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




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The Argus (Dundalk), 13 March 1998:

Can the long arm of the law be extended 22 years?

There was no doubting the fact that Seamus Ludlow, a 47-year-old forestry worker was killed 22 years ago because he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Having worked on the story at the time, and having reported on different aspects of the murder from time to time in the intervening years it was impossible not to conclude that Seamus Ludlow was a totally innocent man, involved in no organisation who happened to hitch a lift with the wrong people.

He had been on a night out in Dundalk on Saturday 1st May, 1976, had visited a number of pubs, the last being the Lisdoo Arms and was making his way to his home at Thistlecross where he lived with his elderly mother when he was picked up in a car and never seen alive again.

His body was found the following day on the road leading from Thistlecross to the Carlingford Road where it had been dumped in a ditch. He had been shot three times.

At the time there appeared to be no motive for the murder, even though was a particularly violent time in the North, but Mr Ludlow would not have been regarded as a target for any organisation.

Of course there was speculation, one theory being that as a forestry worker he discovered something that he shouldn't have seen in the forest where he worked and was murdered for his silence.

The Gardai encouraged the belief for many years that he was murdered by the IRA, but they made no statement of claim, and Mr Ludlow's family, while mystified like everyone else, didn't really subscribe to that view, believing as many others did that there was Loyalist involvement, or that British Army personnel, who were known to be involved in covert operations in the Republic at that time, were involved.

It now appears that the theory over Loyalist involvement was the most accurate.

A witness has now come forward who revealed that having been drinking with three others, one a captain in the UDR, another an officer in the regiment, in a bar in Comber when they decided to head south, drove into Omeath and then on to Dundalk where they picked up Mr Ludlow who was hitching a lift on the Newry Road.

While the witness was out of the car going to the toilet, he heard the shots which killed Mr Ludlow, his body dumped in a hedge.

The three involved were linked with the Red Hand Commando, and according to the witness, they threatened him not to reveal his experience.

But the witness now claims that he was questioned by the RUC in 1986 and revealed the names of those involved.

Nothing was done at the time, the witness claiming that the RUC told him "Forget it. It's political".

It now appears that the file on the case has been reopened by the RUC at the instigation of the Gardai and that the four involved, including the witness, have been questioned extensively.

Neither the Gardai or the RUC will confirm this, but files have been sent to the DPP in the north, and there is speculation that charges will follow.

If so it will be a relief to the Ludlow family and many in this area that the long arm of the law can stretch this far, for even after all this time that unsolved, brutal murder still burns in my mind having witnessed the body in the ditch soon after it was found, and it would be a great relief to see those responsible brought to justice.

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See Also:

The Dundalk Democrat, 8 May 1976: Mountpleasant man murdered in cold blood Grim discovery on a by-road

The Dundalk Democrat, 8 May 1976: A brutal murder

The Sunday Press, 9 May 1976: "Santa" NO CLUE Town is outraged.

The Sunday World (Southern edition), 9 May 1976: Death in a lovers' lane...Who killed Santa Claus Gardai call us in to help

The Sunday World (Southern edition), 9 May 1976 (Continued): The spot where Santa Claus died

The Irish Press, 10 May 1976: Murder probe: no link with the SAS Gardai issue denial

The Argus, 14 May 1976: Sympathy with murder victim

The Argus, 14 May 1976: Louth murder: Provo statement

The Dundalk Democrat, 15 May 1976: The Ludlow murder No fresh developments

The Irish Independent, 16 May 1976: Murder Victim Wrong Man?

The Sunday World, 16 May 1976: Mistaken identity theory in Santa Claus killing. He was the "double" of top Provo

The Argus, 27 August 1976: Inquest hears of North Louth shooting

Monaghan County of Intrigue (1979) by the late Michael Cunningham: Quoting from Mr. Cunningham's account of his private investigation of Seamus Ludlow's murder. 

The Argus, special report 30 August 1985: On May 1st 1974, a forestry worker left his home to go for a drink: the following day his bullet riddled body was found. Nine years later we ask: WHO KILLED SEAMUS LUDLOW?

The Irish Times, 3 May 1996: Call to reopen 1976 murder

The Dundalk Democrat, 4 May 1996: The Seamus Ludlow murder

The Dundalk Democrat,11 May 1996: New information on Ludlow murder

The Sunday Tribune, 8 March 1998: Ed Moloney The  killing of Seamus Ludlow: Northern Editor reports on how the RUC covered up the part played by members of the security forces in a loyalist gang murder in County Louth in 1976.

The Argus (Dundalk), 13 March 1998: Can the long arm of the law be extended 22 years?

The Sunday Tribune, 15 March 1998: Questions raised over Ludlow Murder.

The Sunday Tribune Editorial, 15 March 1998: Time for Ludlow Inquiry.

The Dundalk Democrat, 21 March 1998: Ludlow Murder - Nearer the Truth?

The Argus, 19 June 1998: Call for public inquiry into Ludlow murder

The Dundalk Democrat,  20 June 1998: Public enquiry called for into Ludlow murder

The Argus, 3 July 1998: Charges may help resolve a 22 year mystery File Prepared on Ludlow murder

The Sunday Life, 12 July 1998: Ludlow-murder family doubtful of justice

The Sunday World, 12 July 1998: Loyalist Suspects Held For 22-Year 'IRA' Killing

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