The Murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth, May 1976. Towards a public inquiry?

 

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Latest - Seamus Ludlow's Inquest: 5 September 2005

3 November 2005: Barron Report published

6 December 2005: Oireachtas Committee calls for Submissions

29 March 2006: Final Oireachtas Committee Report published.

Download the Barron Report from the Oireachtas website (pdf file)

Download the Final Oireachtas Sub-Committee Report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow from the Oireachtas website (pdf file)

              WELCOME

 

Welcome to this Ludlow family web site! 

Thank you for coming! And please call again to hear more about the Ludlow family's campaign for a public inquiry into this innocent man's death in north County Louth, Ireland, in May 1976, at the hands of Loyalist Red Hand Commando and British Army killers from County Down, in the north of Ireland.

The Ludlow family believes that these killers of Seamus Ludlow have been protected, and continue to be protected, by the authorities on both sides of the Irish border and that they have escaped justice!

The site is divided into two sections - as seen in the menu to the left:

  1. An introduction to the murder of Seamus Ludlow and the long cover-up - with background information and a chronology giving an outline of the Ludlow family's experience from 1976 to recent times. See also seamusludlow.com

  2. The Ludlow family's long campaign for Truth and Justice - outlining recent developments in their  struggle for a public inquiry and including the full text of an independent report, produced in February 1999, by Jane Winter of British Irish Rights Watch, London.

We are delighted to receive valuable support from a number of distinguished human rights groups: British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW), London; the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Dublin; the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), Derry; Relatives for Justice (RFJ), Belfast; Amnesty International; the Celtic League. We also have support from  the South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee (SAFRC). A number of groups in the United States also give tremendous support and encouragement.

These groups all support our demands for public inquiries - north and south - to get the full truth behind Seamus Ludlow's murder and the long cover-up and smear campaign that protected his killers. The authorities in Dublin and London remain determined in their shameful refusal to face up to their responsibilities in this and other cases of state collusion in loyalist terrorism!  

What are they trying to hide? That is the inescapable question!

There will be no public inquiry in either jurisdiction unless they are met by overwhelming pressure from human rights groups and victims' families, making it impossible to continue standing against their demands for justice and truth in this and other collusion cases.

To their shame, the Dublin authorities show no sign of relenting in their refusal to countenance a public inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. 

Despite publicly stated apologies, before an Oireachtas Committee, to the Ludlow family from the former Garda Commissioner and the former Minister for Justice, the Irish state authorities remain adamant that there will be no public inquiry and that the secret garda investigation files will never be revealed to the Ludlow family or their lawyers!  

The Ludlow family remain adamant that they must change their attitude! They cannot bury their heads in the sand and pretend that nothing much is wrong in the Seamus Ludlow case. Their public apologies, if they mean anything at all, must be followed by a public inquiry to finally uncover the whole truth behind this sad affair in the lives of the Ludlow family.

The important questions of garda lies and cover-ups, missing bullets and clothing, missing garda files and the refusal to go after the indentified suspects in 1979 and afterwards, will not simply go away if they refuse to accept the overwhelming need for an inquiry into the actions of the state authorities in the aftermath of Seamus Ludlow's murder. 

Their incredible indifference to the pain felt by the grieving brother and three surviving sisters of Seamus Ludlow merely adds to the torment that has been heaped upon them by the cruel murder of their innocent brother.

Shame on them!

This site will be updated with further information, including press reports. Follow the links at the left margin to get to other pages. 

Visitors are welcome to leave messages on our new Bravenet Guestmap Guest Book. If you support our demands, please visit the guestmap. Please show your support for justice for Seamus Ludlow. Messages left by evil spammers will be deleted immediately!

Our original BeSeen.com Guestbook has now closed, but visitors can view the kind messages posted there by other supporters on another page.

Seamus Ludlow (born 4 December 1929 - murdered 2 May 1976) was for many years a forgotten and unrecognised victim of the Troubles, denied justice and recognition as an innocent victim of pro-British sectarian murder gangs and smeared for political reasons by the authorities who failed in their duty to uphold the law and protect the innocent. 

The Ludlow family today demands truth and justice for their loved one. They demand nothing less than full disclosure of the truth behind this shocking murder through public inquiries on both sides of the Irish border. 

Three garda investigations - in 1976, 1979 and 1998 - and a private judicial inquiry under Mr Justice Barron, which reported in November 2005, have all failed to find the truth behind the cover-up and the failure to bring the known killers to justice. 

The recent Oireachtas Justice Sub-Committee Report, published March 2006, on the murder of Seamus Ludlow has disappointingly called for another private inquiry meeting behind closed doors. To date no such inquiry has begun! 

A further garda investigation, mounted after the release of the oireachtas report, has apparently ended without the possibility of prosecutions. It has proved to be, as the Ludlow family predicted, a complete waste of time.

Two of Seamus Ludlow's loyalist killers were British soldiers at the time of his murder in May 1976. They are known to have been members of the locally recruited, and almost entirely Protestant and loyalist, Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), and it was rumoured, one of the suspects was identified as a captain in that discredited regiment.

One of the UDR personnel was later imprisoned for his role in another murder a few weeks after the murder of Seamus Ludlow. The second UDR man remained in the British Army until his retirement on pension in 1994! It mattered not that he had been identified as a murder suspect by the RUC in 1977. He was still seen to be suitable for service in the British forces.

The identities of the four men suspected of involvement in this killing have recently been revealed in Dublin with the publication of the Barron Report, in November 2005. 

According to the later Oireachtas Committee Report, published March 2006, the name of one of these individuals was passed by the RUC to the Garda just a few weeks before the murder of Seamus Ludlow! 

This opens up the possibility that both police forces may have had some fore-warning of this murderous incursion into County Louth! It raises questions as to what, if anything, was done to prevent it!

Shamefully, lies about this innocent victim of British terrorism in Ireland later featured in evil books of propaganda for the  British Army and SAS. The victim's memory was disgraced by false allegations that he was an informer for the British authorities in the North who was killed by the IRA, and that he deserved his fate! 

Disgraceful messages left briefly by sick minded Loyalists on this site's guestbook have attempted to perpetuate these utterly false lies. Naturally, such messages have been removed!

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Seamus Ludlow, was abducted while on his way home from a Dundalk bar around midnight on 1 May 1976. He was taken to a lane near his Thistlecross, Mountpleasant, home, just a short distance south of the border in County Louth, and shot three times. The body was then dumped high upon a ditch and the UDR/Red Hand Commando killers made good their escape.

To this day, Seamus Ludlow's Loyalist killers have never faced justice; indeed, the Ludlow family is now painfully aware that they have in fact been protected all along by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the Irish Garda. 

It has been revealed that the RUC had identified these killers within seven months of the crime being committed - but they did nothing with the information in their possession! They did not pass information to the gardai until 1979 - and, shamefully, the gardai did not request further action of the RUC.

Four men, all Loyalists, three with connections to the outlawed Red Hand Commando murder gang, were finally arrested for questioning about this crime by the RUC in  February 1998, but they were all released without charge, even though two had made self-incriminating statements about their involvemnt in the murder of Seamus Ludlow.

Investigation files on all four suspects were sent to the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions (NIDPP), who eventually decided that none of the men would face charges for this murder. No reason for this failure to press charges has ever been given!

One of these men, Paul Hosking, has gone public and told the story of his presence as a witness at the murder of Seamus Ludlow. His story has appeared in an article by journalist Ed Moloney in the Sunday Tribune of 8 March 1998. It is the story he has given to the RUC on two occasions - in 1987 and 1998 - but no further action has been taken.

The RUC is now apparently "reformed" and renamed the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Still, no further action has been taken against the men who murdered Seamus Ludlow. Such is the force's indifference that a Ludlow family request made in writing in 1999 for a meeting with the then Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan to discuss the investigation has never been  granted!  

Mr Flanagan has now retired, without ever responding to the Ludlow family's request! He has latterly been posted to Iraq, ironically given the task of helping form a new civilian police force! Incredible!

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The Ludlow family demand to know why these murderers have been protected by the RUC, the NIDPP, and the gardai. Why was Seamus Ludlow's reputation smeared by the authorities? Was it to protect the image of the British Army's notorious UDR (now renamed the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR), the regiment that sheltered at least two of the killers.

Was it to protect an agent or intelligence asset among the killers? Or were these evil men engaged in military operations for the British authorities across the Irish border? These are the questions - and there are many more - that must be answered by the RUC, the British Army and the gardai.

Recent revelations suggest that the killers of Seamus Ludlow came to Dundalk on that fateful night in search for another man, who is now deceased. The intended target (whose name is known to the Ludlow family) could not be found and the killers, by chance, came upon the unsuspecting Seamus Ludlow on their way home.

On 21 February 2002, the Ludlow family was  informed that the Dublin Government had decided to disregard their demands for a public inquiry and would go ahead with a private inquiry under Mr Justice Henry Barron. This information was conveyed by Mr Michael McDowell, the then Attorney General. (Mr McDowell is now the Minister for Justice.)

The AG  was reassured that the Ludlow family's position regarding the private Barron Inquiry had not altered since their previous meeting with Mr John O'Donoghue, then Minister for Justice. For more about this please  read the report from the Dundalk Democrat. of 23 February 2002. 

See also The Irish News, 23 February 2002: 'Public inquiry needed'

Despite their grave misgivings about the Irish Government's proposals, the Ludlow family have had  useful meetings with Mr Justice Barron regarding his private inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. Following legal advice the Ludlow family decided to give Mr Justice Barron their full cooperation, without withdrawing their call for a public inquiry.

At a meeting on 14 November 2002, Mr Justice Barron reported that he had received practically no cooperation from the British authorities in the North of Ireland, where no doubt there are RUC and British Army security files that would be very helpful in getting at the truth behind the murder of Seamus Ludlow. His report, published on 3 November 2005, confirmd this lack of cooperation from the British authorities.

Please click here for the proposed Terms of Reference for the private Barron inquiry. This page also features a recent letter from the Department of the Taoiseach which gives further details of the proposed Joint Oireachtas Committee inquiry process. The recent Supreme Court decision in the Abbeylara case may yet place this public element of the Irish government's inquiry in some doubt.

Read the Dundalk Democrat's report of the Ludlow family's constructive meeting of 19 April 2002 with Mr Justice Henry Barron.

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In another development, on 4 March 2002, members of the Ludlow family, once again accompanied by Jane Winter of BIRW, met with Police Ombudsman Mrs Nuala O'Loan and her investigations team in Belfast.

Among a number of surprising revelations was the fact that the RUC (now the PSNI) first became aware of the Loyalist killers' identities and other substantive information as early as 1977 - if not much earlier than that - and, for reasons not yet specified, this information was withheld from the gardai until 1979. 

It was also revealed that there was no new information on file at the time of the four  arrests in February 1998, and that the arrests were based solely on the information that had been available in 1979 - or was that 1977 (and only months after Seamus Ludlow's murder)?

No information could be provided to account for the RUC's failure to pass the information on to the gardai before 1979, nor could it be shown that the RUC did anything at all with this information. The Ludlow family was not at all impressed by this apparent failure of the RUC to apprehend or take any action against the killers of Seamus Ludlow. 

The Ludlow family does not share the ombudsman's belief that the RUC behaved properly in this case. The shameful and inexplicable failure of the gardai to act with the information they received in 1979 in no way excuses the RUC's inaction throughout. 

Go to Meeting the Police Ombudsman for further information.

See interview with Ludlow family member Jimmy Sharkey in The Dundalk Democrat, 9 March 2002.

See also:The Sunday Tribune, 15 April 2001: O'Loan asked to investigate Ludlow killing

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3 July 2002 - In an important new development for the Ludlow family, the office of the Irish Attorney General Rory Brady wrote to the Ludlow family solicitor regarding the holding of a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow.

The family's lawyer James MacGuill had written on 30 May 2002 requesting of the AG that he exercise his powers under section 24(1) of the Coroners Act, 1962 and direct the holding of a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow. 

The Ludlow family had long complained of the way that the original "inquest" was conducted in their absence. The Gardai appear to have gone to certain lengths to ensure that the family was not present. Another issue of contention was the failure of the original "inquest" to examine the forensics and ballistic reports that were available at that time. It is hoped that a fresh inquest will put right some of the obvious failings of the deeply flawed "inquest" of 19 August 1976.

The AG's representative wrote to James MacGuill, the Ludlow family solicitor, on 3 July 2002

"I am now pleased to inform you that the Attorney General has acceded to that request, which you have made on behalf of the relatives of Mr Ludlow.

"The Attorney has, by a recent letter, directed the Coroner for County Louth, Mr Ronan Maguire BL to hold an inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow."

This important new development was reported in the local Dundalk Democrat on 20 July 2002.

Incredibly, delay would follow delay, and almost three full years would pass before the County Louth coroner would be in a position to name a date for the new inquest to commence. 

A preliminary hearing would not take place until 24 May 2005! The coroner, Mr. Ronan Maguire, then proposed 5 September as the date for the full inquest to commence.

See the Dundalk Democrat, 25 May 2005 and The Argus (Dundalk) 27 May 2005 for detailed reports of this long-awaited preliminary inquest hearing.

In March 2003 the Ludlow family heard from a journalist that the coroner Mr Maguire wanted to meet with the family shortly and that he intended to grant full access to the gardai's murder investigation file - apparently an extensive document containing 100 witness statements. This welcome development contrasted completely with the stubborn refusal of both the gardai and the RUC/PSNI to turn over their "confidential" files to the Ludlow family. 

It remained to be seen whether the files concerned included the recent internal gardai Murphy investigation which examined the role of the gardai in the original botched investigation of 1976; or, indeed, the file that was received from the RUC in 1979 - the file that identified at least three of Seamus Ludlow's alleged killers. 

When the file was handed over it contained only witness statements, many of which were barely legible or incomplete, and there was no sign of the vital forensics and ballistics reports. And no sign of the Murphy Report! None of the files the Ludlow family wanted to see were made available!

Read more about this new development in: 

The Irish News, 5 March 2003: Family's wait for murder file over

The Dundalk Democrat, 8 March 2003: Ludlow murder: files to be made available

Celtic League Press Release: LUDLOW KILLING - ANOTHER STEP ON THE ROAD TO JUSTICE? - 08/03/2003

As 2003 was coming to a close there were reports that the Gardai were apparently resisting requests from the Coroner for access to the Murphy investigation report of 1998. See article from The Irish News, 7 October 2003: Coroner still awaiting copy of murder report

In another important development the Celtic League organization called for a public inquiry at its Annual General Meeting, held in the Isle of Man. The Celtic League's statement can be found on this site.

The Murphy file was finally handed over to the Louth Coroner Ronan Maguire in October 2004 - more than two full years after the fresh inquest was announced. The garda obstruction only ceased when the Coroner threatened to refer it to the Attorney General.

Latest -

LATEST!

As outlined above, the long-awaited preliminary hearing for the Seamus Ludlow inquest finally took place in Dundalk courthouse on 24 May 2005: almost three full years after the Attorney General had issued instructions that it be held. The preliminary hearing attracted only brief coverage by the national media, but it was given some prominence in the local Argus and Dundalk Democrat.

At the preliminary hearing, 5 September 2005 was the date set for the full hearing.

See The Argus ( Dundalk ), 27 May 2005: Date set for second inquest into Seamus Ludlow murder

See also The Dundalk Democrat, 25 May 2005: Family's 30 year wait for second inquest nears end

The fresh inquest began as planned on the morning of 5 September and was concluded on the evening of the 6 September. The inquest atracted considerable interest from press and broadcast media.

 A jury of 6 men and four women unanimously returned a verdict that Seamus Ludlow's death was an Unlawful Killing, caused by gunshot wounds, with the medical cause of death being shock and haemorrhage.

A number of important points also emerged from the inquest:

Retired Dt Supt. John Courtney, who received a file naming four suspects, from the RUC in February 1979, stated that he was made aware of the four strong suspects in 1979 but was not given permission from Garda headquarters to pursue the investigation further. This was the first public admission that the murder investigation had been blocked by the Garda authorities in Dublin.
The same four suspects were questioned in 1998 and two of the men gave similar accounts of their involvement. Again, this was a first public admission.
No Garda was recorded as being given responsibility for contacting the Ludlow family for the first inquest in August 1976.
Seamus Ludlow was not murdered by the IRA nor was he a member of the IRA. The suspicion of IRA involvement had been excluded from the murder investigation within three months of the murder, though the Ludlow family were never informed. Indeed, family members were still being told this lie nearly twenty years later!
No trace of the victim's clothing or of two of the fatal bullets can be found.

See The Dundalk Democrat, 7 September 2005, for a detailed report of the inquest.

 

Much has already been written about Seamus Ludlow's death, and much of it has distorted the facts. He has been falsely accused in British and Irish quarters of being an informer for the British forces in the Six Counties - a foul charge that the Ludlow family has always denied. 

He has been alleged to have been murdered by the IRA - who have always denied that charge. It has also been falsely claimed by gardai in Dundalk that members of the Ludlow family were involved in this foul crime. 

Such evil lies - British and Irish - were spread to distract attention away from the truth that this was a sectarian murder committed in the Irish state by British state forces who may have enjoyed the collusion of the Irish authorities. 

These evil lies persisted even though, as we now know, the true identities of the Loyalist/UDR killers were known very soon after Seamus Ludlow was murdered. It is known that both the RUC and the Irish gardai had a file on at least three of the killers in 1979, if not much earlier. - that their names were known by 1977! Yet, still, they did nothing to bring the killers to justice. And still they protect them!

The Ludlow family has already exposed the smear campaign that was used to blacken the reputation of the innocent victim - both in the press and on TV, and more recently in another Ludlow family website. The Ludlow family has also given their truthful account to internationally respected human rights activists and groups. A detailed account has been published in the book "Unfinished Business State Killings and the Quest for Truth", by University of Ulster academic Professor Bill Rolston (Beyond the Pale Publications, Belfast, 2000).

 Another version of this site is available at http://www.seamusludlow.com/index.html 

In 2001, the Ludlow family marked the 25th anniversary of this foul murder with a commemoration at the memorial seen above, in the County Louth lane, near the Ballymascanlan Hotel,  where the crime was committed on 2 May 1976. 

The Ludlow family continues to hope that in the very near future there will be confirmation of an imminent public inquiry from the Dublin Department of Justice. 

Our demands for a public inquiry have met with silence from the British authorities in Belfast who have failed to acknowledge their forces' involvement in this horrific crime and the cover-up.

South of the border, the Dublin government stubbornly refuses to accede to our demands for a public inquiry into the Gardai's shameful role in this affair.

For further information about this campaign please visit our Press Coverage  page where you will find links to pages with national and local newspaper reports of important events since the murder of Seamus Ludlow.

We ask you to speak out about this terrible injustice. Support our demands for justice and truth for Seamus Ludlow. Thank you.

From the website of Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) Radio, dated 18 February 1999:

Family of man abducted and killed in 1976 claim there was a cover-up
One night at the beginning of May in 1976, a 47-year-old forestry worker, Seamus Ludlow, was abducted and shot as he was hitching a lift to his home in Dundalk. His killers have still not been brought to justice. Seamus Ludlow's family say he was an ordinary man, with no connections to any paramilitary organisation. They believe loyalists were responsible for his murder, and they claim there has been a cover-up on both sides of the border to protect his killers.

Interview with James Sharkey, Seamus Ludlow's nephew

 

SUPPORT THE SEAMUS LUDLOW APPEAL FUND

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Seamus Ludlow CD

October/November 2005: A group of supporters kindly produced a music CD in aid of  our Seamus Ludlow Appeal Fund. The CD, which is no longer available, raised valuable funds for this campaign.

The CD features as its leading track An Ode To Seamus Ludlow written exclusively for the CD by Phil McCabe and brought forth by the voice talents of Tom Moore. To Phil and Tom and to all who helped produce this excellent CD, a sincere vote of thanks.

Find out more.>>>

 

This page was last updated on 11/12/08 .

 

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The Ludlow family supports the campaign by the Rooney and Watters families of Dundalk for an inquiry into the murderous Dundalk Bombing of 19 December 1975 which resulted in the sectarian murder of Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters. Further information can be accessed at their campaign website.

Download the Barron Report (pdf file) on the Dundalk bombing - Download the International Report on Collusion - Download the Oireachtas Committee Final Report on the Dundalk bombing and other collusion attacks

Remember: You can download to your computer a complete copy of the Barron Report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow  from the Oireachtas website (pdf file)

You can also download the Final Oireachtas Sub-Committee Report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow from the Oireachtas website (pdf file)

 
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The Pat Finucane Centre

Relatives for Justice    Justice for the Forgotten

 

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Revised: November 12, 2008 .