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







3 July 2002 - The Irish Attorney General has directed the Coroner for County Louth to hold a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow.  . . . . Please return for updates and important developments.    This photograph of Seamus Ludlow was taken later in his life.This is a youthful photograph of Seamus Ludlow, taken several years before his murder.This memorial stone marks the place where the dead body of Seamus Ludlow was discovered on Sunday 2nd. May, 1976. This new stone recently replaced another stone.




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The Irish Daily Star, 23 July 2004:


Gardai in murder case 'cover-up'

Family claims Barron probe will reveal it



By Mick Browne

 The family of a murdered man claimed last night that retired judge Henry Barron's probe into the unsolved killing will reveal a garda cover-up.

 Relatives of 47-year-old Seamus Ludlow - found dead near the border in May 1976 - said the report will show gardai were told of his killers' identities by the RUC in 1979, but did not request their arrest.

 Barron probes allegations that evidence was suppressed

Gardai are accused of a cover-up in '76 murder

 Family claims killer was a British agent



by Mick Browne

 The family of a bachelor found dead near the border has claimed that a probe into the unsolved killing will reveal a Garda cover-up.

 And the family has alleged to have been the victims of garda harassment since the killing, which is being probed by retired judge Henry Barron.

 47-year-old Seamus Ludlow, a bachelor from Mountpleasant, Co. Louth, was found dead in Culmore, near the Louth border on 2 May 1976.

 The murder was claimed by loyalist terror group Red Hand Commando (RHC), but since his death, Seamus' family has been campaigning for a public inquiry.

 Mr Ludlow's family believes the man who shot Seamus was a British security force agent.

 And they claim that elements within the Garda Siochana covered up the case to help their counterparts across the border, who were engaged in the 'dirty war' against the Provisional IRA.

 Seamus Ludlow was found dumped in a country lane not far from his home after being shot three times at point blank range.

 Jimmy Sharkey, one of Seamus' nephews, spoke exclusively to The Irish Daily Star this week.

 He said: "This was one of a string of murders along the border which have been linked to British military intelligence and loyalist gangs, but for which no one was ever quizzed.

"Barron has told us that his probe may not be completed until the end of the year, but said he would inform us of his progress.


 "But he told us when we met he asked a Garda why he suppressed evidence, and although he would not tell us the reason, it would be in his report."

 The family believes the report will show An Garda Siochana was told of the gang's identities by the RUC in 1979, but failed to request their arrest.

 The family also says the report will show the gun used to shoot Seamus may have been an official UDR service weapon used in the murder of a Protestant man a month later in June 1976.

 This has been confirmed to the family in meetings recently with both Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan and by Henry Barron, who at different times have examined the case files.

 One man alleged to have been involved in the killing of Seamus was Paul Hosking from Comber, Co Down

 In 1998 in a number of newspaper interviews, hosking remorsefully claimed that as a young man he spent May 2 1976 - the day Seamus was killed - drinking with the other three in loyalist Comber, Co Down.

 Hosking claimed they then drove in an unnamed man's car to Dundalk, Co Louth to abduct a Provisional IRA man, before snatching Ludlow instead, who was hitching a lift home.

 Hosking said that as the car stopped he got out to go to the toilet, and heard banging and saw an accomplice shooting Ludlow who was then bundled out and dumped on a hedge.

 Despite Hosking's claims, the North's Director of Public Prosecutions failed to recommend any charges.

 Seamus' nephew Jimmy is more confident of answers being given  than at any time in the 28 years since the murder.

 He said: "From the beginning, Gardai spread smears another family member shot Seamus, and also tried to label him an informer, something we all hotly contest.

 "The killing happened in this jurisdiction, so it was up to the gardai to request that they be lifted. But, instead, they misled Seamus' brother Kevin on a number of occasions.

 "There is the inquest into Seamus' killing, due to re-open next week.

"It was unprecedented for us to get a second inquest, as the first one in 1976 was held without us being properly informed or present and no ballistics evidence."

 Jimmy believes it will probably be opened and then halted, pending the handover of a 1998 Garda file on the case, which the family claims the Gardai are still withholding.

 "We never thought we would get any satisfaction in seeing any of the Garda prosecuted, but we have proof now that the gardai suppressed evidence, so hopefully it will lead to Barron calling for a public inquiry."


Gang member confessed in 1998

In 1998, Paul Hosking told a newspaper he was one of the gang involved in the killing of Seamus Ludlow.

 Hosking claimed in a Sunday Tribune interview that he, and three other men who cannot be named for legal reasons, were the gang which killed Seamus Ludlow.

 All four members of the gang were then arrested in the North and questioned, but no charges were pressed against any of them for Ludlow's murder.

 One of them was sentenced to life for his role in the bungled sectarian shooting of a Protestant not long after Ludlow's murder - but the man served less than half of the 'life' sentence.

 And after his 1998 arrest and questioning, another member of the gang, who now lives in England, revealed in an interview to his local English paper why he had been arrested.

 In the interview, the gang member also boasted that he had also been quizzed by police over the October 1976 killing of the then Sinn Fein vice-president Maire Drumm, who was shot by loyalists as she lay in her bed in the Mater Hospital in north Belfast.

And the gang member revealed to his interviewer that he had ties to all of the major loyalist terror groups in the North, including the Red Hand Commando.

Barron probing alleged cover-up

By Mick Browne

 The Ludlow case is one of those the Government directed be investigated by retired judge Henry Barron.

 Mr Barron is also probing the Dublin bombings of 1972-3, Dublin-Monaghan of 1974, and Kay's Tavern in Dundalk in 1975

 Seamus was abducted and murdered by a four-man 'death squad' as he made his way home from a night in a pub in Dundalk, Co Louth, on Saturday 1 May 1976.


The killing was claimed by the loyalist Red Hand Commando terror group, and for years was thought to be a case of mistaken identity.

 Jimmy Sharkey says his family accepts the gang came to Dundalk to snatch an IRA man, who has since died, but having failed to find him, they snatched Seamus.


But despite the RUC knowing their identities within at least one year, the gang was not questioned until one of those present, Paul Hosking, made a statement in 1998, although they were released without charge.

 it was reported in 1998 that Hosking had originally confessed to an RUC Special Branch officer about his role in 1976, but was told 'Forget it, it's political'.


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The Irish News, 20 May 2004: Coroner plans inquest despite Garda hold-up

The Dundalk Democrat, 22 May 2004: A Quiet Anniversary

The Dundalk Democrat, 29 May 2004: Ludlow inquest before the end of July

The Irish Sunday Mirror, 13 June 2004, Ken Murray Our Man in the House column: Why the high failure rate?


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Copyright 2004 the Ludlow family. All rights reserved.

Revised: July 24, 2004 .