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.    This photograph of Seamus Ludlow was taken later in his life.This is a youthful photograph of Seamus Ludlow, taken several years before his murder.This memorial stone marks the place where the dead body of Seamus Ludlow was discovered on Sunday 2nd. May, 1976. This new stone recently replaced another stone.




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The Dundalk Democrat, 14 August 2004:

Dundalk families meet judge

 By Anne Marie Eaton and James Rogers

 Families of those who died and were injured in the 1975 Dundalk bombing and relatives of the murdered Seamus Ludlow have met with Justice Henry Barron for a second time.

Justice Barron is compiling reports into the 1975 bombing and the May 1976 murder of Mr Ludlow.

Maura McKeever, whose father Jack Rooney was one of the two bomb victims, was joined by Margaret Watters, daughter of Hugh Watters, for the meeting which lasted for over an hour.

The meeting was described by the families as "polite but frank".

Maura McKeever said: "Justice Barron was very polite but he said he couldn't answer some of our questions because he didn't want parts of his report getting into the public domain before it is published.

"He said he expected the report into our fathers' deaths to be ready at the end of this year. I really hope that happens."

In his book The Dublin/Monaghan Bombings and the Murder Triangle author Joe Tiernan named those who he believed were responsible for the Dundalk bombing.

Seamus Ludlow's brother Kevin and nephews Jimmy Sharkey and Michael Donegan met with Barron to discuss the report into Seamus' death.

Speaking after the meeting Jimmy Sharkey said that Justice Barron was realising just how much effort the families were putting into the investigations.

He said: "I think when we met him first time around, he expected to be dealing with a family who wouldn't know how to deal with such an investigation."

Justice Barron told the family that he had seen one of the bullets that had been used in the murder.

A second inquest into Seamus' death is expected to get under way in the coming months.

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The Dundalk Democrat, 14 August 2004:


Bomb victims families meet Judge Barron

Families of those who died or were injured in the 1975 Dundalk Bombing met with Justice Henry Barron this week to discuss his ongoing investigations into the tragedy.

The bombing at Kay's Tavern on Crowe Street on December 19 of that year, claimed the lives of Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters.

Mr Watters died instantly and Mr Rooney died a few days later from his injuries.

This week Maura McKeever a daughter of Jack Rooney said she was "cautiously pleased" with the meeting with Judge Barron.

The meeting which lasted over an hour and included Maura, along with Margaret English, a daughter of Hugh Watters, and Peter O'Connor, who was injured in the blast.

"It was difficult this time around to get everyone to attend as many were on holidays, but that's the way things go", Maura said.

This was the group's second meeting with Judge Baron and Maura said he was being more open this time around.

"He did say he was going to follow up a few things that we highlighted, and he also gave us some information that we weren't aware of, but he asked that we keep the information to ourselves until he published his report."

Judge Barron used the term "amnesia" to describe the difficulties he was having in interviewing some of the people involved in the 1975 investigations.

Maura said: "He did say that many of the people were replying to his questions with 'I don't know' or 'I can't remember'."

After almost 29 years fighting for justice, Maura said the families remain ever hopeful of some progress.

"I did feel better about this latest meeting with Judge Barron and we will be meeting him in in October.

"We have been told his report won't be completed until Christmas at the earliest, but we have waited this long and we'll wait a bit longer.

"After all these years, it's really a case of we'll believe it when we see it."

Maura also said that her family would like to see a new inquest held into her father's death.

She explained; "My father died, was buried, and an inquest opened and closed within two weeks.

"There is no way that the full information would have been available at the inquest.

"It's not like nowadays. Things would have been taken away for Forensic examination elsewhere and it would have taken some time to get the results back. Remember, there were no mobile phones or computers.

"How would an inquest held so soon after the bombing have all the relevant details."

Maura said she would like to see an inquest being held similar to the second Seamus Ludlow inquest due to get underway in the next few months.

She said: "We live in hope, in fact it is the constant hope that has kept us going all these years."

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The Dundalk Democrat,  14 August 2004:

NEWS SPECIAL: The Seamus Ludlow murder

Murder of Seamus Ludlow shocked the entire country

Special report

By Anne Marie Eaton

The murder of 47 year-old Forestry Worker, Seamus Ludlow shocked the town of Dundalk and country in May 1976.

On May 1, Seamus was hitching a lift to his Mountpleasant home after having a few drinks.

His body was discovered the following day on a ditch in a laneway close to his home. He had been shot three times.

His murder made national headlines and 2,500 people attended his funeral on May 5 1976.

From that day, despite obstacles, the Ludlow family have fought to find out what happened to Seamus.

Almost all the facts surrounding his abduction have come to light following an eye-witness to the murder, Paul Hosking speaking out in the press.

Hosking said that the murder was carried out by UDR men with links to the loyalist Red Hand Commandos

Hosking and the three men travelled in a yellow Datsun from Comber, eventually arrived in Dundalk and picked up Seamus.

Hosking said that Seamus told them they had driven past his house. The car turned into what is known as the Bog Road. As Hosking got out of the car and had his back turned, he heard gunshots. The man who had been in the front seat of the car was shooting into it.

Seamus' body was taken from the car and dumped in the ditch.

Four men were detained in Castlereagh in 1998, however the Director of Public Prosecutions in the North said no prosecutions should be issued.

It has since been confirmed that the four men questioned in relation to the murder were in Dundalk on that night and had plans to murder a particular person.

However, it is thought that Seamus' murder was a random act.

The Ludlow family say they now know that the identities of Seamus' killers was known to the Gardai and suppressed as far back as 1977, and again in 1979.

Over the years the Ludlows have met with high profile figures both North and South and have cooperated with Garda and state investigations.

But despite the information uncovered no charges have been made and no public inquiry has been carried out.

A second inquest into Seamus' death is expected to open in September.

County Coroner Ronan Maguire has spent almost two years gathering the necessary information.

Former Supreme Court Judge Henry Barron is also compiling a report into Seamus' murder and only last week met with the Ludlow family for a second time.

Seamus' nephew Jimmy Sharkey said this week that he feels that Judge Barron has been surprised by just how much the family have been able to uncover themselves.

"I think when we met him first time around, he expected to be dealing with a family who wouldn't know how to deal with such an investigation and had probably sat back for the past 28 years and heard nothing.

"But at our last meeting when we were asking him difficult questions and were telling him things he hadn't heard, he told us 'you've a lot of sources'."

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The Dundalk Democrat 14 August 204:

Original inquest deemed sloppy work

By Anne Marie Eaton

On the matter of the original inquest into Seamus' death, Judge Barron said he found it to be "sloppy police work".

The family were also shocked to hear that a report on Seamus' murder compiled in the late 1990s is actually made up of five separate reports.

County Coroner Ronan Maguire is to open a second inquest in the coming months. The decision to hold a second inquest was taken by the Attorney General in 2002.

The first inquest took place on August 19 1976. No member of Seamus' family was present for the hearing.

Although his brother Kevin had identified Seamus' remains and a proposed deposition had been prepared, Kevin was not present at the inquest and on his deposition, the then County Coroner Thomas Edward Scully noted "not in attendance. Away on holiday - just back. Working in Newry. Could not be contacted."

What had happened was that a member of the Gardai had called to Kevin's home in Cox's Demesne only 45 minutes before the inquest, but because he was working in Newry, there was no way he could  make it back to Dundalk in time. The family insists he had not been on holiday as was suggested.

Also the family says no attempt was made by Gardai to notify Seamus' sister, Mrs Nan Sharkey, with whom he had lived.

Detective Sergeant Gannon a letter to Mrs Sharkey's solicitors in 1997 and also quoted in a British Irish Rights Watch Report into Seamus' death admits: "In relation to the inquest, I wish to state that a member attached to Dundalk Station, had at the time, been given the task of notifying witnesses and family of the inquest, but it appeared he overlooked your client. I only became aware of this on the date of the inquest and did everything I could to correct the situation."

In getting information to the family, Judge Barron has said that the gardai were lax. Shocked by what he said, Jimmy Sharkey said that he found the comments very dismissive: "I can't understand him simply saying the Gardai were lax. Seamus' brother Kevin was informed 45 minutes before the inquest. Lax is an understatement.

"They isolated certain members of the family, and fed them fabricated information. Kevin was one of them.

"But thankfully other members of the family knew this but they kept the family away from the inquest, which had no ballistics or forensics."

The recent news that County Coroner Ronan Maguire is to see the Murphy Report compiled by Supt. Ted Murphy, now retired, has been welcomed with a word of warning by Judge Barron, Jimmy said.

"We said that the Murphy report was to be released to the coroner but Barron told us to look carefully as there is not one Murphy report but five Murphy reports. One is a main report. Another deals with the garda case, another with the family and there also two smaller reports."

Supt. Murphy met with Seamus' family on a number of occasions during the compiling of his report and, Jimmy says, he is an honourable man. However, they did not get to see the completed report and are hoping to see it when it is released to the coroner.

Judge Barron did meet with Supt. Murphy, and he told the family that the superintendent admitted that the Ludlow family were treated badly.

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The Dundalk Democrat, 14 August 2004:

Upset at judge's reluctance to criticise investigation

Whilst Judge Barron said that the Gardai he had spoken to in relation to the case appeared to have "selective amnesia" he did defend the authorities regarding the manner in which investigations were carried out.

In the course of his investigation Judge Barron met with =25 Gardai and is reported to have told the Ludlow family that only one of them had been of any help.

Jimmy Sharkey, the murdered man's nephew, explained: "In his own words he told us 'they seem to have selective amnesia'.

However, Jimmy says the family were not happy in the way he brushed off the behaviour of the Gardai at the time.

"That's the way things were done then," he said.

He stood by his opinion even after the family informed him that steps had been taken to pit brother against brother.

Jimmy said: "He told us that hew felt the original garda investigations were thorough and frank investigations.

"I replied that if that's the way he was thinking, why was the investigation suspended without anyone being told.

"He took the scenic route with his answer, but basically meant this is the way things were done then.

"He had the same reply as regards the behaviour of the Gardai towards our family.

"When I told him my father, John, along with my uncle Tommy Fox and several other members of the family were accused of being involved in Seamus' murder he said he didn't know that, but at the same time I don't think he found it to be an issue."

Jimmy said the family are angry that this was not found to be a major flaw.

"We accept that in a murder case the family can be suspects until investigations are progressed, but the authorities didn't have to go out and slander our names."

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The Dundalk Democrat, 14 August 2004:

Barron held bullet in hand

Judge Barron has told the family that he held one of the bullets used in the murder of Seamus Ludlow and said two other bullets could be elsewhere.

The news that bullets are still in existence may open the possibility of the family eventually seeking to carry out their own forensic examination.

Jimmy Sharkey says the Judge also had a new revelation about what happened to the bullets.

"He told us that all three bullets had been sent North in 1979, photographed and sent back. This was in total conflict with what we've been told. We had thought that two bullets had been sent North and hadn't been sent back."

Earlier this year Coroner Ronan Maguire said he had received information that the bullets were still in existence. At the time, he said: "Gardai do have the bullets in their possession."

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The Irish Daily Star (Northern Edition), 23 July 2004: Gardai in murder case 'cover-up' Family claims Barron probe will reveal it

The Irish News, 29 July 2004 Southern News Coroner awaiting gardai findings in murder case 

Report on Ludlow murder ready ‘in autumn’

The Dundalk Democrat, 07 August 2004: Family to see Ludlow murder file for first time