private Barron Inquiry report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow was published
with much fanfare in Dublin on 3 November 2005.
four chief loyalist Red Hand Commando/UDR suspects have been publicly identified
for the first time - their names appearing not only in the published 100-page
report but also extensively in press reports thereafter. For further
inforemation on this important development go here.>>>
The Ludlow family
had campaigned consistently for
public inquiries in both jurisdictions in Ireland into the sectarian murder in
County Louth of their dear relative Seamus Ludlow. Thus, initially, the
Ludlow family did not accept the private inquiry announced by the Dublin
as it is now widely known, was murdered by members of the outlawed
Loyalist murder gang, the Red Hand Commando and the British Army's Ulster
Defence Regiment (UDR) on the
night of 1st and 2nd May, 1976.
The four suspects, whose names
were all known to
the Ludlow family for several years, were arrested by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in February 1998, but once again
they evaded the justice that they were protected from since 1976.
The Ludlow family demands a full accounting of
the failure by both the Gardai and the RUC to bring the killers to justice. They
demand explanations and apologies for the smearing of the innocent victim and
the covering-up of his murder to protect his killers who were identified very
soon after the crime was committed.
The Irish government
hoped that the
Ludlow family would accept the ongoing private Hamilton Inquiry (conducted since
October 2000 by the former Irish Supreme Court judge Henry Barron), into the Dublin,
Monaghan and Dundalk bombings, something less than the public inquiry that
been demanded, but this private option was been rejected at the outset.
then Irish Minister for Justice, Mr. John
O'Donoghue, formally recommended the private Barron Inquiry with a follow-up
public Joint Oirachtas Committee hearing, to the Ludlow family, when they met
him in Dublin on 23 May 2001. The Ludlow family rejected his proposals outright.
They could have no confidence in any inquiry held in private, where there is no
public access to witness evidence or documents. Mr. O'Donoghue then took the
view that there was nothing further to discuss and that it was the Ludlow family
who were the cause of the stalemate! He then abruptly walked out of the
Ludlow family rejected this view entirely, seeing very little in the
Minister's proposals that could establish truth and justice for Seamus
Ludlow. The Ludlow family saw the failure to achieve any movement resting with the Irish government,
which makes regular demands of the British to hold public inquiries into
other ghastly state killings in the North of Ireland, while it hypocritically refuses to hold
public inquiries in its own jurisdiction.
they Ludlow family were outright in their condemnation of the Minister's private
inquiry option and they ridiculed his proposal for a Joint Oireachtas Committee
hearing, since that body was now looking weaker by the day as its powers to ask
questions and summon witnesses were daily being eroded by challenges from the
gardai and Mr. O'Donoghue's own department since it began its investigation of
the gardai armed Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and its shooting dead of John Carthy at
Abbeylara, County Longford.
The only obstacle to the holding of an inquiry
into Seamus Ludlow's foul murder and the cover-up, or more precisely the
publication of any report of such an inquiry, as indicated in his official report by the
Irish Victims Commissioner John
Wilson - a report commissioned and accepted by the Dublin government - was the
then apparently strong possibility of a
pending prosecution of the four Loyalist suspects in the North.
This possibility has
been removed by the failure of the Northern Ireland Director of Public
Prosecutions (DPP) to bring charges against any of the former UDR/Red Hand
Commando suspects. Accordingly
the Ludlow family now reaffirmed its demand for a fully public and independent inquiry to be convened at the
earliest possible opportunity.
Given the shameful failure of the
Northern Ireland DPP, and the RUC, to press charges against any of the suspects,
there could, in the Ludlow family's view, be no justification for a private
inquiry as recommended by Mr. Wilson.
Further, Mr. Hamilton's shock resignation
in October 2000, on health grounds, from his private inquiry, prior to his
completing his report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings (which left 34 people
dead and 300 injured in the four separate no-warning bombs, planted by the UVF at
the height of the Loyalist Ulster Workers Council strike against the Sunningdale
Agreement in 1974), raised serious questions about the suitability of a
one-man private investigation of such grave issues. Sadly, Mr. Hamilton was very
ill indeed, for his death was reported in the national press on 1 December 2000.
To date, neither the RUC nor the Gardai have
issued an apology for their role in protecting Seamus Ludlow's killers and the
British authorities in Belfast and their Irish counterparts in Dublin have not
responded to the Ludlow family's just demands for a full and independent public inquiry.
British remain utterly silent on this issue, in Dublin there remains a fierce
reluctance to go beyond a private inquiry, like the Hamilton Inquiry, for any of the Loyalist atrocities
that were committed south of the border.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD announced on Sunday,
19th. December, 1999, that the outgoing Chief Justice, Mr. Liam Hamilton was
being invited to "undertake a thorough examination, involving fact finding
and assessment of all aspects of the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings and
their sequel, including
- the facts, causes and
perpetrators of the bombings;
- the nature, adequacy and extent
of Garda investigations, including the adequacy of co-operation with and from
the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland and the adequacy of the handling
of scientific analyses of forensic evidence; and
- the reasons why no prosecution
took place, including whether and if so, by whom and to what extent the
investigations were impeded. . .".
This was the closest that the Dublin authorities
had come to acceding to the various family's' demands for a public inquiry in
those cases, but it remained to be seen if the formula laid out in Mr. Ahern's
statement was acceptable to all concerned.
the Ludlow family was mindful that their demand was for a genuine public
inquiry, and that now that the Northern Ireland DPP was no longer standing in
the way, there was no justification for Dublin's failure to convene such an
inquiry, perhaps on lines similar to those of the present British Saville
Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday in Derry.
One thing is clear though - the Seamus Ludlow
case was, at this stage at least, not even being considered by the Dublin
government for the Hamilton Inquiry.
Chief Justice Liam Hamilton was not being asked to look into the murder of
Seamus Ludlow and the subsequent cover-up and smear campaign that has been the
focus of the Ludlow family's campaign for truth and justice.
Ludlow family circle's attitude to the proposed Hamilton inquiry was largely
irrelevant. The Ludlow family was given no choice to consider at the outset of
the Hamilton Inquiry, though it was
becoming increasingly clear that Hamilton could not produce the truth that was
demanded by the Ludlow family, and was perhaps designed to ensure that the full truth
of what was done would never be revealed.
The Ludlow family had every reason to believe
that the murder of Seamus Ludlow should at least have been included in Mr.
Ahern's inadequate proposals, however deficient they were when held up to close scrutiny.
After all, four Loyalists were arrested by the RUC for
questioning about that foul crime in February 1998; the Northern Ireland
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had decided on 15 October 1999 that none
of the four prime suspects would be prosecuted; and the Ludlow family
had received firm information from within the Gardai that confirmed their worst
suspicions of an official cover-up.
Not least among their concerns was the
revelation of the existence of a long suppressed Garda file that contained the
names of several suspects. The file had been received from the RUC, in the North, in
The proposed private Hamilton inquiry did not satisfy the Ludlow family's demands, but at least it should initially have been an
option for the family to consider: to accept or to reject. By the summer of 2000
it was all too clear that Hamilton was indeed falling far short of the Ludlow family's
The family, through their solicitor, continued to demand the
holding of a full independent inquiry, where all necessary papers and witness
would be examined in public. Meanwhile, the private Hamilton Inquiry was going
nowhere, with expected dates for the conclusion of a first report not met -
effectively stringing out the whole inquiry into the bombings of Dublin and
Matters worsened in October 2000 with the sudden and unexpected
resignation of Mr. Justice Hamilton, on, at that time unspecified, health grounds, before finishing his
report. Mr. Hamilton died soon afterwards on 29 November 2000.
Although he was soon replaced by
Mr Justice Henry Barron, it remained to be
seen whether or not the whole unsatisfactory process was being put back to
square one. Although the Ludlow family had rejected Mr. Hamilton's private
inquiry, this rejection was not a personal criticism of Mr. Hamilton himself.
There were strong indications by the end of January 2000
that the Department of Justice in Dublin was looking at adding the Seamus Ludlow
case to the late Mr. Justice Liam Hamilton's remit. The following statement from the
Private Secretary at the Minister's office comes from a letter, dated 31
January, 2000, to the Ludlow family's solicitor:
"The Minister believes that including the
case of the late Mr. Ludlow as part of the remit of Mr. Justice Hamilton would
be the most appropriate way to address the concerns which have been expressed
about this case. Accordingly, he has asked me to tell you that he is minded to
recommend to his colleagues in Government that the case be included in the
remit of Mr. Justice Hamilton."
The Department of Justice called upon the Ludlow
family's solicitor to inquire and inform the Minister of the Ludlow family's
attitude to this approach. As Mr. Justice Liam Hamilton was due to commence his
work very shortly, the Private Secretary said "it would be very much
appreciated if you could respond to the Minister's proposal within the next
Notably absent from the Private Secretary's
letter was a response to the Ludlow family's repeated request for the releasing
of the recent Garda investigation report from the 1998 inquiry headed by Chief
Superintendent Ted Murphy, and other relevant files from 1976 and 1979.
If the Minister for Justice was expecting
immediate acceptance from the Ludlow family for a proposal that had neither been
made public nor explained in great detail at that time, he was to be disappointed. The Ludlow
family had not given up on its firm demands for a public inquiry and for access
to Garda and RUC reports on the sectarian murder of Seamus Ludlow. There were
still many questions to be examined before the Ludlow family could consider
to the Minister's still private proposal for what was a private inquiry.
The then Hamilton Inquiry was not initially rejected
the Ludlow family would require much more persuasion before they would accept
something less than their basic demands of truth and justice through a public
inquiry. Would the private Hamilton Inquiry satisfy all their demands?
Would it uncover
the whole truth about Seamus Ludlow's sectarian murder? Would it get to the
bottom of the RUC and Garda cover-up which has kept Seamus Ludlow's UDR and Red
Hand Commando killers immune from justice since 1976?
Was the private Hamilton Inquiry any more than a
last-ditch Dublin government attempt to control the release of relevant
information, to limit damaging revelations and to protect the image and
reputations of the Garda and others who may have serious questions to answer?
Was it a genuine attempt to uncover the whole truth regardless of the
consequence? Was it aimed only at bringing out the full unvarnished truth behind
the shameful failure to bring to justice those responsible for heinous crimes in
the Irish state? Would the various families be granted effective legal
representation, with the absolute right to demand the release of files and to
subpoena vital witnesses, who could be questioned under oath?
If the answers to these questions is
"No", then clearly the Hamilton Inquiry could surely not meet with the stated
requirements of the Ludlow family. If the answers to these questions is
"Yes", as Government statements seemed to say, then the
Ludlow family could ask, why not go the full distance and establish a
public inquiry? If there is truly nothing to hide, then there should be a public
On 25 February, 2000, the Ludlow family's
solicitor sent his response to the Minister for Justice, "reflecting the
view of the family in relation to the similarities between this case and that of
Pat Finucane". The solicitor referred to previous correspondence, saying
that he was looking "forward to hearing from you in relation to this matter
and in particular to receiving a copy of the Investigation Report."
solicitor concluded: "Again on behalf of the family we must emphasise the
view that the case for a public inquiry is compelling and unanswerable. We look
forward to hearing from you." The solicitor was still waiting more
than four months later.
family rejected the proposal made by the Minister for Justice at a meeting with
him on 23 May 2001. By that time there was still no further progress and the
Minister remained controversially set against holding a public inquiry, although
he stressed that it was not ruled out for the future.
The Dublin government initially said that it
the then Hamilton inquiry will "have full access to all files and papers of
Government Departments and the Garda Siochana. The Government will also direct
that all members of the Public Service and the Garda Siochana extend their full
co-operation to him. Furthermore, the Taoiseach intends that the Government will
seek the co-operation of the British authorities with the Chief Justice's
"The results of the Chief Justice's
inquiry will be presented to the Government, and there will follow "an
examination of the report in public session by the "Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality and Women's Rights or a sub-committee of that
The following excerpt from the Statement by the
Taoiseach on the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk Bombings (19th December, 1999)
gives further details of the private process that the Minister for Justice had recommended to the Ludlow family, who remained opposed to this private alternative
to a public inquiry:
(Because of the separation of powers between
the Executive and the Legislature, it is not possible for the Government to
direct the Oireachtas or a Committee of it to take a particular action.
However, the Government would do everything in its power to ensure that the
Committee took this action and, as there is cross-party support for this
approach, the Government are confident that matters would unfold along the
"It is also envisaged by the Government by
the Government that the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality and
Women's rights would direct that the report prepared by the Chief Justice be
submitted to the Committee, in order for it to advise the Oireachtas as to
what further action, if any, would be necessary to establish the truth of what
"The Committees of the Houses of the
Oireachtas (Compellability, Privileges and Immunity of Witnesses) Act, 1997
enables the Oireachtas to confer power on an Oireachtas Committee to send for
persons, papers and records and it is envisaged that these powers would be
invoked, including at the stage where the Committee, in public session,
considered the follow-up to be given to the report of the Chief Justice.
"The Government envisage that that this
consideration will involve hearings at which
Justice for the Forgotten Group,
representing the injured and bereaved, would have the right to appear before,
and be heard before, the Committee;
- the Committee would exercise powers to direct
the material relevant to the findings of the report to be placed before it;
- it would also exercise powers to call persons
to appear before it to respond publicly to the report.
"As the Government see the matter, there
would be three approaches open to the Committee:
(i) advise that the report achieved as far as
possible the objective of finding out the truth and that no further action
would be required or fruitful;
(ii) advise that the report did not achieve the
objective which could only be done through a public inquiry; or
(iii) advise that the report did not achieve
the objective and the Committee or a sub-committee of the Committee should
examine the matter further (as outlined previously, the options available to
such committees or sub-committees include public hearings and powers to send
for persons, papers and records). . .".
was for the Justice for the Forgotten group
and the people bereaved and injured by the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings
to decide whether or not the private Hamilton Inquiry process, as outlined above,
appropriate to their demands.
The Ludlow family
accepted their right to make
their own decisions in their own cases. The Ludlow family had considered
Mr. Ahern's and Mr. O'Donoghue's proposals for the Hamilton (Barron) Inquiry and
Joint Oireachtas Committee hearing and they were still rejected as having
no merit in meeting the family's stated demands.
idea of a public Joint Oireachtas Committee hearing had recently been severely
undermined by the gardai and the Department of Justice who had challenged its
powers in regard to its investigation of the controversial Abbeylara case -
making it little more than a rubber stamp body with none of the powers envisaged
originally by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. It was daily becoming apparent that this
can be no alternative to a public inquiry as envisaged by the Ludlow family.
The Dublin Government's ideas for extending the
remit of the Hamilton (Barron) Inquiry so that it would look also at the murder of Seamus
Ludlow were outlined in further detail during Taoiseach's questions
in Leinster House, Dublin, on 23 May 2000. Mr. Ahern stated that this was
his government's advice to the Ludlow family, who he accepted have "strong
views and they are not yet satisfied that this is the best way to proceed".
Mr. Ahern repeated his previous claim that he
met with the Ludlow family. Well, this is strange news to the late Seamus
Ludlow's surviving brother, three sisters and many nephews and nieces and their
families, for no Ludlow family group has ever met with Mr. Ahern. Requests for a
meeting with Mr. Ahern have never been acknowledged. Repeated requests for such
a meeting have been ignored, while Mr Ahern has met with other families who have
lost loved ones in the North. To this day, no such meeting has ever been
Mr. Ahern went on to introduce various arguments which could later be used as an
for any failure of such an inquiry. For instance, Mr. Ahern said:
"As Deputy Quinn is aware, there are
difficulties in the Seamus Ludlow case, including cross-jurisdictional issues.
An added complication is that identifiable individuals were accused publicly
in the case and the DPP in Northern Ireland, having considered evidence
available there, decided not to prefer charges. This will make a public
examination of the case difficult here. However, my view remains that an
examination by the former Chief Justice is the best way to proceed."
Such arguments promote little confidence that the
proposed Hamilton (now Barron) process will produce the desired results, or that it was ever
intended to. Certainly nothing
said by Mr. Ahern helped persuade the Ludlow family that Hamilton (Barron) was the best way
forward or any alternative to a public inquiry. The Taoiseach's position
was explained further in a letter to the Ludlow family solicitor of 28
July 2000. Interestingly, the Private Secretary's letter concluded:
"Under this approach, a public
judicial inquiry is not ruled out at this stage. It would be one of a number of
options that could be considered, following on the completion of an examination
by an eminent legal person.
"Nor would examination by Judge Hamilton preclude your clients continuing,
if they wished, to campaign for a public inquiry, as the Justice for the
Forgotten group continue to do in regard to the Dublin/Monaghan bombings.
"The case of the murder of Mr. Ludlow has been dealt with in a recent
submission to the Government. it is now expected that interdepartmental
consultations on the best approach will be brought to a conclusion soon, with a
view to a further submission to an early meeting of the Government."
Some useful points which will no doubt help guide
the Ludlow family towards a final decision were made by the broadcaster and
writer Don Mullan - noted author of the momentous Eyewitness Bloody Sunday
and the recently published book The
Dublin and Monaghan Bombings (published by Wolfhound Press,
October 2000) - in a communication with a member of the family.
Mr. Mullan, a valued
supporter of the Ludlow family's campaign for justice, has advised:
"There will, no doubt, be linkages,
especially regarding the perpetrators of the crimes and the collusion of
British State forces. However, I think it is important that we don't
allow the government to submerge all incidents in a pot of political stew.
Each crime deserves to be examined on its own merits. The dead and the
bereaved are entitled to no less.
"It is certainly worth considering whether or not you should cooperate
with a Hamilton Assessment of all the available evidence concerning Shamus's
murder and your subsequent experience with the Garda 'Investigation'.
Whatever you decide, however, I think it is important you insist on allowing
the Seamus Ludlow case to stand on its own, just as Dublin and Monaghan should
stand on its own, along with the Dundalk bombing and the 1972 Dublin
"Having said that, I think it is very important that each individual
campaign should be united in a collective effort to support and encourage one
Mr. Mullan has raised important points here. Can
an inquiry process dealing with more than one atrocity - the Dublin and Monaghan
bombings of 1974, the Dundalk bombing of 1975, and perhaps also the Castleblaney bombing
and other Dublin bombings as well as Seamus Ludlow's murder, treat each
case on its own merits or will it seek out simple common denominators and
thereby avoid close examination of the specifics of each case?
It is also important to the Ludlow family that
all others presently demanding truth and justice for other
Loyalist/British forces crimes in the Irish state, and their many other victims
north of the border, should collectively support each other. They are all
victims of state violence and their plight has been ignored by the very state
which has brought them grief and suffering. They all fully deserve the truth and
justice that the British authorities have long denied them and the Ludlow family
will support them in their just demands.
Postscript, 23 November 2001:
a devastating blow to the Dublin government's proposed plan for a private
inquiry and Joint Oireachtas Committee investigation into the 1976 murder of
Seamus Ludlow, the three-judge Irish High Court in Dublin, in a landmark
decision, has sharply restricted the scope of Oireachtas
upheld a challenge by 36 members of
the Garda Emergency Response Unit against the conduct of the inquiry into the
April 2000 killing of John Carthy in Abbeylara, County Longford. Oireachtas
inquiries cannot now make "findings of fact or expressions of opinion"
which damage the good name of citizens who are not TDs or senators.
Further update: The Ludlow family met with the
then Irish Attorney General Michael McDowell on 21 February 2002 at Government
Buildings, Dublin. Accompanied by their legal advisor James McGuill, solicitor,
Dundalk, and, once again, by Jane Winter, Director, British Irish Rights Watch
(BIRW), London, the Ludlow family was informed that No Public Inquiry would take
place before a private Barron Inquiry with a Draft Terms
of Reference based closely on those described above for the Dublin and
Monaghan Bombings inquiry.
can read further about this setback for the Ludlow family's campaign for truth
and justice by reading the report that was published in the Dundalk
Democrat newspaper on 2 March 2002. In this, Jimmy Sharkey gives the Ludlow
family's first public reaction to the Dublin government's cruel decision to
continue with the cover-up.
The Dublin Government had decided to go ahead
with the private Barron inquiry, regardless of the Ludlow family's stated objections.
The Ludlow family restated their demand for a public inquiry and assured the
Attorney General that their opinion on the proposed private inquiry had not
changed since their unsatisfactory meeting in 2001 with the Minister for
Justice, John O'Donoghue.
in June and July 2002, after much consideration, members of the Ludlow
family met with Mr Justice Henry Barron to assist him in his inquiry.
Though still calling for a public inquiry, the Ludlow family had been advised
that boycotting Mr Justice Barron's inquiry, which was going ahead anyway, would
not be a wise option at that time. The Ludlow family requested access to all
files and witness statements that were seen by Mr Justice Barron, but this
request was turned down.
Ludlow family met with Mr Justice Barron again on 14 November, and a list of
questions important to the Ludlow family was put to the judge. It was hoped that
the questions would help the judge and his private inquiry. Again, it was
put to him that the Ludlow family still requested access to files and evidence
that is available to his inquiry.
was hoped that such access would enable the Ludlow family to help the judge to
make progress with his inquiry. Given the Ludlow family's knowledge of the facts
of the case it was felt that they could help Mr Justice Barron, not least by
guiding him towards the relevant witnesses and assisting him with Ludlow family
comments on the evidence he sees and hears.
Mr Justice Barron did not agree to allowing such access to the Ludlow family.
However, he did agree to write to the Ludlow family's lawyer to indicate matters
that were raised in such interviews. This letter was to be passed to the Ludlow
family for their comments.
Justice Barron wrote the above mentioned letter on 27 February 2003. The letter
referred to matters that were raised at the previous meetings with Mr Justice
Barron, as well as statements made to him by unidentified witnesses.
Points raised by Mr Justice Barron included: