The Murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth, May 1976. Towards a public inquiry?
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The Dundalk Democrat, 25 May 2005:
Family's 30 year wait for second inquest nears end
By Anne Marie Eaton
It may be a strange thing for a family to be happy that a date has been set for a loved one's inquest but for the Ludlow family it has come after almost 30 years of waiting.
Now within minutes at a preliminary hearing to Seamus Ludlow's second inquest, representatives of the Garda Commissioner had sympathised with them on Seamus' 1976 murder, a letter from the Attorney General confirmed that they had been denied participation in the inquest and that important evidence had not been available or presented at the inquest.
In addition to that the Assistant Commissioner is willing to be a liaison officer for the family.
What many had dismissed as a form of paranoia over the years as door after door was closed to the family in their search for the truth was now no longer confined to them, as County Coroner Ronan Maguire said he had to rely on "second hand information" in relation to some aspects of the second inquest which is set to get under way in Dundalk on September 5 and is expected to last a bnumber of days.
No member of Seamus Ludlow's family were at his inquest in August 1976, a fact which the Atorney General attributed to his decision to grant a second inquest which will now get under way on September 5 and is expected to continue for a number of days.
Speaking after the preliminary hearing Seamus' nephew Sharkey said while he welcomed words of sympathy from Kevin Segrave, representing the Garda Commission, the family are to continue to fight until "we receive words of apology".
Of the hearing he said "It is an exerience to go into a room after almost 30 years and have it confirmed that not all the information on Seamus' murder was made public and that we should have been allowed participate in his first inquest.
"It proves that we weren't making up stories for almost three decades and from what the County Coroner has said we are not the only people being given the runaround when we went asking questions about the Garda investigaton.
Seamus' brother Kevin and sister Nan atended the hearing along with other family members and were satified with the preparations for the September inquest.
Jimmy Sharkey said: "I know to say being hapy with an inquest is unusual but we do see it as a step.
"We do welcome the expression of sympathy on behalf of the Gardai but it is indirect. The day we are waiting for is when we get a leter with an apology."
A quiet man who was shot after a night out
Seamus Ludlow, a quiet forestry worker from Mountpleasant was abducted and murdered on May 1, 1976. He was shot three times and his body dumped on a ditch in a laneway off the Bog Road close to his Mountpleasant home.
To date no-one has been charged with Seamus' murder.
Over the past 29 years the Ludlow family have fought hard to expose the truth behind Seamus' murder and, in their uncle's memory see the killers brought to justice.
In the 1990s Paul Hosking who claimed to be an eye-witness to Seamus' murder had his account ofevents published in the national press.
Hosking said that the murder was carried out by UDR men with links to the Loyalist Red Hand Commandos. In an interview with the Sunday Tribune's Ed Moloney, Hosking said that he had given this information to the RUC in 1987 and was told "Forget it. It's political."
Hosking, in his account, said that the three men involved travelled in a yelow Datsun from Comber. The car stopped to pick up Seamus who was hitching a lift home.
In early 1998 four men, including Hosking were questioned in Castlereagh.
However, the Director of Public Prosecutions later stated that no proceedings should be issued on the murder.
Over the years the Ludlow family have given up their lives to finding out what hapened.
In their efforts they have met with many civil rights groups, Taoisigh, Ministers for Justice, Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan and they will continue to meet with anyone who can help them in their effort.
Initial inquest did little to uncover truth of murder
The Ludlow family this week entered Dundalk Courthouse for what is another major step in their campaign to uncover the truth surrounding the murder of Seamus Ludlow.
While the preliminary hearing is not an actual opening of the inquest it is being looked on as a major step and it is hoped that the inquest will follow on within months.
The Attorney General confirmed that a second inquest would be held into Seamus Ludlow's death in July 2002.
In the years since Seamus' murder his family have condemned the proceedings of the first inquest at which the family was not represented.
Until recent years when reports were obtained by the family they had only a report in the Dundalk Democrat for reference.
The original inquest took place on August 19 1976.
Kevin Ludlow had identified his brother's remains but even he was not present at the inquest. On his deposition, the then County Coroner Dr. Thomas Edward Scully noted "not in attendance, away on holiday - just back, working in Newry. Could not be contacted."
This has long been disputed by the family. A member of the Gardai had caled to Kevin Ludlow's home in Cox's Desmesne but only with 45 minutes notice of the inquest. Because Kevin was working in Newry, there was no way he could get back to Dundalk.
Also, there was no efforts made to contact Seamus' sister Nan Sharkey. This error was later admitted to by Detective Sergeant Gannon in a letter.
Since 2002 County Coroner Ronan Maguire has spoken of dificulties in obtaining all the relevant records from the Gardai authorities.
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