The Murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth, May 1976. Towards a public inquiry?
Kevin Donegan, a brother-in-law (now deceased), who lived just north of the border at Dromintee, south Armagh, and who had several meetings with Garda detectives to discuss the case, was actually told that the IRA was responsible and that the killing was "a family affair". He was told that some members of the family were involved in the murder of their relative. This was an unbelievable lie.
In the early part of his life Kevin Donegan, photographed below, spent 14 years as a soldier in the Irish army. Respect for the system was drilled into him during those 14 years in the army, and any doubts he might have had about officialdom would have been suppressed. Besides, he was reared in a respectable family and it was perhaps natural for him to believe in and respect the word of the authorities. Like many people from his generation within the Ludlow family circle it was difficult to accept that the Garda would lie. If they said that Seamus Ludlow was murdered by the IRA they would have been inclined to believe what they were told.
Thus Kevin Donegan went to his grave on 27 January 1992, filled with doubt, still half believing the terrible lies that he was told by the detectives in Dundalk. The Gardai knew what kind of man Kevin Donegan was and they abused and exploited his trust. It was not his fault as a law-abiding and trusting citizen that Kevin Donegan was so exploited and abused.
Kevin Donegan's experiences with the Garda and the British Army were related in open hearing to the Joint Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Justice by his son Michael in January 2006.
At least one other family member was told the same thing. Kevin Ludlow, the victim's only surviving brother, who now lives in County Cavan, was quoted in The Sunday Tribune, 15 March 1998:
To this day Kevin Ludlow holds secret the name of a family member who he says was falsely accused by the Gardai of being involved in the murder of Seamus Ludlow. That neither this person or any other member of the Ludlow family has ever been arrested speaks volumes about this disgraceful smear. Kevin Ludlow knows this to be a lie and he will not reveal the name of the family member who has been so falsely accused.
Kevin Ludlow repeated this assertion in evidence at the fresh inquest in September 2005, where he accused former Sergeant Gannon of having accused the IRA of involvement on several occasions. Mr Gannon denied this emphatically!. Kevin Ludlow repeated his accusations again in his oral submission in an open hearing before the Joint Oireachtas sub-committee on justice in January 2006.
Kevin Ludlow, at left in this photograph, a brother of the innocent victim, is pictured at Seamus' grave at Ravensdale, with his nephew Jimmy Sharkey.
All of this is now exposed as rubbish but it is particularly shocking that it now seems that, while they were smearing Seamus Ludlow's family, the detectives already had information about the true identity of the Loyalist killers.
These lies were distressing to a family which had lost a loved one in tragic circumstances, a man who had no enemies in the world and certainly not within his close family. Again it is worth stressing, though the Garda sought to implicate members of the Ludlow family in their loved one's death, no members of the family were ever arrested for the foul crime.
One nephew, Jimmy Sharkey, however, was interrogated at length by garda detectives in a patrol car on the Bog Road near his home. He recalls that they made great efforts to force him into admitting that he believed that his uncle was killed by the IRA. It seemed important to them that he should believe what they wanted him to believe. It seems relevant to stress here that it is now clear that the Gardai themselves did not believe the lies that they wanted the Ludlow family to swallow.
The Ludlow family is delighted that the day has finally come when the truth of who committed the murder is at last revealed. The four names were at last revealed when the Barron Report was published in November 2006. It should be stressed, however, that the Ludlow family have known these names since the late 1990s at least.
Seamus Ludlow and his family are vindicated and those who spread lies are silent. The Ludlow family have now publicly demonstrated their belief in a cover-up with the erection of a new memorial, photographed here, at the place where Seamus Ludlow's body was found.
Members of the Ludlow family circle suspect that the Gardai were attempting to split the family, to drive members into opposing and accusing camps. A family so divided against itself would be less likely to maintain a determined campaign for truth and justice and thereby permit those who were only interested in covering up the true facts to succeed in their twisted aims.
There can be no doubt that the Ludlow family was indeed split but this is not the fault of the family. They in their grief were exploited for evil purposes by members of a force which was sworn to uphold the law and solve crime.
These attempts to smear the family of Seamus Ludlow were revealed in The Sunday Tribune, 15 March 1998, which can be viewed on the website of the Pat Finucane Centre (see link on the Ludlow family's Links page).
I Top I
SUPPORT THE SEAMUS LUDLOW APPEAL FUNDBank of Ireland 78 Clanbrassil Street Dundalk County Louth Ireland
Account No. 70037984