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




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The Argus (Dundalk), 11 November 2005:

Four suspected of killing named

by Margaret Roddy


The Barron Inquiry has, for the first time, publicly named the four men suspected of killing Seamus Ludlow.

The report highlights how the names of the four, Paul Hosking, William Long, Samuel Carroll, and a then UDR corporal, James Reid Fitzsimmons, were given to the Gardai as far back as 1977.

However, at the time of the 47 year old forestry worker’s death in May 1976, the finger of blame was pointed at the IRA and rumours began to circulate that he had been an informer.

Indeed, Jimmy Sharkey, a nephew of the murdered man, says that at one time, he himself was regarded as a suspect as were other family members.

He believes that the political climate of the time made it easy for the IRA to be blamed for the murder.

“The IRA were seen as the enemy of the State while loyalists weren’t regarded as threat, especially down here.”

It was only in 1995 that the family learned that the Gardai had been aware all along of the identity of the killers.

Journalist, Joe Tiernan contacted them in 1995 and informed them that he had been told by Det Sergt. that Seamus had been the victim of a loyalist gang.

He says that the family accept that Seamus had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was abducted by his killers as he made his way home from Dundalk.

“We accept that it was a random sectarian killing. This gang of loyalists had gone to Dundalk that night on a mission and would have psyched themselves up for days on end, They were looking for someone and when they didn’t find him, they were not going to go home empty handed. To kill someone in the south would have been seen as an act of bravado when they got back to Belfast.”

He says that despite the fact the Gardai knew the identity of his uncle’s killers, the investigation just stopped in its tracks.

While some of family members initially believed that the IRA were to blame, he says that he himself suspected that it was either the SAS or loyalists.

“I had wondered if perhaps he heard or saw something in the woods, which would have been a plausible explanation.”

His suspicions were confirmed by journalist Joe Tiernan and it was then that the family began their long battle to establish how Seamus was killed.

“If it hadn’t been for the support of journalists like Joe and Ed Moloney and the local media, we would never have got as far as we have,” says Jimmy.

He is delighted that the report refutes once and for all the allegation that his uncle had been killed by the IRA as an informer.

“This was a rumour which was started by a Garda and Seamus wasn’t at all involved in politics although he did support Fine Gael,” he says.

Jimmy says that one thing which struck him when reading through the report was the detailed maps provided by two of the loyalists named as the suspects for his uncle’s murder.

“One of the maps in particular is very detailed and one can’t help wondering if the men were brought back to the area by the police at a later date.”

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The Argus (Dundalk), 11 Nobvember 2005:

Family’s call for a full public inquiry remains unchanged

The family of Seamus Ludlow, the 47 year old forestry worker who was murdered by loyalists just yards from his Thistle Cross home twenty-nine years ago, have welcomed the publication of the Barron Report.

However, nephew Jimmy Sharkey says that the family still want a full public inquiry into the Garda investigation of his murder.

He wants to know where the orders came from not to pursue information which the Gardai received from the RUC naming his uncle’s killers in 1977.

“While I see my uncle’s killing as being a fall-out from the Troubles in the North, what I find hard to understand is why there were the lies and cover-up for years,” says Jimmy. “It’s good to hear the former Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne saying that the buck would have to stop with senior management within the Gardai.”

In the report Mr. Justice Barron has said that it was “most probably that the then deputy Garda Commissioner Lawrence Wren made the decision not to follow up the information from the RUC. This, however, has been denied by Mr. Wren who has threatened “corrective action” to clear his name.

Jimmy says he is inclined to believe Mr. Wren and takes the view that the decision was “made higher up the chain, either at Ministerial or Cabinet level”.

He says that 99 per cent of the revelations in the report were already known by the family and feels that it will take a full public inquiry to disclose all the information regarding the cover-up to come to light.

“The report highlights how some Garda files have gone missing and it will take a public inquiry for the truth to come out.”

A Dail sub-committee is due to begin hearings in relation to the report in January and Jimmy says the family will be making the strongest possible case for a public inquiry.

“That is the bottom line for the family,” he states. “A public inquiry would have wide ranging powers and will be able to access files which haven’t been traced.”

The family feel that the confusion which surrounded the release of the report last week was typical of the way they have been treated over the years.

“We were told by our solicitor James MacGuill on Wednesday night at 9.30pm that he had got a phone call from the Taoiseach’s Department to say that the Barron Report was being sent to the Joint Oireactas Committee the next day and they would possible hold onto it before releasing it on Friday, so we were gearing ourselves towards that,” says Jimmy. “I then received a phone call from a journalist that night who informed me that it was being released the next day.”

The family decided to travel to Dublin on Thursday and Jimmy says he was at Whitehall when he received another phonecall from Mr. MacGuill saying he had been told the report was not being released.

“I decided to continue with my journey and met up with my uncle Kevin who had travelled from Cavan. He’s 70 and it’s not easy for him. We had decided that we would march over to the Dail if the report hadn’t been released.”

He says that the family are very pleased with the report.

“Mr. Justice Barron did a fantastic job and had to be commended. He was very meticulous in his work.”

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UTV news online, 3 November 2005: 'Barron report to be published', 3 November 2005: Ludlow murder was 'random sectarian killing' - Barron

The Argus (Dundalk weekly), 4 November 2005: Barron report into Ludlow murder due in few weeks

The Belfast Telegraph, 4 November 2005 (early print edition): More delays for Ludlow family

The Irish Independent, 4 November 2005: Ludlow family insists public inquiry is crucial to getting justice for their father

BBC News online: 4 November 2005: Call for public inquiry into 1976 murder

RTE News online, 4 November 2005: Wren rejects Barron report finding

The Irish Times, 4 November 2005: Ludlow report criticises Garda investigation

The Irish Independent, 4 November 2005: Ludlow family insists public inquiry is crucial to getting justice for their father

The Belfast Telegraph, 4 November 2005 Relatives of man killed by loyalists urge police action probe

The Irish Examiner - Editorial, 4 November 2005: Family needs a full-scale inquiry

Irish Daily Star, 4 November 2005: No result in death probe Gardai ignored RUC tip on loyalist killers of Louth man

The Belfast Telegraph, 5 November 2005: Loyalist named in Ludlow murder inquiry admits: I Was There But I Didn't Kill Him

The Belfast Telegraph, 5 November 2005: Ludlow Murder Witness Battles To Clear His Name

The News of the World, 6 November 2005: I'm no killer, says 'branded' UDA man Loyalist hits at Report

The Belfast Telegraph, 8 November 2005: Victims group questions report into loyalist killing

The Irish Times, 8 November 2005: Ludlow family seeks sworn public inquiry

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Revised: November 11, 2005 .