The Murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth, May 1976. Towards a public inquiry?
Introduction to the murder of Seamus Ludlow and the official cover-up.
The recent Campaign for Truth and Justice.
Other Ludlow Family Sites.
The Dundalk Democrat, 21 March 1998.
Ludlow Murder - Nearer the Truth?
On the 2nd May 1976, the lives of the Ludlow family were changed forever when the body of 47 year old Seamus Ludlow was discovered down a lane close to his home. He had been shot dead.
"Democrat" reporter Anne Marie Eaton this week spoke to Kevin Ludlow, a brother of Seamus and also to his nephew Jimmy Sharkey on the investigations into Seamus' murder.
In the years since his murder, Seamus' family were continually told by Gardai that the IRA were responsible fore his murder. However, this was always questioned as shortly after Seamus' death and on occasions since, the family have been told from various sources that the IRA did not carry out the murder.
Two years ago in Buswells Hotel, on the 20th Anniversary of Seamus' murder, the Ludlow family asked for investigations to recommence. In recent months investigations have begun to pick up pace as a number of Garda Detectives travelled to Belfast where RUC were questioning four men in connection with the murder.
Perhaps more importantly what has also come to the attention of the family is that one of the four men who witnessed the killing made a statement to the RUC in 1987 giving accurate details of the murder and the events occurring both before and after. It has also been reported to Seamus' family that the Gardai knew who the killers were shortly after the murder.
According to recent reports in the National Press and also from the family, the murder of Seamus Ludlow was carried out by three UDR soldiers who were also members of the Loyalist Red Hand Commandos, with Paul Hosking, from Comber, County Down, who was then 19 years old, a witness to the killing.
Hosking said he had met the three men on Saturday, 1st May 1976 in a pub in Comber, Co Down. One of the men was a UDR Captain, another also belonged to the UDR with the third man possibly affiliated to the UDR.
The three men and Hosking travelled in the second UDR man's two door yellow Datsun to Killyleagh where they went to another pub. The UDR Captain suggested they head for the border where there were supposed to be IRA checks. Hosking went on to say that the car passed through a British Army checkpoint when the the driver produced a UDR pass.
The group then visited a pub in Omeath. Hosking who admits to being drunk by the time the four men left the bar says that instead of heading back over the Border, they headed towards Dundalk.
Seamus Ludlow was at Lisdoo, hitching a lift home to Thistlecross after a night's drinking. The Datsun car stopped for him and he got into the car, sitting between Hosking and one of the UDR men. As they drove by his house, Seamus, who was not married, had no children and lived with his mother, said that this was where he lived. The car turned down into what is known as the Bog Road and then on down another lane. When the car stopped Hosking got out of the car. He had his back turned to the vehicle when he heard the gunshots. He turned back to see the man who had been sitting in the front passenger seat shooting into the car. The body was taken out of the car and dumped in a ditch. The Datsun then returned to the North, leaving Hosking and the UDR Captain in Killyleagh. The UDR man then took Hosking back to Comber.
Seamus' family say that for a number of weeks after Seamus' murder there was continual Garda investigation, however this stopped abruptly and the family were told Seamus had been killed by the IRA. Jimmy Sharkey says that the family do not believe this. It is felt by the family that Seamus was murdered in a case of mistaken identity with reports at the time stating that Seamus was a "double" of a top Provisional IRA man. This was also made known to the family by the man concerned, with one Garda confirming that there was a strong resemblance to this man.
Seamus' brother Kevin also spoke of his anger in the way which his family were treated by the Gardai in the years since Seamus' death and, in particular, at the time of the inquest.
The inquest into Seamus Ludlow's death took place on 19th August 1976. However the family were not notified until the morning of the inquest, whereas the family involved in another inquest who lived nearby and which took place on the same day, were notified a week before. On the morning of the inquest, at approximately 10.15 am, Gardai visited Kevin's home and informed his wife that the inquest was taking place at 11 am. She asked could it be moved back until she contacted Kevin at work and was told "no". It was first on the list. By the time Kevin received the news where he was working in Newry it was too late to attend. When Kevin Ludlow complained to the Gardai he was told that a local Sergeant had represented the family and that it was a misunderstanding that the family had not been notified of the inquest. He went on to say that, in the words of the Gardai at the time, the notification had been "overlooked", a matter which Kevin finds hard to believe that the inquest into a murder could be overlooked or that he who had identified Seamus' body did not need to be present.
Over the years, Kevin has said that anytime he got in contact with the Gardai to see had any progress made in the investigations he was told that it was the IRA who were responsible for the killing. In conclusion, on the operations of the Gardai at the time, Kevin states "We got no fair play from the Gardai".
Jimmy Sharkey spoke of the later investigations and hopes that the truth will soon be confirmed. In mid-February four men were detained in Castlereagh for questioning about Seamus' murder. One of the men concerned was taken from Staffordshire, England, to Belfast for the questioning. Another man was Paul Hosking. The men were released without charge, with a report sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland.
On present Gardai investigations, Jimmy say that the Gardai have been "very courteous and understanding of the situation" adding that it is felt by the family that "they are trying to clean up the mess made by their colleagues 22 years ago".
While not blaming the Gardai personnel in Dundalk as a whole, he comments that "in 1976, elements of Garda Special Branch did know 70-80% of the details." This was confirmed to Jimmy in recent months by a senior detective, that Gardai knew who was responsible for the murder within a short time.
Decision at High Level
The Family also believe there may be a possibility that the decision to cease investigations into the murder may have come from as high as the Department of Justice and perhaps even on a Cabinet level. He added that the truth will only come out through an independent public enquiry.
How do the Ludlow family feel about the key witness - Paul Hosking, who when he went to make his statement to the RUC in 1987, was told to "Forget it. It's political?" Jimmy Sharkey on behalf of the family says they bear him no ill will, adding, that if it weren't for him they would not be so near to the truth.
The Garda Press Office this week stated that investigations into the death of Seamus Ludlow in 1976 were ongoing and that during the course of the investigations that contact had been made between the gardai and the RUC which was normal in this type of investigation. The RUC Press Office also reported that in this type of case they would liaise with the Gardai.