The Murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth, May 1976. Towards a public inquiry?




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A Brief Review: The Seamus Ludlow Truth and Justice Campaign.

The Ludlow Family Invites You To Support its Demand For Public Inquiries into the Murder by a British Army UDR and Loyalist Red Hand Commando murder gang of an innocent Irishman near his Dundalk, County Louth, home, on 2 May 1976. 

This page is a brief review of this case to date. More detailed information about these issues can be found in the Ludlow family's original web site.

Above (left and right): These are photographs of the late Seamus Ludlow, aged 47 years, of Thistlecross, Mountpleasant, Dundalk, north County Louth, in the Irish Republic. Seamus was born 4 December 1929. He was murdered a short distance from his life-long home on 2 May 1976.

A Catholic bachelor, employed as a forestry worker, Seamus lived with his elderly mother, Mrs. Annie Ludlow, in his lifelong home in County Louth, along with a married sister, Mrs. Nan Sharkey, her husband John, now deceased, and their family.

Seamus Ludlow was abducted and murdered by armed Loyalists and British soldiers outside the town of Dundalk on the night of 1st. and 2nd. May 1976. He was last seen thumbing a lift home from the pub, the Lisdoo Arms,  at around midnight just minutes before he disappeared. 

Despite false claims, that were encouraged by the Irish Gardai, that Seamus Ludlow had been murdered by the IRA because he was an informer, it is now known that both the Gardai and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in the North of Ireland were aware at least in 1977, if not even earlier, that the killers were in fact Loyalists.

 South of the border the Gardai abandoned their murder investigation after only 19 days, without ever informing the Ludlow family, who were repeatedly told that the case file remained open. 

(In fact, on 4 March 2002, the Ludlow family was informed by the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland that the loyalist killers were known to the RUC as early as 1977, but they did not pass the information on to the Gardai until 1979 and there are no reports that the RUC did anything with this information before passing it to the Gardai.)

They knew that they included at least two locally recruited members of the British Army. They spent the next twenty years protecting these killers, and casting a terrible slur on the memory of the innocent victim and his family.

Lies about Seamus Ludlow, citing him as an informer for British Intelligence who was murdered by the IRA have appeared in at least two books that were written by British journalists as propaganda for the British Army's notorious Special Air Service (SAS) regiment.

The Loyalist killers all came from the Comber and Newtownards areas of north Down. Information which would have identified these killers was suppressed for more than 20 years, allowing these men to remain free and at liberty to kill again. Why were these men being protected? Why were they above the law? Why was Seamus Ludlow so expendable? Will the authorities ever come clean and admit to their disgraceful responsibility in this matter?

Below: This is a photograph of the simple memorial sited at the location of  Seamus Ludlow's murder. This is located north of Dundalk, in a narrow lane off the Bog Road, near Ballymascanlan Hotel and Proleek Dolmen, and less than half a mile from the victim's lifelong residence at Thistle Cross. A close-up of the memorial Photograph: The memorial marking the spot where Seamus Ludlow's body was discovered on sunday 2 May 1976. and its inscription can be seen at the top of this page.

The simple inscription reads: "In loving memory of Seamus Ludlow Cruelly murdered by UDR and Red Hand Commando links on 2nd May 1976 RIP". An earlier memorial, placed there several years ago, was replaced during 1999.

Four Loyalists were arrested by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in February 1998. Three were arrested at their homes in north Down, and a fourth in Staffordshire, England. All four were taken to the Castlereagh Interrogation Centre for questioning. They were all released without charge, pending an investigation report being sent to the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). On 15 October 1999, the DPP ruled that none of the suspects would be charged with any offence, even though two of them have signed incriminating statements while in RUC custody.

Photograph: UTV graphic. depicting the four arrested Loyalists. Paul Hosking is photographed at bottom right.Left: This graphic appeared on the Ulster Television current affairs programme UTV Live Insight on 25 October 1999. The figures represent the four loyalists who are alleged to have been involved in the murder of Seamus Ludlow. Their names are all known to the Ludlow family.

Photographed at bottom right is Paul Hosking, who has spoken to the RUC, and to journalists, about his involvement as a witness to the crime. A major article in the Dublin Sunday Tribune newspaper of 8 March 1998, features an interview with Mr. Hosking,  conducted by journalist Ed Moloney. This article gives a full account of Mr. Hosking's recollections of the murder of Seamus Ludlow.

The others involved in the murder of Seamus Ludlow are described as two former members of the illegal Red Hand Commando death squad who were also members of the British Army's Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). One of these men was a captain in that discredited force, which is now known as the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR). 

The third man, known as Mambo, is also described as a Red Hand Commando figure who may also have been an agent for some branch of the British forces. A photograph of Seanus Ludlow's alleged killer has recently appeared in the book "The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings and the Murder Triangle", by journalist Joe Tiernan. It was Joe Tiernan who had originally approached the Ludlow family with new information, about the gardai cover-up, in 1996.

It is claimed that the cross-border RUC/Gardai/British Army cover-up that followed the murder of Seamus Ludlow was inspired to protect this man Mambo who is alleged to be the actual killer of Seamus Ludlow.

Photograph: Jane Winter, Director of British Irish Rights Watch, London, addresses the press at the Ludlow family's press conference in Dublin, February 1999, for the launch of her independent Report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow.Left: In this photograph members of the Ludlow family are holding a press conference at Buswell's Hotel, in Dublin, on 18th. February 1999. Jane Winter, Director of British Irish rights Watch (BIRW), London, came to Ireland that morning to launch her independent report on the death of Seamus Ludlow. The Ludlow family has demanded public inquiries on both sides of the  border to uncover exactly why Seamus Ludlow's murder was never properly investigated. BIRW supports that demand. Jane Winter has sent a further message of support to this site.

The Ludlow family wants to know why Seamus Ludlow's name was smeared by the authorities and why his killers were never brought to justice by the Gardai or by the RUC, who had identified them many years ago. They demand full truth and justice for an innocent victim who never received either from the authorities in the past. 

The Ludlow family wants to know who gave the orders for the cover-up of the evidence and the smearing of the victim. Who was being protected, and why? Why was the Ludlow family excluded from their loved-one's inquest on 19th. August 1976? Will those individuals responsible for the abuses of authority in this case ever be brought to account for their actions? 

In a recent advance for the Ludlow family, in 2002, the Irish Attorney General Rory Brady TD directed the coroner for County Louth, Ronan Maguire BL, to hold a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow. It was hoped that this inquest would undo some of the wrongs that were committed at that flawed inquest in August 1976. 

After much delay, due to continued garda obstructionism, the fresh inquest was set to commence on 5 September 2005 - fully three years after it was directed by the attorney general.

The Inquest

The gardai had been obstructive in delaying the handing over of vital files requested by the coroner Ronan Maguire. The files, particularly the internal Murphy files from 1998, were only produced when the coroner threatened to report this obstruction to the Attorney General. 

Still, there were conditions attached: the files were marked confidential and were not to be seen by the Ludlow family or their lawyers. It was agreed that the coroner could produce sections of the files as written submissions to the inquest.

The fresh inquest began as planned on the morning of 5 September 2005 and was concluded on the evening of the 6 September 2005. The inquest attracted considerable interest from press and broadcast media. Disappointingly, the Murphy files remained hidden from the inquest and important information long demanded by the Ludlow family remains out of sight. The shroud secrecy and cover-up still remains hanging over  the Ludlow family's search for truth.

 A jury of 6 men and four women at Dundalk courthouse unanimously returned a verdict that Seamus Ludlow's death was an Unlawful Killing, caused by gunshot wounds, with the medical cause of death being shock and haemorrhage.

A number of important points also emerged from the inquest:

Retired Dt Supt. John Courtney, who received a file naming four loyalist suspects, from the RUC in February 1979, stated that he was made aware of the four strong suspects in 1979 but was not given permission from Garda headquarters to pursue the investigation further. This was the first public admission that the murder investigation had been blocked by the Garda authorities in Dublin.

The same four loyalist suspects were questioned in 1998 and two of the men gave similar accounts of their involvement in the crime. Again, this was a first public admission.

No Garda was recorded as being given responsibility for contacting the Ludlow family for the first inquest in August 1976.

Seamus Ludlow was not murdered by the IRA nor was he a member of the IRA. The suspicion of IRA involvement had been eliminated from the murder investigation within three months of the murder, though the Ludlow family were never informed. Indeed, family members were still being told this lie nearly twenty years later!

No trace of the victim's clothing or of two of the fatal bullets can be found.

The Ludlow family is supported in their demands by several distinguished human rights groups. British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW); the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL); Amnesty International; Relatives for Justice; and the Pat Finucane Centre, the Celtic League, the South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee, and a large number of local and national politicians on both sides of the border and in Britain support the Ludlow family.

BIRW have compiled an independent Report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow, in which they support the Ludlow family's demands for truth and justice. The BIRW report has been circulated to the Irish and British authorities.

Kevin Ludlow with his nephew Jimmy Sharkey.In this photograph, Kevin Ludlow, the only surviving brother of Seamus Ludlow, can be seen with his nephew Jimmy Sharkey. Together they have led the Ludlow family's campaign for truth and justice for many years.

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Page last updated: 08/10/05 13:23:28

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Revised: October 08, 2005 .