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

 

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The Irish Times, 6 September 2005:

Forestry worker murdered by UDA, inquest told

Elaine Keogh

The inquest into the death of a Co Louth forestry worker murdered 29 years ago has been told that 18 months after his killing the RUC told gardai members of the UDA killed him and the names and addresses were given to senior gardai who did not act on the information.

The body of 47-year-old Seamus Ludlow was found with gunshot wounds after being dumped in a laneway not far from his home at Culfore, Mountpleasant, Dundalk, in May 1976.

His family, who campaigned for this inquest, the second into the death, have always believed he was hitching a lift home the previous night when he was picked up by loyalist paramilitaries.

They also have concerns about possible collusion. The gardai were represented by at the inquest by a senior and junior barrister.

A retired senior garda officer John Courtney, then a detective inspector with the murder squad in Dublin and involved in the Ludlow investigation, said that about 18 months later, while meeting the RUC in Belfast on another matter, two detectives said they might be able to help him.

"They gave details of what happened and the names of the persons involved. I was happy enough they would be persons involved and the suspects [responsible] based on the information they gave me."

He aid he wrote a report about this new information which was sent to the chief superintendent in the area, Dick Fahy, and on to C3, the section in Garda headquarters that dealt with subversives.

"I heard no more about it afterwards. I made inquiries and was told nothing was being done about it and that was that."

Less than a month later he followed up on it as he wanted to interview the suspects but needed "authority and I didn't get any authority to do it".

He was told by a garda in C3 that the "man in charge would not do anything about it". There was no explanation given to him, he said.

Cross-examined by Deirdre Murphy, for the Ludlow family, whether he got some explanation from headquarters, Mr Courtney said: "I suppose they sat on it in headquarters. I was anxious to interview them. I couldn't do it without authority and I didn't get any authority to do it."

Asked how often he looked for authority, he replied, "once, it might have been a month or three weeks after it. I put every effort into solving the murder".

He said that within three months he had ruled out the possibility that the IRA was responsible. For years the family said the gardai led them to believe the IRA had killed him.

In reply to a question from one of the jurors, made through the coroner, Ronan Maguire, the witness said the RUC gave him "the names, addresses and circumstances of the murder", but not the location.

He was told Mr Ludlow "was walking out the road home and was picked up. It was late at night".

Former state pathologist Dr John Harbison told the inquest the body was lying on the top of a grassy bank with its feet pointing away from the laneway. His overcoat and jacket had been thrown on top of him and he said he appeared to have been "dumped".

The postmortem revealed he had been shot three times.

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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

Daily Ireland, 7 September 2005: Call for public inquiry

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

 

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Revised: October 10, 2005