The Dundalk Bombing Campaign's Links
To Other Bereaved Families' Search For Truth And Justice.
The Watters and Rooney families,
relatives of the murdered victims of the Loyalist car bombing of Kay's
Tavern, in Dundalk, are encouraged by the strides being made by the Ludlow
family of Mountpleasant, just north of Dundalk, and others in the border
area, and beyond, who are also searching for truth and justice in their
own individual cases.
Ludlow (photographed above, centre) was just one of many forgotten
victims of the sectarian Loyalist murder campaign in the border area
during the 1970s and his family has shared the Rooney and Watters
families' sense of abandonment at the hands of the Gardai and a state that
seemed to look the other way.
Since his foul murder by Red Hand
Commando and Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) killers on 2nd. May 1976, the
Ludlow family uniquely had to endure the added pain of a smear campaign
that blackened the good name of the innocent victim. Of all the victims of
Loyalists in the border area only Seamus Ludlow was falsely dismissed as
an informer. Only Seamus Ludlow was falsely alleged to be a victim of the
The families of many victims of Loyalist
murder gangs during the 1970s in the border area are now organising under
the banner of the Border Relatives Group and are helping each
other. Also present was journalist Joe Tiernan, whose book on the Loyalist
murder gangs in the border area was published in December 2003 .
The launch of the Border Relatives Group. Among those present were
relatives of Seamus Ludlow, Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters. Joe
Tiernan sits at extreme left.
The Border Relatives Group was launched in Dublin
in October 1999. It was a timely coming together of five families of
victims of Loyalist attacks along the border, mainly in Louth and
Monaghan, throughout the 1970s. The attacks, in which four people died and
34 people were injured, were carried out by known Loyalists from Down and
Armagh, none of whom have ever been charged.
The Border Relatives Group announced that it
would work closely with Justice for the Forgotten, the group
representing the relatives of victims and the survivors of the Dublin and
Monaghan bombings of 1974.
While the new group welcomed the Dublin authorities'
interest and cooperation with various families, they had reservations
about the prospect of the private Hamilton inquiry that had recently been
announced in relation to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
Speaking at the new group's press conference were Maura
McKeever, Gerard Watters, Jimmy Sharkey, Anna McEnaneney, and Peter
O'Connor, all of whom had lost relatives to the Loyalists' attacks. Also
present was a journalist, who had done so much to help unmask the Garda
conspiracy to cover-up the true facts about the murder of Seamus Ludlow in
Many of these cases are coming to the fore once more,
particularly since recent revelations from a former RUC Special Branch
Detective Sergeant John Weir who was imprisoned for his part in the
sectarian murder of William Strathearn at Aghoghill, County Antrim, in
Weir has revealed the existence of a conspiracy within
the RUC, which enabled members of that force and the UDR to collude and
participate with UVF killers, led by the infamous "Jackal" Robin
Jackson, now deceased, from the Portadown area in murderous sectarian gun
and bomb attacks along the border and as far south as Dublin.
John Weir is alleging the presence or active
participation of named RUC and UDR personnel at many Loyalist attacks
during the 1970s, and none of the perpetrators have ever been brought to
justice for any of these crimes. His list of attacks includes:
The Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974,
when 33 people were killed and many others seriously injured,
involved at least one serving RUC officer whose home was used for
assembling the bombs, and the explosives were supplied by a member
of the Ulster Defence Regiment, who had links to British Military
The murder of two Gaelic football supporters at
Tullyvallen, near Newtownhamilton, County Armagh, in August 1975.
A gun and bomb attack at Donnelly's Bar,
Silverbridge, County Armagh, on 19 December, 1975, which killed
three people: Michael Donnelly, the bar owner's fourteen-year-old
son; and two customers, Patrick Donnelly (aged 24) and Trevor
Bracknell (aged 32). Several others were seriously injured,
including one woman who was shot in the head and a man who was shot
in the back.
On the same night as the Silverbridge attack a car
bomb exploded outside Kay's Tavern, in Dundalk, killing two men and
injuring several more. The dead were Hugh Watters and Jack
The 4 January 1976 shooting of the three Reavey
brothers at Whitecross, John Martin (aged 24), Brian (aged 22) who
both died instantly, and Anthony (aged 17) who died from his
injuries on 30 January 1976.
A car bomb explosion at Castleblaney on 7 March
1976, in which Patrick Mohan, a farmer, was killed as he stepped out
of his own vehicle.
Though the murder of Seamus Ludlow on 2 May 1976 does
not appear in the former RUC detective sergeant's list of sectarian
attacks along the border (those that he and his colleagues are alleged to
have been involved in), it is clear that the Ludlow murder has many points
in common with the above.
At least two of the alleged perpetrators of Seamus
Ludlow's murder were serving member's of the UDR and a third is alleged to
have been an agent, perhaps for RUC Special Branch. Similarly, no person
has ever been brought to justice for the Ludlow murder, even though prime
suspects were identified many years ago.
Links established between the Rooney, Watters and Ludlow
families and other families who lost loved ones to Loyalist murder gangs
on both sides of the border did not wither during the months following the
foundation of the Border Relatives Group. Indeed, efforts to
establish truth and justice were intensified.
An important act of solidarity between the Watters,
Rooney and Ludlow families and other relatives' groups occurred on 13 June
2000, when they supported the issuing of a joint press statement
by Justice for the Forgotten, the group that represents most of the
survivors and victims' families of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
The previous week Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had called for
an independent public inquiry into the sectarian mob murder of Robert
Hamill in Portadown, a crime that was committed under the very noses of an
RUC patrol that sat close by and did absolutely nothing to save the
innocent nationalist victim's life. On 8 June, when interviewed by RTE's Morning
Ireland, former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds supported Mr. Ahern's call,
expressing also the need for a process of public accountability that was
open and transparent and expressed concern that no inquest would be held
into the Hamill murder.
The joint statement issued on behalf of the Dublin
bombing campaigns (of 1972, 1973 and 1974), the Dundalk bombing campaign
and the Ludlow family campaign, welcomed the Taoiseach's call for public
inquiries into the murders of Robert Hamill, and the eminent human rights
lawyers Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, as well as his support for the
ongoing Bloody Sunday Saville Inquiry.
The joint statement (signed by Maura McKeever and
Margaret English on behalf of the Rooney and Watters families) also
welcomed Mr. Reynolds' remarks, but, it continued:
"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 murders of our loved ones who died in equally
tragic and controversial circumstances".
The joint statement went on to ask the media to
"challenge the Taoiseach and all politicians who express support for
inquiries outside this jurisdiction to account for the glaring anomaly of
their failure to address the demands of victims in this State."
Almost a year after the foundation of the Border
Relatives Group, at a meeting in Crossmaglen, organised by the
Derry-based Pat Finucane Centre (PFC),
victims' relatives and survivors of several attacks gathered again to hear
of dramatic new evidence of state collusion in at least 32 attacks
involving 87 murders (including 2 pregnant women) on both sides of the
border. There have been no convictions in 22 of the cases.
The meeting, attended by Maura McKeever (representing
the Rooney family) and Jimmy Sharkey (representing the Ludlow family),
heard Paul O'Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre, reveal that a senior
serving RUC officer - a chief superintendent - who worked in the
area at the time had come forward and had met with the Silverbridge
families on several occasions. The officer was a member of the RUC's
Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in south Armagh and he was based
in Newry at that time.
Paul O'Connor claimed that the senior officer had
confirmed the Silverbridge families' suspicions by saying that he believed
"security force" members were directly involved in that attack -
but could not be charged due to the lack of evidence. This revelation
corroborates the above mentioned statement that was previously made by
former RUC member John Weir.
It should also be remembered that, according to Mr.
Weir, this was the same gang that was responsible for the murderous car
bombing of the Kay's Tavern public house, at Crowe Street, Dundalk, which
killed Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters, and injured many others, in Dundalk
that same evening.
It is now alleged that the senior RUC officer has
suggested that "permutations of the same gang" were suspected of
involvement in a series of other killings in the area during the same
period, again confirming the evidence supplied by John Weir.
For further information on this Pat Finucane Centre
meeting at Crossmaglen, and the Centre's research into this gang's
activities, please visit the following page on the PFC website:
"Collusion in the south Armagh-mid Ulster area during the
This new page delves deeper into allegations of
British Army and RUC involvement in loyalist gun and bomb attacks during
the 1970s - including the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings and
Silverbridge. The new page also includes an extensive article from the Irish
News, Monday 16 October 2000.
See also Alleged
Collusion on this site.