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.
Ireland on Sunday, 9 May 1999:
Dundalk family demands end to lies
The family of a Dundalk man shot dead by Loyalists in 1976 believes the Irish Government colluded in a cover up
Anne Cadwallader reports:
The family of a Co. Louth man, believed shot dead by members of the UDR, is demanding to be told if the two bullets found in his body were sent to the RUC for forensic examination.
The family of Seamus Ludlow, shot dead north of Dundalk in 1976, wants an independent inquiry after one member of the murder gang confessed to his part and implicated three members of the UDR.
Ludlow, 47, a single forestry worker with no political or paramilitary involvement, was found dead on the side of the road between Dundalk and the border. He had hitched a lift home from Dundalk and was murdered by Loyalists.
It is now accepted that Ludlow was murdered in a case of mistaken identity. The real target was a Dundalk Republican who resembled him. The family believes the three UDR men were working in collusion with British military intelligence.
British/Irish Rights Watch, the Pat Finucane Centre, five TDs, two British MPs and other human rights groups are backing the family's case for a public inquiry.
One of those in the car which gave Ludlow a lift was Loyalist Paul Hosking. Unlike the others, he was not a member of the UDR. He has since spoken of how he was drinking with the soldiers who were also members of the Red Hand Commando group, before the killing.
Hosking has given a full account of his involvement to the RUC. He says he was taken aback by the murder and played no direct role in it.
The Ludlow family are still awaiting a decision by the North's DPP on whether charges are to be brought against the men named by the Co. Down Loyalist as responsible for Ludlow's death. A file on the killing was sent to the DPP in Belfast on October 23. Six months later, no decision has yet been announced.
Both the RUC and the gardai have refused the family's requests to see the respective police files on Ludlow's murder, although it took place 23 years ago this month.
The family was surprised that the pathologist's report, presented to a Dundalk inquest and later sent to their Newry solicitor's office, included no details about the calibre of the bullets which killed him.
They wonder if the bullets - two of which were found in Ludlow's body and one in his clothing - were sent North for examination. This would have presented an opportunity for covering-up if they came from UDR-issue weapons.
They point out the recently revealed fact that debris from the Dublin and Monaghan bombs of 1974, two years before Ludlow's death, was sent to Belfast for analysis and is missing since.
For years after the murder, the Ludlow's were wrongly told by the gardai that he had been murdered by the IRA as an informer. The IRA denied this claim.
No member of the family was informed in sufficient time to attend the inquest held in Dundalk on August 19, 1976.
The family has the support of Newry and Mourne district council in demanding a full inquiry.
Michael Donegan, the dead man's nephew, believes the cover-up was ordered to prevent details of other cross-border murders carried out by members of the UDR coming to light.
He also believes the Fine Gael-led coalition Government of the day was aware Ludlow had been murdered by UDR men, but it was compliant in allowing British undercover agents to cross the border and carry out murder.
"I believe there was an understanding between the British and Irish governments, which explains why there has been a cover-up. Leading politicians could be liable to charges of treason for allowing their own citizens to be murdered."
Jimmy Sharkey, another nephew, said he did not believe the story that the four-man murder gang had been drinking before the shooting.
"The Republican they were after had tattoos on his chest and arm. When Seamus' body was found, the right sleeve was pulled up. They were trying to find out if they had killed the right man.
"we want to know why the gardai suppressed evidence of the real reason for the murder and falsely told our family that Uncle Seamus had been an IRA informer."
Donegan agrees: "It makes no sense to say they crossed the border to kill any Catholic. They came from north Down and travelled through Newry, target-rich in Catholics. That theory just doesn't wash.
"They had planned this several days in advance, it was not spur of the moment. Uncle Seamus was the unfortunate victim," he said. "They have lied to us for 23 years, and we have no reason to believe they have stopped now."
Donegan has also written to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, asking why he has received no reply to two letters he sent to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson seeking support for the public inquiry.