Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence
and Women's Rights
Sub-Committee on the Barron Report on the
Murder of Seamus Ludlow
At the Joint Oireachtas Sub-Committee
Members of the Ludlow family leaving the first session of the
Joint Oireachtas sub-committee on 24 January 2006.
hearings of the Joint Oireachtas sub-committee on Justice's inquiry into
the recently published Barron Report into the 1976 murder of Seamus
Ludlow commenced on 24 January 2006 with submissions from several
members of the extended Ludlow family and their solicitor James McGuill,
Dundalk. (See links to their submissions below).
In the afternoon session
on 24 January important submissions were also made by Justice
for the Forgotten and British Irish
Oireachtas sub-committee sessions continued the following week on 31
January and 1 February, with important evidence taken from retired
Gardai and former politicians, as well as the current Garda
Commissioner. (See the Hearings Schedule
Members of the Ludlow family
were present at all seven sessions
Ludlow family makes submissions before the Oireachtas sub-committee on
Ludlow family had long waited on this opportunity to go before the Oirreachtas
on the Barron Report on the
Murder of Seamus Ludlow to assist the sub-committee in its important
work. It also provided the opportunity for the Ludlow family to restate
their undimmed demand for a public inquiry into their deceased
relative's foul murder and the gardai's failure over thirty years to go
after his loyalist killers, who have been known since 1979!
The Oireachtas sub-committee hearings afforded an opportunity to comment
on the recently published Barron Report which has left many crucial
questions central to the Ludlow family's concerns still unanswered. Mr
Justice Barron did as well as he could given the remit he operated
within! Given that the Oireachtas sub-committee operates with similar
restrictions it, also, will be unable to find the answers that only a
full public inquiry can deliver!
The private Barron Inquiry process was unable to get the answers because
it lacked the powers to ensure that important witnesses had to give full
and frank cooperation. Witnesses could refuse to cooperate and documents
could in theory be withheld! Certainly, the British authorities in the
North refused any meaningful cooperation with Mr Justice Barron, and
many documents in gardai and Departmnent of Justice files are said to be
"lost"! Similarly, important forensics evidence in garda
custody - bullets, clothing and fingerprint evidence - has reportedly
been mislaid. The Barron Report can offer no explanation! This is simply
Furthermore, Mr Justice Barron's private inquiry offered no opportunity
to the Ludlow family to view the evidence he heard, denying them the
opportunity to assist him by pointing to inconsistencies and other
shortcomings in the information he heard.
The inability of Mr Justice Barron to secure vital documents and to
subpoena witnesses who could be questioned and cross-examined under oath
severely hampered his inquiry. He was unable to get to the bottom of the
garda failure to go after the suspected loyalist and UDR killers of
Seamus Ludlow when they were identified to them in 1979. No satisfactory
reason could be found for this failure and those responsible - whoever
they are - have yet come forth with explanations.
Similarly, no explanation has been found for the failure to have the
Ludlow family informed of the date and time of the original inquest in
August 1976. The Ludlow family's claims of garda lies over more than
twenty years - that Seamus Ludlow was murdered by the IRA and that
family members were involved - have not been proved or disproved! The
liars remain determined to deny everything!
The Ludlow family welcomed the opportunity provided by the open
hearings before the Oireachtas sub-committee in its deliberations on the
Barron Report as a chance to state publicly their dissatisfaction with
the private inquiry process. It was also a chance to plead forcefully in
front of the sub-committee for a public inquiry.
this first open session of the Oireachtas sub-committee's examination of
the Barron Report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow was not broadcast on live TV, though every minute of it
Several members of the Ludlow family circle, including
Seamus Ludlow's only surviving brother Kevin, and two of his three
sisters, Mrs Nan Sharkey and Mrs Eileen Fox, travelled to Dublin on 24
January 2006, to make
submissions and answer questions before the Joint Oireachtas Justice sub-committee.
Also present were Jimmy Sharkey, Brendan Ludlow, Nicholas Sharkey and
Michael Donegan, and Mrs Briege Doyle, nephews and niece of the late
third sister, Mrs Kathleen Donegan, was unable to travel. Even so, her son
Michael was there to tell the tale of how she was visited at her home in
south Armagh by
British soldiers who set out to establish as fact the false claim that
her murdered brother was an informer and that he was killed by the IRA.
The sub-committee also heard how her late husband Kevin Donegan was
abducted by the British Army from Forkhill RUC barracks and airlifted to
Bessbrook Mill, where he was interrogated by a British military
intelligence officer about the gardai's line of inquiry!
In his opening
remarks the Sub-Committee Chairman Mr Sean Ardagh TD, commented on the
failure of the British military authorities to cooperate with Mr Justice
Barron in the preparation of his report, including their failure to
assist in his queries regarding the abduction of Kevin Donegan.
Ludlow family members present individually made personal submissions and
answered committee members' queries regarding their own experiences from
the aftermath of Seamus Ludlow's foul murder, including their
recollections of being lied to by individual gardai regarding the
perpetrators of this killing.
mentioned was the still-unexplained failure of gardai to ensure that the
Ludlow family was given sufficient notice of the date and time for the
original inquest into Seamus Ludlow's death on 19 August 1976, and also
the fact that the inquest went ahead in their absence!
Ludlow family solicitor James McGuill, said:
has been an appalling three decades of experience of how an ordinary
law-abiding family found themselves in a set of completely life-changing
circumstances which was compounded by the state authorities they had to
Ludlow relatives accused the gardai of mounting a thirty-year cover-up
following the murder of Seamus on 2 May 1976, by a four-man loyalist death
squad. They renewed their calls for a public inquiry into the murder and
the subsequent failure of the gardai to go after the killers. It was
pointed out that the Oireachtas sub-committee, suffering limitations
similar to those that held Mr Justice Barron back, will be unable to find
late Seamus Ludlow's nephew Jimmy Sharkey told the oireachtas
The Barron Report left a lot of unanswered questions.
The forum for these to be addressed is an independent public inquiry. It
is the bottom line for us. Nothing less, Nothing more.
urged the members of the Oireachtas sub-committee to recommend that the
Government give a new inquiry the power to compel witnesses to attend
and to secure all necessary documents. "We don't want a long
drawn-out inquiry like Saville (into Bloody Sunday). We'd be happy with
an independent inquiry that got thongs done quickly," he said.
to the questions left unanswered by the Barron Report, like why the
gardai didn't act when they were given the suspected killers' names by
the RUC in 1979, Jimmy continued: "We want to find out where the
buck stops. Seamus' case was handed around the gardai like a hot
also believe there are documents still existing that were never given to
Barron. An inquiry would need the power to get access to those. We
finaly want to know what really happened.
Ludlow, making an emotional submission, said the family had still not received an apology from the gardai
who lied to the family repeatedly over many years; falsely claiming that
his late brother Seamus had been killed by the IRA - and by implication
that he was an informer. They had also smeared a member of the Ludlow
family as being involved in this brutal murder.
a shame to think of the way the gardai acted. We were treated very badly.
Nothing only lies from the gardai. We shouldn't
have to go through all of this for 30 years. . .It wasn't fair what was
done to us. They were covering up the whole thing all the time.
long-overdue apology was finally issued by the Garda Commissioner Noel
Conroy at the third day of the sub-committee hearings on 1 February. As The
Irish Independent (2 February) notes:
Commissioner Noel Conroy has apologised to the family of the late Seamus
Ludlow for the failure of the force in the investigation of Mr Ludlow's
murder almost 30 years ago.
also apologised for the failure of the gardai to notify relatives about
the inquest into his death.
regret very much that we did not bring this case to a satisfactory
conclusion and the management of the gardai feel the same way," the
Conroy kindly followed this public statement with a private word with
members of the Ludlow family present when the oireachtas sub-committee
session had ended. While the apology was deeply appreciated, it was felt
that it should have been made long ago by Mr Conroy's predecessors!
Remember, gardai had admitted privately to the existence of an RUC file
from 1979 with the names of four loyalist suspects as far back as 1998, yet no
apology for the cruel lies told for more than twenty years was
open sessions of the first day of the Oireachtas sub-committee continued in the afternoon
with further submissions from Justice for the Forgotten and from Jane
Winter, Director of the London-based human rights body British Irish
Rights Watch. Their submissions can be viewed on the official transcript
which is available to download in Word format from the Oireachtas
website at the web address given below.
transcript of this first open hearing of the Justice sub-committee can be
downloaded in Word file format from the Oireachtas website at: http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/committees29thdail/jcjedwr/first-Ludlow-debates.doc
Top See the Hearings Schedule
below to read the Ludlow family submissions.