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

 

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The Irish Times, 7 September 2005:

Inquest told of statements admitting part in killing

Elaine Keogh

An inquest into the death of a forestry worker from Dundalk, allegedly murdered by loyalist paramilitaries nearly 30 years ago, returned a verdict of unlawful killing yesterday.

The verdict came on the second day of the inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow (47), of Culfore, Mountpleasant, Dundalk, Co Louth, who was shot dead allegedly by in the back of a car after four members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) picked him up as he walked home north of Dundalk on May 1st 1976.

Dundalk Coroner's Court also heard that despite two f the four suspects being arrested by the RUC in 1998 and making statements of admission, the DPP in the North decided not to prosecute. No one has been brought before the courts.

It also emerged that just one of the three bullets recovered by the then State pathologist John Harbison could be found by gardai despite searches of four Garda stations as part of a review of the original murder investigation.

Former Garda chief superintendent Ted Murphy said in 1996 the then Garda commissioner Patrick Culligan directed him to review the original investigation, partly as a result of a request by the Ludlow family.

The family had not been at the original inquest in 1976 because they had not been told it was on.

Mr Murphy agreed it was unusual for an inquest to be concluded in a murder case where the Garda investigation was continuing. The original verdict found Mr Ludlow died from shock and haemorrhage.

Mr Murphy confirmed the evidence of former Garda inspector John Courtney, who on Monday told Dundalk Coroner's Court that the RUC gave him the names and addresses of four members of the UDA who were the suspects for the murder in 1979. He passed this information on to the Garda anti-terrorist section in Dublin, but it was never acted on.

Yesterday Mr Murphy said the investigation by Mr Courtney was thorough and he followed procedure.

In 1998, as part of his review of the original investigation, he liaised with the RUC and they arrested two of the four individuals identified to Mr Courtney back in 1979. It was subsequently decided by the DPP in the North not to prosecute anybody despite two suspects making statements of admission of their alleged involvement in the killing.

The jury found Mr Ludlow died near his home on May 2nd, 1976, and that the cause of death was shock and haemorrhage due to gunshot wounds. However it made a written recommendation to be added to the verdict, which coroner Ronan Maguire said could not under law be appended to the verdict.

The Ludlow family said afterwards they now believe more than ever that a full public inquiry was needed. A nephew, Michael Donegan, said it appeared the investigation had been "blocked".

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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: September 11, 2005