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, 28 April 2001:
Twenty-five years on and Ludlow murder remains unsolved
by Anne-Marie Eaton
"If the law of the jungle is not to prevail, and if the good name of Ireland is not to be besmirched still further by an apparent meaningless and indiscriminate killing, it must be sincerely hoped that the callous murderers of Seamus Ludlow will be speedily apprehended and brought to justice" - Dundalk Democrat, 8th May, 1976.
it is almost twenty-five years since the above excerpt was written. Seamus Ludlow, a forty-seven year old forestry worker from Mountpleasant was murdered on 1st May, 1976, and his body dumped on a ditch in a laneway close to his home. He had been shot three times.
Approximately 2,500 people attended his funeral on 5th May.
From that day, the Ludlow family have been unceasing in their efforts to try to bring his killers to justice and, despite the fact that almost 100% of the details surrounding his abduction and murder has been uncovered, no charges have been made and no public enquiry carried out.
Questions still remain unanswered: Why did initial Garda investigations stop after three weeks? Why were the family not notified of Seamus' inquest in August 1976 and at that inquest why were no ballistics or forensic reports presented? If the Gardai had information on Seamus' murderers from as far back as 1979, why was it not acted upon?
Shortly after the murder, the family were informed that Seamus had been killed by the IRA, but this was strongly denied. In more recent years, an eye-witness to the murder, Paul Hosking, came forward and said the murder was carried out by UDR men with links to the Red Hand Commandos. In a Sunday Tribune interview with Ed Moloney, Hosking said that he had given his information to the RUC in 1987 and was told "Forget it, it's political".
Hosking and the three men involved travelled in a yellow Datsun from Comber to Killyleagh onto Omeath and then headed for Dundalk. The car stopped to pick up Seamus who was hitching a lift home after a night's drinking.
According to Hosking's account, Seamus told the men they were driving past his house. The car turned down what is known as the Bog Road and turned into another lane.
Hosking said he got out of the car and as he had his back turned, heard the gunshots. The man who had been sitting in the front seat of the car was shooting into it. Seamus' body was taken out and dumped in the ditch. His body was discovered the following day.
The inquest took place on 19th August 1976. No member of his family was present. On the morning of the inquest, Gardai visited the home of Kevin Ludlow, Seamus' brother, and told his wife that the inquest was taking place and could not be moved back. Kevin, who was working in Newry at the time, received the news too late. When he complained, he was told a local Sergeant had represented the family and the matter was dismissed as a misunderstanding.
No proceedings issued
In early 1998 four men, including Paul Hosking, were questioned at Castlereagh. The Director of Public Prosecutions later said that no proceedings should be issued on the murder.
The family over the years have conducted their own investigations and now believe that the information given to them by the Gardai, that Seamus was murdered by the IRA, hides an even greater conspiracy.
Seamus' nephew, Jimmy Sharkey explains: "They had information on Seamus' killers from as far back as 1979. The family are upset that we were continually lied to even though this information was received. "What we really want to know is who suppressed the evidence, why it was suppressed and the level it was suppressed at. Even now they are going to suppress as much evidence as they can".
He continues: "The gardai did a good job at covering things up, but they were doing the dirty work for people at a higher level".
On the continuing battle to find the truth, Jimmy states: "We've waited twenty-five years and we are going to keep up our work. We have gathered so much information that we know almost 100% of the events that took place that night".
On the private enquiry being carried out into Seamus' death, the family are anxious that all the information is made available.
"We hope that all the files will be looked at and that it will not be a case of only some files being shown".
Although, ideally, the family would have preferred a public enquiry, they would still like to see an independent observer, "to see that the enquiry is done right".
Seamus' family do not see his murder as a spur-of-the-moment thing. "we have no doubt that the men involved were in the area before. At that time the Bog Road was busy. There was a back entrance to Ballymascanlon Hotel there. They knew where they were going. There was no way you could drive down there and know to turn off down the narrow laneway".
Support for the Ludlow family has come from a variety of sources. British Irish Rights Watch have written a report on Seamus' death. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties have also been involved. Support has also come from the families of the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, the Castleblayney Bombing and, also, the Dundalk Bombing.
The family also have websites in operation highlighting their cause, while the Pat Finucane Centre website also gives information.
A special commemoration ceremony in memory of Seamus Ludlow is to take place on Sunday evening next at the memorial located where his body was dumped twenty-five years ago.
Commencing at 4pm, speakers will include Ed Moloney, Kevin Ludlow, Michael Donegan and Jimmy Sharkey.
Wreaths will be laid at the memorial by Seamus' relatives as well as the families of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, the Castleblayney Bombing and the Dundalk Bombing.
Prayers will be read by Monsignor Raymond Murray and an tAth Brian MacRois.
The commemoration ceremony is open to all.
On Wednesday next, the day of the twenty-fifth anniversary, a Mass will be held in St Mary's Church, Ravensdale at 7pm.