Closure of a long-running inquest into the controversial killing of a North’s pensioner has been held up by at least two weeks.
The case for 76-year-old Roseann Mallon has been dogged by delay since it started in 2013.
The latest adjournment was agreed after a lawyer representing the security forces requested time to devise a “formula” for responding to a legal challenge of the policy not to identify informants.
High Court Judge Mr Justice Weir said: “You say it is going to take until February 4 to do that and if Mr (Barry) Macdonald (Mallon family barrister) is happy with that I suppose I have to live with it.
“As I have already said I am anxious that this matter should be brought to a conclusion.”
The court heard how lawyers for the Mallon family do not accept responses given by two police witnesses who declined to confirm or deny whether the murder suspects were working as State agents.
Kevin Rooney QC, representing the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Ministry of Defence, said the so-called NCND policy was “important” and claimed any review could have wider ramifications.
He said: “There are repercussions in how the NDNC (neither confirm nor deny) policy is applied not only in this inquest but in subsequent inquests.
“Even though in this case it is the chief constable that is concerned -- it does go to a higher level.”
Mr Rooney later added: “The response from the interested parties is that they have taken everything on board but would like some time to consider the way forward.
“It is an important policy but that we all know there are exceptions to it.”
Miss Mallon was shot dead when loyalist paramilitaries attacked her sister-in-law’s Co Tyrone home in May 1994.
The spinster, who suffered arthritis, was hit multiple times when gunmen from the outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) indiscriminately opened fire on the bungalow on Cullenrammer Road at the edge of Dungannon.
The UVF said its notorious mid-Ulster brigade was responsible and was targeting two of Ms Mallon’s nephews, Christopher Mallon – who was not home at the time - and Martin Mallon, who lived half a mile away. Both were involved with the republican movement.
In the aftermath, military spying equipment was found in a nearby field, sparking claims of security force collusion.
The covert camera was relaying footage to an Army unit posted in a nearby wood. The inquest has previously heard how tape recordings were wiped and the camera was unable to operate in poor weather and darkness.
No one has ever been convicted of Ms Mallon’s killing although high-profile killer Billy Wright, who was murdered in 1997, and two other loyalists were arrested and questioned.
The inquest was dramatically halted in December 2013 when it emerged that the weapon had been linked to at least six other loyalist killings in the east Tyrone area.
Last week it was claimed the Czech-bought assault rifle was part of a consignment brought into the North by Army-run agent Brian Nelson.