovered more documents.
“It was described as significant, sensitive information which has not been made available previously to the Ombudsman,” he added.
However, Mr Justice Maguire made it clear that he was not prepared to wait until the report is finally published.
“We are going to get on with it, I’m absolutely fed up with delay after delay in these cases,” he said.
Outside court a solicitor representing the families explained their reasons for taking legal action.
Niall Murphy of KRW Law said: “These cases involve concerns of collusion in the commission of this atrocity, the protection of state agents from prosecution in the aftermath, and perhaps most egregiously, the role of the state in arming the UFF.
“The Chief Constable has applied for the protection of a secret court by means of a Closed Material Procedure to deal with his disclosure responsibilities regarding sensitive intelligence.”
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Alan Erwin for the original story
Follow these links to find out more: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Graham_bookmakers%27_shooting