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Justice at last for the forgotten victims of sectarian murder in Dundalk


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Tragedy Recalled


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25 Years On.

Alleged Collusion

Magill Magazine article Sept. 2002

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Print this page. Download the Barron Report (pdf file) on the Dundalk bombing

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Download the Oireachtas Report on the Dundalk bombing and other collusion attacks

"We have waited a very long time just to get this far. It's not over yet. We will keep going until there is justice" 

- Maura McKeever, daughter of the late Jack Rooney

Photograph:The late Mr. Jack Rooney, a council worker, aged 60, who was murdered by the loyalist bombing of Dundalk, 19 December 1975. Seamus Ludlow (47), Thistlecross, Mountpleasant, who was shot dead by Loyalists near Dundalk on 2 May 1976. Photograph: The late Mr. Hugh Watters, a self-employed tailor, aged 60, who was murdered by the loyalist bombing of Dundalk, 19 December 1975.


"My father led a quiet life, but I will speak out for justice for him."

- Margaret English, daughter of the late Hugh Watters.

Collusion Claims Vindicated by the European Court.

Here is further information about the sensational judgment of the European Court at Strasbourg which has found againsat the British government and the RUC and vindicated the relatives of eight victims of collusion in the border area during the 1970s. 

The RUC did not properly investigate collusion even though there were claims that members of the UDR and the RUC itself were actively involved in the sectarian killings on both sides of the border, including the bombing of Dundalk which left Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters dead. 

The relatives want the British government to admit that members of their security forces were part of it. The families said they want to meet the Public Prosecution Service to find out why members of the gang were not prosecuted despite their identities being known as far back as 1978.

Our information below consists of a news report from the Irish American Information Service dated 29 November 2007, and statements from Madden and Finucane Solicitors, Belfast and from the Pat Finucane Centre, both dated 28 November 2007.

Britain can no longer stand back and remain silent about these allegations which in the course of 2007 have been vindicated by an Oireachtas Committee in Dublin, by an international tribunal of inquiry working with the Pat Finucane Centre, and now by no less an august body than the European Court of Human Rights. 

Britain must launch a full-scale inquiry into all these activities, including the murders of Jack Rooney, Hugh Watters and Seamus Ludlow in Dundalk.

 The truth must finally be told and the guilty must be identified, no matter how high up the evidence leads.Britain must admit to its role in collusion and must take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that such crimes can never happen again

The Irish-American Informatioin Service

2007-11-29 10:11:00.0 EST

The families of eight Irish men murdered in the 1970s who
said the Royal Ulster Constabulary did not properly examine
British security force involvement claims have said they
have been vindicated.

On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights said alleged
security force collusion in the murders was not properly

Eugene Reavey, whose three brothers were shot dead in 1976,
said there should be a fresh investigation.

"If I was to borrow a catchphrase from Margaret Thatcher
'murder, is murder, is murder'," he said.

"My three brothers were brutally murdered by members of the
security forces and a loyalist gang and I call on the chief
constable to do something about it."

The collusion claim was made by a former RUC officer, John
Weir, on a television program.

He said a farmhouse owned by another police officer was used
as a base from which to carry out a series of murders.

Weir is a former RUC sergeant, convicted for the murder of
Catholic shopkeeper William Strathearn in April 1977.

Eight years ago, he claimed to have been a member of the
loyalist gang which carried out these and other murders. He
said the gang consisted of members of the RUC, Ulster
Defense Regiment and the loyalist paramilitary Ulster
Volunteer Force terror group.

The RUC launched an investigation, but did not interview
Weir, who now lives in Africa, as he was said not to be a
'credible witness'.

The relatives say their cases account for just a fraction of
the killings carried out by the gang - and they want the
British government to admit that members of their security
forces were part of it.

The families said they want to meet the Public Prosecution
Service to find out why members of the gang were not
prosecuted despite their identities being known as far back
as 1978.

Alan Bracknell - whose father was shot dead in 1975 - said
it could not be the end of the matter.

"There does need to be a proper independent investigation of
John Weir's allegations," he said.

Press Release on behalf of Madden & Finucane Solicitors


The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg today gave judgment in favour of the families of eight men who were murdered by a Loyalist murder gang in the South Armagh area in the mid 1970’s.

The cases were taken to Strasbourg following the failure of the British Government to properly investigate detailed allegations made by a former member of the RUC, John Weir, about security force collusion.

The families’ legal representative, Fearghal Shiels, of Madden & Finucane, Solicitors, Belfast said:

"In 1999, the RUC purported to conduct a police investigation into John Weir’s allegations. The RUC took no steps to interview John Weir, and irrespective of the cogent and credible evidence of widespread collusion by members of UDR and RUC with a loyalist murder gang based in Mid-Ulster, concluded that his allegations were false.

Today's findings by the European Court of Human Rights that the families’ human rights were breached by the UK Government vindicates the families’ central contention that there was a total lack of independence, transparency and accountability on the part of the RUC, in investigating the activities of this murder gang."

The cases related to the deaths of Colm McCartney, who was murdered at Altnamackin in August 1975; Trevor Brecknell, who was murdered at Donnelly’s Bar, Silverbridge in December 1975; John, Brian and Anthony Reavey, murdered at Whitecross and Joseph, Barry and Declan O’Dowd murdered near Gilford on the same evening as the Reavey brothers in January 1976 and the wounding of Michael McGrath in a gun attack at the Rock Bar, Keady in June 1976.

The families are today arranging to meet with their solicitors to discuss the important implications of the ruling.


See below statement from Alan Brecknell at the Pat Finucane Centre press conference in Belfast:

Press Statement on behalf of those ‘Murder Triangle’ families affected by the European Court judgment.

28 November 2007

We welcome yesterday’s judgement at the European Court of Human Rights which found that there had been a breach of Article 2 of the Human Rights Convention in respect of those cases where we lost family members and/or were shot and injured as was the case with Barney O’Dowd who is with us today and Mick Mc Grath who is also with us.

In 1999 John Weir, a former RUC Sgt and SPG member, made a number of alarming allegations concerning the activities of a Glenanne based loyalist gang made up, he said, of UVF, members of the RUC Special Patrol Group and UDR soldiers from mid Ulster. State agents such as Robin Jackson, the Jackal, played a central role in this gang and their activities were known of and tolerated at a senior level within security and NIO circles. A number of the gun and bomb attacks carried out by this group were directed by agents working to Special Branch and Army Intelligence. As a result of this I began to research the Glenanne gang and the Murder Triangle under the auspices of the Pat Finucane Centre.

The following can be stated as fact ;

At least 120 people died as result of the activities of this wider group;

The dead included Irish and British citizens (such as my Birmingham born father),

Catholics and Protestants on both sides of the border and Italian and French nationals in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and perhaps saddest of all- three families lost both parents in savage gun attacks carried out by gang members which include state agents and members of the security forces. This goes to the heart of our concerns over the years-the Court has found that the RUC response to Weirs 1999 allegations were a violation of Article 2 –two final points should be made before opening the floor to questions-John Weir was and is probably the single most significant whistleblower to have emerged in the past 37 years. Yet ongoing attempts were made to dismiss his allegations by dismissing John Weir. I have met him on a number of occasions. I have accompanied him to meetings with the HET. He is a credible witness though no doubt he has much more to contribute in a different legal context. This is what the European Court had to say about John Weir.

‘… the Court notes, first, that the allegations made by Weir were serious, involving security force collusion in systematic targetting of innocent civilians and that they were, prima facie, plausible, deriving from a source who had been involved in such incidents and giving concrete details…’

The final point I would like to make is this,

Credible and convincing evidence of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries has emerged in the recent past-the Glenanne case is, in its way unique. The facts, not the allegations of Glenanne, are that members of the RUC,UDR and security service agents were DIRECTLY involved in murders and bombings. There are relatives at this press conference today who have had official confirmation that police officers, soldiers and agents were the main suspects in these attacks. Gradually the truth is emerging. This judgement has vindicated the families. I leave you with one question. Months ago we asked the Director of the Public Prosecution Service for a meeting with families to explain the actions of that key institution in the cover-up that was the Rock Bar trial and the dropping of charges. Will the Director now meet with us?


McGrath v UK:

McCartney v UK:

O'Dowd v UK:

Brecknell v UK:

Reavey v UK:

European Court of Human Rights Press release issued by the Registrar 27.11.2007: Five Chamber Judgements concerning Northern Ireland

European & Domestic Courts

Produced in association with the Ludlow Family.

Last edited: 23 December 2007 16:10:20

 Visit the Ludlow family's websiteVisit Justice for the Forgotten  Statement by John Oliver Weir

Download the Barron Report (pdf file) on the Dundalk bombing.

Download the Barron Inquiry Report into the 17 May 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, (pdf file)

Barron Report: on the Dublin Bombings of 1972 and 1973, can also be downloaded in pdf form

Download the Barron Report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow from the Oireachtas website (pdf file)

Copyright © 2007 the Rooney, Watters and Ludlow families. All rights reserved. Revised: December 23, 2007 .