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




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The Irish Independent, 6 September 2005:

Tom Felle

Garda chiefs 'sat on murder report'

A former senior Garda officer told an inquest into the death of a Co Louth man murdered by loyalists 29 years ago that he knew in 1979 the names of four UDA members who shot him.

Retired Detective Chief Superintendent John Courtney told an inquest on Seamus Ludlow on Dundalk yesterday that he sent a report on the murder to Garda headquarters but his superiors "sat on it".

Mr Courtney, who led the murder investigation, said he was made aware in February 1979 following a meeting with RUC officers that four members of the UDA were involved in the murder. The four were "very, very strong suspects" and he requested permission from Garda headquarters to have them interviewed, but it never came.

Mr Courtney said he had ruled out IRA involvement in the murder after about three months, despite the fact that other gardai had repeatedly told the Ludlow family for years afterwards that the IRA had shot Mr Ludlow.

He said he wrote a report and it was sent to C3, the special branch in Garda headquarters dealing with subversives. "I heard no more about it. I made inquiries but was told nothing was being done."

Mr Courtney said he rang a detective sergeant friend of his in C3 and enquired about the report, but he was told "the man in charge wouldn't do anything about it". When he asked why, he got no answer.

Evidence was also given by former state pathologist Prof John Harbison who carried out the post mortem on Mr Ludlow the day after his death.

Prof Harbison said that one of the shots fired at him went through the man's hand, indicating he tried to defend himself. The fatal shot went through his heart and lung, and lodged in his back. 

The body of factory worker Seamus Ludlow (47) was found in a ditch in a laneway off the main Dundalk-Newry road on May 2, 1976. He had been shot three times in the chest at close range after being picked up by four men while thumbing home from a local pub.

The Ludlow family has claimed that four loyalists, including two Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers, were responsible for the murder, and have alleged British army collusion in his death and a Garda cover-up in the investigation that followed.

No-one has ever been charged with his murder and no group has ever claimed responsibility.

An independent commission of inquiry headed by Mr Justice Henry Barron examined the file on Mr Ludlow's murder, and submitted a report to the Government on the issue in October last year but it has not been made public.

An inquest was held in Dundalk in August 1976, but his family was never told about it.

The new inquest opened yesterday at the direction of the Attorney General and continues tomorrow.

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The Argus, 27 August 1976: Inquest hears of North Louth shooting

Monaghan County of Intrigue (1979) by the late Michael Cunningham: Quoting from Mr. Cunningham's account of his private investigation of Seamus Ludlow's murder.

The Irish Independent, 19 July 2002: Fresh inquest into death of murdered man

The Irish News, 19 July 2002: Family welcome inquest 26 years after murder

The Dundalk Democrat, 20 July 2002: Second inquest to be held into the death of Seamus Ludlow

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


The Irish News, 11 March 2003: Family 'cautious' over inquest progress

The Irish News, 21 March 2003: Loyalist murder inquiry call renewed

The Irish Sun, 26 March 2003: Report on Ludlow to be unveiled

The Irish News, 27 March 2003: Government 'will not keep Ludlow secrets'

The Dundalk Democrat, 16 August 2003: Date for Ludlow inquest

The Irish News, 7 October 2003: Coroner still awaiting copy of murder report

The Dundalk Democrat, 8 November 2003: Inquest could be next January

See also: 

The Irish News, 7 September 2005: 'Gardai evidence strengthens case for public inquiry'

The Irish Independent, 7 September 2005: Ludlow family renew plea for murder inquiry

The Irish Times, 7 September 2005: Inquest told of statements admitting part in killing

Daily Ireland, 7 September 2005: Call for public inquiry

The Belfast Telegraph, 7 September 2005: Probe call into 1976 murder



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Copyright 2005 the Ludlow family. All rights reserved.
Revised: September 17, 2005 .