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

3 July 2002 - The Irish Attorney General has directed the Coroner for County Louth to hold a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow.  . . . . Please return for updates and important developments.





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  Chronology - Part 2


3 April 2000 - Linda Porra, of Irish Organisations United, in Massachusetts, in the United States, a new supporter of the Ludlow family's struggle for truth and justice, reports that she has written some eighteen letters on behalf of the Ludlow family's campaign. Linda has kindly placed a message on this site's guest book and she has placed a link to the Ludlow family's first site on her own website.

4 April 2000 - Linda Porra further reports that she has written an editorial on the Seamus Ludlow case. This editorial will be submitted to many newspapers around Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. A link to Linda's site can be found on this site's Links page.

7 April 2000 - Jim J. Kane, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, also an activist from Irish Organisations UnitedIrish Organisations United, reports that he and Linda Porra have sent letters to President Bill Clinton, Attorney General Janet Reno, Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Secretary of State Madeline Albright and to Senator Ted Kennedy in support of the Ludlow family's demands for truth and justice. Jim has also placed a message on this site's guest book. His efforts are deeply appreciated.

14 April 2000 - An interesting judgment was delivered in an unrelated case by Mrs. justice Denham, Irish Supreme Court, in an appeal arising from a High Court judgment of Mr. Justice P. Morris of 6 March 2000. The applicants had sought judicial review on that occasion of a ruling made on 8 February 2000 by Mr. Justice Flood, the Sole Member of the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments. 

While it is not the business of the Ludlow family campaign for truth and justice for Seamus Ludlow, or of this web site, to delve deeply into the murky details of the latest Dublin tribunal to investigate the questionable business ethics of certain business and political figures in the Irish state, there are elements in this ruling which may support the Ludlow family's demand for a public inquiry. 

Certain witnesses involved in the Flood Tribunal had sought leave to give evidence to the Tribunal in private, but Mr. Justice Flood ruled on 8 February:

"I believe in the light of my knowledge of the issues and the events which have occurred to date that it is appropriate that the witnesses in question be called before the Tribunal to give evidence on oath of the matters which are relevant to the Tribunal's inquiries. It has been urged upon me that in view of the private nature of the proposed inquiry touching as it does upon the expenditure of money and acquisition of assets by the parties that such inquiries should be conducted in private. The Tribunal of Inquiries Evidence Act specifically provides for the evidence to be heard in public unless it is expedient to the public interest that I sit in private. I do not believe that there are sufficient grounds open to me to conduct the intended examination of the witnesses in private in the public interest and accordingly I believe that the examination of the witnesses should proceed."

In her Supreme Court judgment of 14 April 2000, Mrs. Justice Denham argued:

"That the applicants have a constitutional right to privacy is beyond debate. It is equally well established that this is not an absolute right but one which must in certain circumstances be weighed against or balanced with the exigencies of the common good. Again, the common good may require that matters, resolved by democratically elected representatives in the Houses of the Oireachtas to be of urgent public importance, be inquired into by the tribunal. It is of the essence of such tribunals that the inquiries be held in public. If this is not done public disquiet, which lead to the appointment of the tribunal, could not be allayed. . . These principles were correctly analysed and applied by Mr. Justice Morris in the judgment under appeal. . .".

This Supreme Court ruling occurs in a case totally unrelated to the the case of Seamus Ludlow, which involves sectarian murder and a cover-up in the Irish state rather than the planning irregularities and unspecified bank accounts and payments for favours rendered which typify many recent scandals. However, it can be argued that the learned judges in this case could not have argued better the Ludlow family's case for a public inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow.

19 April 2000 - A new version of this site goes online for the first time. Web specialist Karl Winn and kindly registered the new domain name "" and donated space on their server for the Ludlow family free of charge. The Pat Finucane Centre in Derry has agreed to be named as the address for correspondence.

 24 April 2000 - The Belfast daily newspaper The Irish News, reported that the Dublin government:

"last night signalled its intention to push (British premier) Tony Blair for an independent public inquiry into the murder of Catholic man Robert Hamill.

"Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is now expected to demand a new investigation in the run-up to the third anniversary of Mr. Hamill's death on May 8.

"The father-of-three was attacked by a loyalist mob in Portadown as he walked home after a night out with friends on April 27 1997. He lost his battle against severe injuries 11 days later.

"Mr. Hamill's family last night welcomed the significant development in their quest to find the truth behind allegations that RUC officers on the scene failed to intervene to protect the 25-year-old."

According to the Irish News, a spokesman for the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs commented: "The government is giving the most serious consideration to calling for a public inquiry."

If this report proves to be well founded, then it is to be greatly applauded that Dublin should call for a public inquiry into the sectarian mob murder of Robert Hamill under the very noses of the RUC in Portadown. Mr. Hamill died several days after he was viciously assaulted, because he was a Catholic, by a loyalist mob as he and some companions walked home from a night out in Portadown. Armed RUC personnel, sitting only yards away in an armoured Land Rover, looked on and did nothing to save this innocent Catholic man's life.

Many questions remain regarding the murder of Robert Hamill and many many other Catholics in the Six Counties, and these questions certainly justify demands for public inquiries in the Six County jurisdiction. The Ludlow family supports all such demands.

Equally justified also, are calls made repeatedly by the Ludlow family in County Louth for public inquiries into the murder of Seamus Ludlow in May 1976. Given the Dublin authorities' failure to respond to this family's demands regarding a sectarian murder and cover-up in their own jurisdiction, it is to be feared that the British authorities will be less inclined to take Dublin's concerns seriously.

(For further information about the sectarian murder of Robert Hamill, and his family's campaign for justice, please note that there are links to several excellent sites on the Ludlow family's Links page. These include reports from Amnesty International and British Irish rights Watch)

25 April 2000 - It is reported that Mr. John Bruton, TD,  leader of Fine Gael, the main opposition party in Dublin, has added his support to calls for a public inquiry into the sectarian murder of Robert Hamill in Portadown. Again, this stance  is highly commendable, but, regretfully, it should be stated that Mr. Bruton wrote the following brief, and rather blunt, letter to a member of the Ludlow family on 2 September 1998:

"Thank you for your recent letter which I have read carefully.

"In view of your statement that the Garda investigation into this case is still continuing, I do not believe it would be appropriate for me to comment on this matter."

The leader of Fine Gael sent no expression of regret to the Ludlow family regarding their sad loss, nor did he acknowledge that the innocent victim of British Army and Loyalist gunmen was a dedicated member of his own Fine Gael party in County Louth. 

Mr. Bruton today leads the political party which led the coalition government that was in power in 1976. Fine Gael held power on occasions since then, throughout the period of the Garda cover-up, as also has Fianna Fail, the present party in government.

 Mr. Bruton has added very little to that brief statement of 2 September 1998. Thus the present day leader of Seamus Ludlow's own party appears to have nothing at all to say about this appalling murder in his own jurisdiction. 

The Ludlow family has yet to hear his call for a public inquiry into the murder of his own fellow Fine Gael member. Indeed, on 20 June, in reply to Jim J. Kane, of Irish Organizations United, Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA, Mr. Bruton makes his stand in favour of  an "independent private investigation into the Seamus Ludlow case as recommended by Mr. John Wilson to the Government."

2 May 2000 - In an interesting letter to Jimmy Sharkey, a member of the Ludlow family, Mr. Seamus Kirk, TD, Louth, reported:

"Further to ongoing contact regarding the Seamus Ludlow enquiry I have been in contact with the Office of the minister for Justice, Equality & law Reform, about the matter. They expect a date for commencement shortly."

Mr. Kirk was apparently hearing things that the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform was not yet prepared to share with the Ludlow family or its solicitor, who wrote to the Minister. 

10 May 2000 - In a letter to Mr. John O'Donoghue, TD, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Dublin, James MacGuill, the Ludlow family's solicitor referred to previous correspondence from the solicitor of 11th April, 7th March, 25th February, 3rd February, and 1st February, "none of which have received a substantive reply." The solicitor continued:

"Our clients were surprised to learn through a letter from Seamus Kirk TD, their constituency representative, that in the view of the Department the commencement date for an Inquiry into the Seamus Ludlow case is imminent. We were not aware of any such development and would be obliged if you would indicate the nature of the Inquiry that is to be announced. You will recall that it was suggested in your letter of the 31st January that this Inquiry might be suitable for the form of private Inquiry presently being conducted by the former Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Liam Hamilton. Our clients do not share that view but were prepared to reconsider the position in the light of a disclosure of the relevant Garda investigation file in the matter. That has not been disclosed and our clients position remains that a full public Inquiry is required in this case. You might note accordingly that our clients will not be participating in a private Inquiry as same is clearly inappropriate and that the one obstacle to a public Inquiry identified in the Victims Commissioner Report no longer applies.

"We would be grateful if you would let us have a reply to this letter, in comprehensive terms, as soon as possible."

23 May 2000 -  The following parliamentary question was asked about Seamus Ludlow by Mr. Quinn TD in Leinster House, Dublin. It is followed by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's reply:

Mr Quinn: . . . I understand representations have been made to the Government to have the terms of reference of Mr. Justice Hamilton's inquiry altered to include the killing of Mr. Seamus Ludlow. Is the Government giving consideration to that request? Will the matter be included in the terms of reference?

The Taoiseach:Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Mr. Justice Hamilton is putting in enormous work and time on the inquiry. My view is that the strategy jointly adopted on this matter will prove to be extremely useful, although it may not solve everything.

I met the relatives of Mr. Seamus Ludlow some time ago. Deputies will be aware I previously stated that the Government had accepted the Victims Commission's recommendation in the Seamus Ludlow case, but that consultations were to take place. The relatives have strong views and they are not yet satisfied that this is the best way to proceed. However, I remain strongly of the view that an examination of the case by the former Chief Justice is the best way forward and I continue to try to urge them in that regard.

As Deputy Quinn is aware, there are difficulties in the Seamus Ludlow case, including cross-jurisdictional issues. An added complication is that identifiable individuals were accused publicly in the case and the DPP in Northern Ireland, having considered evidence available there, decided not to prefer charges. This will make a public examination of the case difficult here. However, my view remains that an examination by the Chief Justice is the best way to proceed.

In this answer Mr. Ahern once again states that he has met the Ludlow family - when in fact no meeting has ever been granted with the family. 

Rather ominously, Mr. Ahern appears to be setting the scene for some future disappointment for the Ludlow family. He seems quite unable to present a hopeful opinion about the outcome of any inquiry into Seamus Ludlow's murder. Instead, he appears to present several possible arguments for no further progress. Further information about the Dundalk families' campaign can be accessed from the Ludlow family's Links page.

10 June 2000 - The local Dundalk Democrat newspaper reported that the victims of the 19 December 1975 bombing at Kay's Tavern public house, in Dundalk, have adopted a "wait and see" approach to the private Hamilton Inquiry. James McGuill, the solicitor for Maura McKeever and the Watters family, who both lost their fathers in that no-warning Loyalist bomb attack, spoke to the Democrat's  Anne Campbell about the current enquiry:

"At the minute we have adopted a wait and see approach to the enquiry which was announced by the department of Justice at the end of last year", said Mr. McGuill. "We would like to see a full, open, public enquiry into the murder of these two men", stated Maura.

At present there is a private enquiry into the Dublin/Monaghan Bombings, but it is not clear how deep the report, which is due for publication around November of this year, will go into the facts and the responsibility for the bombing.

"We are definitely not ruling out going into this enquiry, but would like to see what happens with this one first", said Mr. McGuill.

Maura McKeever is determined as ever to bring the perpetrators of her father's murder to justice. "We have waited a very long time just to get this far", she said. "It's not over yet. We just keep going until there is justice".

But James McGuill, Maura McKeever and the Watters family are not sitting back and waiting for things to happen. They are pushing the progress themselves. At present, they are speaking to people who were at the scene and near the town when the bomb went off on 19 December. They want to speak to anyone who was injured in the explosion, or saw anything, no matter how small, in the days and hours running up to the bombing. . . 

The Ludlow family wishes Maura McKeever and the Watters family full success in their search for truth and justice for the murder of their loved ones just six months before the murder of Seamus Ludlow. Both cases point to serious questions arising from the ease at which the Loyalist murder gangs could move freely through Dundalk at a time of intense Loyalist violence in the North and equally intense Gardai activity along the southern side of border. 

The inability, or unwillingness, of the Gardai to apprehend any of these Loyalist/British Army murderers, either at that time or during the quarter century that has now passed since then, must be examined at any public inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow and the Dundalk bombing just six months before. 

Update: The Rooney and Watters family's campaign for justice is now the subject of a new website at

14 June 2000 - Reported by the Belfast Irish News was a statement released the previous day by Justice for the Forgotten, the group representing most of the relatives of victims, deceased and survivors of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974. The statement, backed by the Ludlow family's Jimmy Sharkey and Kevin Ludlow, and representatives of other families affected by the murderous bombing of Dundalk in 1975, was in response to recent statements from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in which he supported pleas for public inquiries in the North, while he remained set against equally deserving demands in his own jurisdiction. The Irish News quoted the following from the statement:

"As victims of unsolved murders in this state related to the Northern Ireland conflict, we welcomed the taoiseach's recent call for an independent inquiry into the murder of Portadown man, Robert Hamill.

"We also welcome his support for the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and his call for inquiries into the murders of human rights lawyers, Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson," the statement read.

"However, their calls for public inquiries into atrocities committed outside this jurisdiction ring rather hollow when compared with their continued reluctance to hold public inquiries in this jurisdiction into the murder of our loved ones who died in equally tragic and controversial circumstances."

(For further information on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974, please go to the Ludlow family's Links page. See also links to information on the Dundalk bombing of 1975.)

14 June 2000 - Publication of the widely respected human rights organisation Amnesty International's (AI) Annual Report 2000. The full report can be accessed online.

This very detailed AI Report of global human rights issues refers briefly to Irish and UK issues including several cases of collusion between the British authorities and Loyalist murder gangs. The Ludlow family is delighted to see that Amnesty International has kept a close watch on developments in the Seamus Ludlow case and that AI's representatives have expressed strong support for the family's demands for a public inquiry.

 Many issues were discussed at a meeting  in June between the Irish Minister for Justice, Mr. John O'Donoghue, TD, and Amnesty International (AI) representatives. According to AI's Annual Report 2000, the issues raised at this meeting included:

asylum legislation; emergency legislation; procedures to examine complaints against the police; inquests; and inquiries into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the case of Seamus Ludlow. . .

The Amnesty International Annual Report 2000 continues:

Inquiries into alleged collusion
The government appointed the retiring Chief Justice, Liam Hamilton, to carry out a private, but independent, judicial inquiry into the bombings in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974, which killed 33 people and injured hundreds. Members of the Northern Ireland security forces' intelligence units allegedly colluded with the Ulster Volunteer Force, a Loyalist armed group, in the bombings. The inquiry would also examine the police investigation of the bombings, and the bombing of a pub in Dundalk in 1975. By the end of 1999, it was still not decided whether the inquiry would also examine the killing of Seamus Ludlow in 1976, and the alleged subsequent cover-up by both British and Irish authorities. Seamus Ludlow was killed in Ireland, reportedly by a Northern Irish Loyalist group, which included two soldiers.
The government stated that the inquiry's results would be published, and that a subsequent public inquiry remained possible. AI had called for public inquiries into these incidents.

Amnesty International also highlighted the murders of human rights lawyers Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson.

20 June 2000 - Mr. John Bruton TD, Leader of Fine Gael, replied to an e-mail message sent to him by Jim J. Kane, of Irish Organizations United, Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Dear Jim,
Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding the Seamus Ludlow case - you will note from the Oireachtas website ( that  I have had exchanges with the Taoiseach regarding this case on 8th December 1999 and on 29th September 1999.

Fine Gael supports independent private investigation into the Seamus Ludlow case as recommended by Mr. John Wilson to the Government.

John Bruton T.D.,
Leader of Fine Gael.

Nothing here is encouraging to the Ludlow family. Mr. Bruton fails once again to support the Ludlow family's call for a public inquiry. To make such a call would at least be consistent with his recent demand for a public inquiry north of the border in the Robert Hamill case.

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