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.





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4 January 2003 - This photograph from the recent launch of Joe Tiernan's new book appeared in the Dundalk Democrat.

Joe Tiernan signs his book, "The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings and the Murder Triangle", for Maura McKeever, daughter of Jack Rooney, who was killed in the Dundalk bomb in Crowe Street, and Jimmy Sharkey, nephew of murdered Mountpleasant man, Seamus Ludlow. (Caption from the Dundalk Democrat)

21 December 2002 : The Dundalk Democrat reports the publication of investigative  journalist Joe Tiernan's controversial new book The Dublin-Monaghan Bombings and the Murder Triangle

The book, which has been 16 years in the writing, examines the circumstances surrounding the Dundalk, Dublin, Monaghan and Castleblaney bombings as well as the murder of Seamus Ludlow and the Reavey brothers, and many other loyalist atrocities on both sides of the border during the 1970s. 

The author identifies many of those who took part in these murderous acts, for which no one has ever been brought to justice.

Please use the link above to read the Dundalk Democrat's report.

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14 November 2002 - Members of the Ludlow family, accompanied by the family lawyer, travelled to Dublin for a further meeting with Mr Justice Henry Barron, the Irish Judge appointed by the Dublin government to conduct a private inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow and the serious allegations being made by the Ludlow family. The Ludlow family had requested the meeting so that they could hear of the inquiry's progress and to enable the family to assist the respected judge by answering any questions that may arise.

In the course of a very useful meeting the Ludlow family learned that Mr Justice Barron has received practically no cooperation from the British authorities in the North of Ireland. It had been hoped that relevant RUC and British Army security files would be made available, but, disgracefully, this is not the case.

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21 September 2002 - In an article in The Dundalk Democrat, under the headline: Barron investigations lead to public inquiry into Dundalk bombing it is reported that the current Barron Inquiry into the Dundalk and Dublin/Monaghan bombings is expected to recommend a full public inquiry into it and other atrocities. The report notes:

"According to this month's edition of Magill Magazine, Justice Barron, who has been conducting an inquiry into the bombings, will not "shy away" from drawing adverse inferences from the lack of British Military co-operation received so far. . . "

Use the link above to find the Democrat's full report in our Press Coverage section. 

Use this link to read the article that appeared in the September 2002 edition of Magill Magazine that was the basis for the Democrat's report.

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21 September 2002 - In a statement  Mr Bernard Moffatt, Secretary General, Celtic League, comments on a disappointing reply he received from the Taoiseach's office regarding his recent letter regarding the Seamus Ludlow case. 

In Mr Moffatt's view of the failure of the Irish government to move to a public inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow it is "almost as if casting a light on the darker side of these British Special Operations in Ireland was now an embarrassment to be set aside".

 Mr Moffatt concludes: "The reply is extremely disappointing. Experience tells us that selective examination of matters of this nature, however eminent the Justice involved, lack the 'cauterising' ability of a full public enquiry to unearth the truth."

Use the following link to read the full text of Mr Moffatt's statement in this Ludlow family web site. 

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23 August 2002 - The Argus (Dundalk) featured an article headlined Coroner wants the law changed to compel witnesses to attend inquests in which it is noted that the Coroners Act (1962) does not command the compulsory attendance of witnesses at inquests in Ireland. It remains to be seen whether this has implications for the proposed fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow. 

Use the link above to read the Argus report in our Press Coverage section.

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28 July 2002 - Mr Bernard Moffatt, Secretary General of the Celtic League organization, a valued supporter of the Ludlow family's demands for truth and justice, reports on the Celtic League's Annual General Meeting, which was held over the weekend. The AGM discussed recent developments in the Ludlow campaign and a statement was issued.

The Celtic League renewed its support by passing the following resolution:

"This AGM: Whilst welcoming the decision of Attorney General, Rory Brady, to instruct the Coroner for County Louth, Mr. Ronan Maguire BL, to hold an inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow, the Celtic League reiterates its support for the Ludlow families request for a full and independent public enquiry."

See Mr Moffatt's full statement elsewhere on this site.

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20 July 2002 - Local LMFM Radio again reported on the recently announced fresh inquest for the murdered Seamus Ludlow:



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20 July 2002 - Ludlow family member Jimmy Sharkey comments on the proposed fresh inquest in this week's edition of the Dundalk Democrat:

Although it is not known yet when the inquest will open, Jimmy said his family did not mind a few months wait, after twenty-six years, to ensure that it will be fully prepared.

"Two of the three bullets used in Seamus' murder were sent to Northern Ireland for forensic examination and up until last March hadn't been traced. One bullet may still be in the South, though its not certain. These bullets are going to have to be traced.

"Also, the authorities never returned Seamus' clothes and so they should still be in storage somewhere".

In the meantime, the family are continuing to be involved with the Inquiry being carried out by Justice Henry Barron. But they insist that both the inquest and inquiry will be dealt with as two different issues.

As Jimmy explained: "it's twenty-six years since Seamus was murdered. Anything that comes along now can only help us. We see the inquest as yet another step, but we don't want a half-hearted effort. we want a fully-prepared inquest with all the information presented, including forensics and ballistics".

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19 July 2002 - See reports of the new development in The Irish News, The Irish Times and The Irish Independent.

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18 July 2002 - In  an early morning radio interview on local LMFM, in which he spoke about the expected fresh inquest into the death of his uncle Seamus Ludlow, Jimmy Sharkey also spoke of the Ludlow family's demand for a public inquiry.

LMFM reported the latest development in the Ludlow family's campaign for justice on its website's Home News page as follows:



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3 July 2002 - In an important new development for the Ludlow family, the office of the Irish Attorney General Rory Brady wrote to the family solicitor regarding the holding of a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow.

The family's lawyer had written on 30 May 2002 requesting of the AG that he exercise his powers under section 24(1) of the Coroners Act, 1962 and direct the holding of a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow.

The AG's representative wrote: 

I am now pleased to inform you that the Attorney General has acceded to that request, which you have made on behalf of the relatives of Mr Ludlow.

The Attorney has, by a recent letter, directed the Coroner for County Louth, Mr Ronan Maguire BL to hold an inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow.

As yet no further details as to the date of this new inquest are available. 

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27 June 2002 - In her BIRW Director's Report for June, Jane Winter referred to developments in the Seamus Ludlow case in the following terms:

seamus ludlow

We have also submitted a detailed report to Judge Henry Barron, who has begun his consideration of the murder in 1976 of Seamus Ludlow.  Seamus Ludlow was killed by northern loyalists, some of whom were serving soldiers.  Inexplicably, An Garda Síochána shut down their murder investigation after just 19 days.  We have urged Mr Justice Barron to recommend a public inquiry into this sad and sordid case. 

(Please visit British Irish Rights Watch's monthly Report at

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27  June 2002 - Members of the Ludlow family travelled to Dublin for the first of a series of meetings with Mr Justice Henry Barron, who is conducting a private inquiry into the Seamus Ludlow murder on behalf of the Dublin government.

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14 June 2002 - Jane Winter, Director, British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW), London, has  just updated BIRW's independent Report on the Death of Seamus Ludlow. The influential Report was published originally in February 1999. 

A copy of the new BIRW Report, along with the documentary evidence on which it relies,  has been sent  to Mr Justice Henry Barron, the Irish judge who leads an Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk Bombings as well as the murder of Seamus Ludlow. 

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30 May 2002 - The lawyer acting on behalf of the Ludlow family has made submissions to the Irish Attorney-General regarding a new inquest in relation to the case of  Seamus Ludlow. It will be remembered that the original inquest of 19 August 1976 was unsatisfactory in that it went ahead without any members of the Ludlow family or their legal advisers being informed in time to be present and because there was no examination of the forensic and ballistics evidence which might have helped clarify important questions which remained unanswered.

The Ludlow family feel that a new inquest could help rectify many faults that were apparent in the original, as well as take advantage of the new information that has come to light in recent times. 

See response of 3 July 2002.

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15 May 2002 - See reports from today's Dundalk Argus for Sinn Fein candidate Arthur Morgan's response to the Oliver family and further comment on the Oliver family's letter regarding the death of the late Tom Oliver.

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11 May 2002 - See  Mark Hennessy's article from  the Irish Times, regarding another family's letter to Arthur Morgan, a Sinn Fein candidate in the Irish general election campaign in County Louth. According to Mr Hennessy, this  letter was written three  weeks ago. 

However, it is only now being used in an apparent attempt to affect a particular candidate's vote in the election and the Ludlow family campaign has been dragged into the debate.

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10 May 2002 -  The Ludlow family was surprised and saddened to read reports in today's Dundalk Argus and The Times of London which threaten to drag this campaign into an arena not of their choosing. 

The reports could undermine the credibility and integrity of the strictly non-political nature of the Ludlow family's campaign for justice - a campaign organised by the Ludlow family alone and directed by no political party or grouping in the political arena.

 The Ludlow family has not sought to identify the campaign with any one political party or individual in the political arena and any attempt to use the tragic murder of Seamus Ludlow as a political football to score points off certain individuals in the present Irish general election contest will be fervently resisted.

Though the late Seamus Ludlow has not been insulted by today's press reports, the Ludlow family is appalled by the manner in which his name has been used by others on this sad occasion. 

The Ludlow family requests that the good name of Seamus Ludlow and his family's grief are shown the same respect that this family accords to all other victims and their families.

Use the links above to view today's reports.

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3 May 2002 - The weekly Dundalk Argus newspaper reports that Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne, who visited the Dundalk area a few days earlier, has stated that the investigation on the murder of Seamus Ludlow remains open. Use the link above to view the report: File still opened on Ludlow murder - Commissioner

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27 April 2002 - See the local Dundalk Democrat newspaper's report, featuring an interview with Jimmy Sharkey about his recent meeting with Mr Justice Henry Barron.

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24 April 2002 - Taoiseach Bertie Ahern complains about lack of British co-operation with an inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

Mr Justice Henry Barron, the head of a private inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974 is not satisfied with the level of co-operation from Britain, Irish TDs have heard.  

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told assembled TDs today that an official from his department has contacted British prime minister Tony Blair's office last week to request full disclosure of documents in relation to the 1974 Loyalist atrocities, which killed 33 people.

Mr Ahern claimed Justice Barron needed more information from the British government.

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19 April 2002 - Ludlow family members Kevin Ludlow and, his nephews, Jimmy Sharkey and Brendan Larkin, accompanied by family solicitor James MacGuill, Dundalk, had a productive meeting in Dublin with Mr Justice Henry Barron, regarding his proposed private inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. The family put to the judge their request for access to documents and, significantly, Justice Barron did not rule this out! 

The Ludlow family still favours the option of a public inquiry into the events surrounding the murder of their deceased relative Seamus Ludlow, but it was pointed out that the family was not suspicious of Mr Justice Barron personally, though they were suspicious of the government's proposal, considering the way they were treated in 1976, and again in 1998 after the most recent garda investigation and report was completed.

The family remain undecided as to their involvement in the proposed Barron Inquiry, but Justice Barron said that he was going ahead with his inquiry, even if the Ludlow family were not involved.

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17 April 2002 - It was claimed today that the British authorities have provided  Irish judge Mr Justice Henry Barron, investigating, privately,  the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, with an ''enormous amount'' of information. 

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said the judge had received an ''enormous amount'' of files and information. 

The details should allow Mr Justice Barron to provide an interim report by the autumn into the 1974 attacks which killed 33 men and women, Mr Ahern said.

Bereaved families and victims of the attacks have been lobbying for months for Britain to hand over security documents to the inquiry.

They accused Britain of stalling on co-operation, fuelling their suspicion that British security services colluded with loyalist bombers to plant the devices on May 17, 1974.

But during Taoiseach's Question Time in Leinster House today, Mr Ahern said a large quantity of documents had now been handed over which would allow Justice Barron to produce an interim report.

However, he added, a preliminary trawl of the documents by the judge suggested that more papers were still needed.

Mr Ahern told the House: "On the issue of Justice Barron I understand he did receive an enormous amount of information, data and files. Whether that will resolve a lot of issues I do not know.

"Certainly he has received the information he asked for and a lot of the records and from that he has highlighted areas where there are gaps and where he wants further information.

"But he is receiving co-operation and there are direct lines of assistance there that were not there.

"That has allowed him to move on very quickly and very speedily to bring us his interim report on the other side of summer," he said.

See also 24 April 2002 above for claims that British cooperation is not yet sufficient.

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11 April 2002 - The Irish Minister for Justice, John O'Donoghue TD,  responded to a Supreme Court judgment in the Abbeylara Case that may, or may not have a bearing on the State's proposal for a Joint Oireachtas Committee investigation into the murder of Seamus Ludlow, following the completion of a private inquiry by Mr Justice Barron.

The Minister has said that he is going to recommend the establishment of a Tribunal of Enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the killing, by an armed Gardai unit, of John Carthy at Abbeylara, County Longford, 2 years ago.

Speaking at the Garda College in Templemore, Mr O'Donoghue said he would recommend the establishment of the tribunal under a High Court judge at the earliest opportunity.

His remarks follow this morning's Irish Supreme Court judgment that the inquiry by an Oireachtas sub-committee could not be resumed. The court upheld an earlier ruling made regarding such inquiries by the High Court, but limited it to this particular case.

The Court decided by a majority of five to two that the Oireachtas could not conduct an inquiry which could result in findings of fact and conclusions adverse to the good name and reputation of those who are not members of parliament.

This includes a finding of unlawful killing against such a person. Mrs Justice Susan Denham said there was no power in the constitution for inquiries of this type.

However, both Mrs Justice Denham and her colleagues considered the High Court decision too wide. It had encompassed all such committee inquiries.

The court has limited its decision to this inquiry. Mr Justice Hardiman said it was impossible to anticipate what issues might arise under legislation which did not exist.

Given that any inquiry into the 1976 murder of Seamus Ludlow will also entail close examination of the Gardai's handling of the murder investigation, their lying to the Ludlow family about IRA involvement and their withholding of important evidence pointing to the guilt of known Loyalists, it remains to be seen if the Abbeylara judgment will impinge upon any inquiry into the Ludlow inquiry

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9 March 2002 - See interview with Ludlow family member Jimmy Sharkey in The Dundalk Democrat where he talks at length about the meeting with the police ombudsman in Belfast.

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4 March 2002 - In a further development, members of the Ludlow family, accompanied by a representative of MacGuill and Company, solicitors, Dundalk, and Jane Winter, Director, British Irish Rights Watch, London, met with Mrs Nuala O'Loan, Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, and two senior members of her investigations team, in Belfast. Once again, Jane Winter flew over from London that morning especially to support the Ludlow family.

The police ombudsman had written to the family's legal representative on 3 January 2002, stating that she had "detailed files" on the investigation insofar as it was carried out by the RUC.

The meeting followed approaches from the Ludlow family's legal representative, who requested that the ombudsman investigate the RUC's conduct of the original murder investigation and other relevant issues (see link below to the Sunday Tribune report of 15 April 2001).

Unfortunately, very little new information emerged from the meeting with Mrs O'Loan, who reported that their investigation left them with more questions than answers regarding the failure to arrest the four prime suspects in February 1979.

No fault was found with the RUC's handling of the case, though there were apparent gaps in the file that failed to explain why certain action was not taken at particular times. The ombudsman particularly questioned the role of the gardai in failing to act on the information that was provided by the RUC on 15 February 1979!

Some points did emerged which demand further explanation by both forces:

The ombudsman revealed that the RUC first acquired information on the four suspects for Seamus Ludlow's murder, from an unspecified intelligence source, as early as September 1977 - more than a year before this information was passed on to the gardai! No explanation could be found for the RUC's failure to pass the information to the gardai in 1977. The Ludlow family found this revelation to be very disturbing.

The ombudsman could not say if any action was taken by the RUC at that time - whether the suspects were ever arrested, questioned or placed under surveillance - or at any time afterwards. This possible inaction was not criticised by the ombudsman's team, because it was not regarded as "their murder" - it was for the gardai to take whatever action was appropriate and it was not their fault that the gardai failed to request assistance in making arrests. Not "their murder" maybe, but certainly their killers since two of them  were serving soldiers of the Crown.

No new information was available at the time of the four suspects' arrest by the RUC on 17 February 1998. Their arrest was entirely based on information that was available in February 1979 - if, indeed, not September 1977. Of course, if this intelligence was so strong as to justify four arrests in 1998, we can then justly wonder why they were not arrested in 1979 or before!

None of the above inspires confidence in the role of the RUC in this sad affair.

See Also: Meeting the Police Ombudsman for further information. 

See also: The Sunday Tribune, 15 April 2001: O'Loan asked to investigate Ludlow killing

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2 March 2002 - The local Dundalk Democrat newspaper published an interview with Jimmy Sharkey, a nephew of Seamus Ludlow,  in which he explains the implications of the Dublin government's 21 February refusal to grant a public inquiry. Jimmy gives the Ludlow family's first public reaction to this setback for the campaign for truth and justice for Seamus Ludlow.

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28 February 2002 - In her Director's Report for February 2002, Jane Winter, British Irish Rights Watch, made the following comments about her recent visit to Dublin to accompany the Ludlow family at their meeting with the Attorney General:

On 21st February I travelled to Dublin to meet the Irish Attorney General together with the family of Seamus Ludlow, who was murdered in1976, allegedly by northern paramilitaries, some of whom were serving soldiers.  His family are calling for a public inquiry, but the Irish government insists that all that is on offer is a private commission of inquiry similar to that currently looking at the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings.  The problem with that is that the family will not be able to scrutinise the evidence or submissions of police officers and others who have lied about the murder in the past.  It is a matter of great regret that the Irish government, who have been ready to support the calls for public inquiries into murders in Northern Ireland, such as those of Patrick Finucane, Rosemary Nelson and Robert Hamill, is so reluctant to apply the same standards to a murder of one of its own citizens.

See also: Jane Winter cited in The Irish News, 23 February 2002: 'Public inquiry needed'

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