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




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February 4 2005: See today's Daily Ireland for a report of the Dundalk bombing victims' families' anger at the British prime minister's failure to support an inquiry into collusion:


Relatives of the 1975 Dundalk bomb victims are outraged at Tony Blair for ruling out an inquiry into alleged British security force collusion with loyalists at the time of the pub blast.

 In a letter to Bertie Ahern, Mr Blair ruled out an inquiry into the 1970s bombings in Dundalk, Dublin and Monaghan.

 Maura McKeever, whose father Jack Rooney was killed in the dundalk blast, said, "I am really disappointed that Tony Blair has not made a better effort to accommodate us."

 Another man, Hugh Watters, also died when  the car bomb exploded outside Kay's Tavern in the Co Louth town's Crowe Street.

For the full report, go to >>>>.

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24 December 2004: In a statement issued by The Celtic League Secretary General, Mr Bernard Moffatt, reports that he had  written to the the Irish Minister for Justice, Mr Michael McDowell, asking why there were apparent obstructions being placed in the path of the long delayed inquest into the Seamus Ludlow murder.

Surprisingly, as Mr Moffatt reports, the Department of Justice says that the Garda Síochána has "always tried to cooperate fully with the Louth County Coroner over his enquiries into the death of Seamus Ludlow, who was murdered by Loyalist paramilitary's (very likely part of a murder gang run by the British Intelligence Services) almost thirty years ago".

A reply, dated 20th December 2004, from the Ministers Private Secretary

"The Minister is informed by the Garda authorities that legal considerations arose in relation to the Louth County Coroner's request in this matter. However, the Minister is pleased to inform you that these issues have now been resolved, and it is understood that four documents, suitably redacted, have now been forwarded to the coroner and that these are in excess of the original request.

The Minister is further assured by the Garda authorities that the Garda Síochána has at all times sought to cooperate to the fullest extent possible with the Louth County Coroner on this issue."

To read the full Celtic League statement please follow this link >>>>.

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11 November 2004: In an RTE television  news report headlined Ludlow inquest preliminary hearing soon, it is revealed:

The Louth County Coroner is to hold a preliminary hearing in the coming weeks into the death of Seamus Ludlow, the forestry worker murdered by loyalists on 2 May 1976.

Ronan McGuire recently received and is still studying the so-called Murphy Report. That was the review of the original garda investigation into the murder, carried out by Superintendent Ted Murphy in the late 1990s.

Mr McGuire said he proposed holding a preliminary hearing involving members of the Ludlow family and garda representatives to discuss the scope of the inquest.

The full hearing into the death of Mr Ludlow will take place at a later date

The complete RTE report can be accessed by clicking on this link >>>.

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31 October 2004: The following comes from the October 2004 monthly report of British Irish Rights Watch, London, compiled by the human rights group's Director, Jane Winter:

coroner finally receives copy of police file in case of seamus ludlow

At long last An Garda Síochána have disclosed a copy of the police investigation file on the murder of Seamus Ludlow to the coroner who is holding a second inquest into this 1976 murder.  Doubtless it was a coincidence that this change of heart took place after BIRW had written to the Chief Commissioner and the Attorney General saying, “It has been an open secret for some time now that Seamus Ludlow, a wholly innocent and inoffensive man, was murdered by loyalists during a border incursion by Northern Ireland soldiers who were also paramilitaries – a matter which we would have thought would have been of utmost concern to the Irish government.  We do not know what it is that An Garda Síochána has to fear from an open examination of this unforgivable murder, but their constant refusal to reveal their files, firstly to the family’s lawyers and now to the Coroner, give the inescapable impression that, either through complicity or through collusion, they have something to hide.”  Mr Justice Barron’s report on this terrible case is expected soon.

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30 October 2004: In a statement issued by Mr Bernard Moffatt, Secretary General of The Celtic League, he has criticised the obstructions placed in the path of the Co. Louth Coroner who is pursuing a reopened inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow.

As Mr Moffatt states: "The Celtic League had previously supported calls by the Ludlow family for a reopened inquest and an independent enquiry into his murder because of widespread suspicions that the loyalist murder gang involved were actively colluding with the British military intelligence services believed to be carrying out acts of violence south of the border at that time.

"The League have urged the Justice Minister to speak out and remove any impediment which blocks access by the Coroner to documentation held by the Irish Police and ensure that they cooperate fully with the inquest process."

 Mr Moffatt, has written to Mr Michael McDowell, the Irish Minister for Justice, raising his concerns about the failure of the Garda to fully cooperate with the Louth coroner. The full text of Mr Moffatt's letter can be read by clicking on this link. >>>>>

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27 October 2004 - See article by Valerie Robinson in today's issue of The Irish News:

This development followed upon the coroner's decision to draw the Garda resistance to the attention of Attorney General Rory Brady. It was the Attorney General himself who had directed the coroner to open the fresh inquest more than two years ago. Further pressure had been brought to bear by British Irish Rights Watch, London, whose Director Jane Winter had written to the Attorney General and the Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy asking them to intervene in the matter.

It is also revealed for the first time that the private Barron investigation Report has been completed and has been passed to the Irish government.

See also: The Dundalk Democrat: Ludlow report submitted to coroner

See also: The Irish Times: Government to support inquiry into killing of Louth man

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19 October 2004 - On hearing of the Garda's latest failure to hand over the internal Murphy Report to the County Louth Coroner Ronan Maguire, Jane Winter, Director of British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW), London, wrote to  the Attorney General and the Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy  seeking their intervention in the matter.

In her letter, BIRW director Jane Winter said: 

"It has been an open secret for some time now that Seamus Ludlow, a wholly innocent and inoffensive man, was murdered by loyalists during a border incursion by Northern Ireland soldiers who were also paramilitaries - a matter which we would have thought would have been of utmost concern to the Irish government."

Ms Winter said the Ludlow family had been waiting an "unconscionable" 28 years for justice.

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15 October 2004 - See this report by Valerie Robinson in today's issue of The Irish News. Among the disturbing revelations are confirmation that the Garda are in effect obstructing the County Louth Coroner in his efforts to convene a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow. It is also confirmed for the first time that two of the fatal bullets taken from Seamus Ludlow's body are missing - and the Garda have no explanation!:

By Valerie Robinson

The coroner due to reopen the inquest into the murder of Seamus Ludlow is threatening to complain to the attorney general about Garda unwillingness to cooperate fully.

Louth County Coroner Ronan Maguire was instructed in July 2002 by the attorney general, Rory Brady, to reopen the inquest into the death of the forestry worker who was murdered by a loyalist gang in May 1976.

The coroner is seeking a copy of an internal Garda report into the original investigation as part of his preparation work for the inquest.

However, gardai this week told Mr Maguire that they were seeking legal advice before making a final decision on whether they would hand over the report by retired chief superintendent Ted Murphy.

The news came as a surprise to the coroner, who had been assured by the Garda last month that he would receive a copy of the document, which has never been made public.

Use this link to read the full report. >>>>> 

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18 September 2004: See Sister 'may die' before the truth is uncovered from today's issue of The Irish News, for a report of the recent hospitalization of Mrs Kathleen Donegan, a sister of the late Seamus Ludlow. Mrs Donegan (73) has been very seriously  ill on several occasions in recent years.

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31 August 2004: See reporter Valerie Robinson's report Top garda's evidence sought in today's Irish News:

A retired senior garda is to be asked to give evidence at an inquest on a report he compiled on the original Garda investigation into the 1976 murder of Louth man Seamus Ludlow.

Co Louth coroner Ronan Maguire last night (Monday) told the Irish News that he expected to receive the report by Chief Superintendent Ted Murphy within days.

Mr Maguire, who met a number of senior Dublin and Dundalk gardai about the matter earlier this month, revealed that he hoped to receive the unpublished report by the end of the week. . . .

Use the link above to read the full report.

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14 August 2004: See the following reports of the Ludlow family's recent meeting with Justice Henry Barron in The Dundalk Democrat:

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7 August 2004: See article Barron due to publish report in today's The Irish News newspaper for further press comment on the Ludlow family's meeting with Justice Henry Barron in Dundalk.

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5 August 2004: Members of the Ludlow family met with Mr Justice Henry Barron in Dundalk. Report on Ludlow murder ready ‘in autumn’:

A REPORT into the 1976 murder of Louthman Séamus Ludlow by loyalists is expected to be completed by Mr Justice Henry Barron by late September.

But two “black holes” are hampering his private investigation, relatives of Mr Ludlow heard during their one and a half hour “progress” meeting with Judge Barron in Dundalk yesterday.

The “black holes” refer to the 28-year gap since the shooting and a possible political cover-up in 1979 after gardaí got key information on the killers’ identities.. .

Use the link above to access the complete Irish Examiner report.

Justice Barron also held a meeting with the families of the Kay's Tavern bombing victims Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters. to discuss his private inquiry's progress in their case.

See also The Dundalk Democrat,

Mr Maguire, who is preparing for the second inquest into Seamus' death, said this week that he had been requesting a copy of the report for some time and that at last he may be having some success.

"There have been long delays and it has taken a long time to get to this point. But for whatever reason I would be hopeful of having a copy of the report carried out by Superintendent Ted Murphy in the next week or so."

Seamus' nephew Jimmy Sharkey said this week that he would be happy when the copy of the entire report is handed over to the County Coroner.

"We have never seen this report. We met with Ted Murphy on a number of occasions when he was working on the report and we found him to be a decent man. But once it was completed we were not shown what it contained.

"I'd also like to know for definite if the Coroner is being given the report in its entirety," he said.

The first inquest into his death was held in August 1976. Seamus' family were not present and they say they were only informed of the hearing when it was too late to attend.

Mr Maguire says he now hopes to hold the inquest in early September, and Seamus' relatives say they will be in attendance as will retired state pathologist John Harbison, who gave a deposition at the original inquest. . .

Follow the link above to read the Dundalk Democrat article in full.

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29 July 2004: See today's Irish News for article by Valerie Robinson (Southern Correspondent)  Coroner awaiting gardai findings in murder case for the latest on the fresh inquest for Seamus Ludlow. The article begins:

A Coroner expects to learn 'within days' if he is to be given findings of an internal garda report on the original investigation into the 1976 murder of forestry worker Seamus Ludlow.

 Louth County coroner Ronan Maguire has revealed that he had a meeting with gardai in Dundalk last week during which he was told that the force was still deciding whether to supply him with a copy of the 1998 report.

Mr Maguire, who first announced details of his plans to reopen the Ludlow inquest two years ago, said the meeting had taken place nine days ago, after he was contacted by gardai.

The coroner, who had initially hoped to begin the inquest this month, said he had already been given extra sets of photographs from the 1976 investigation by gardai.. .

Follow the link above to read the article in full.

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15 July 2004: The Ludlow family lawyer speaks to the County Louth Coroner in relation to the fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow. The Coroner confirms that he has made little progress with the Gardai in terms of securing the further information he requires from them. No progress has been made in relation to access to the 1998 Ted Murphy Report. 

The Gardai have admitted for the first time that not all of the fatal bullets have been located. The bullets were tested after the murder but no reports have been produced. This is the first Garda admission that bullets are missing, since the Ludlow family was informed some months ago by Mrs Nuala O'Loan, the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, that two of the bullets were unaccounted for. It had been suspected that two bullets may have been sent north to the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratory many years ago and not returned.

As for the fresh inquest, It was proposed that it would begin on 30 July 2004. However, this date would prove to be too optimistic. The gardai remained unwilling to hand over the required documents.

See also The Irish Daily Star, 23 July 2004: Gardai in murder case 'cover-up' Family claims Barron probe will reveal it

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29 May 2004: See The Dundalk Democrat report, Ludlow inquest before the end of July for the latest on the fresh inquest for Seamus Ludlow.

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22 May 2004: The 30th anniversary of the murderous Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974, in which 34 people, including an unborn child, were killed by loyalist car bombs, was recalled in an Editorial (A Quiet Anniversary) in the local weekly newspaper, The Dundalk Democrat:  

The anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings passed this week with very little of the publicity which surrounded the atrocities 30 years ago. There was a wreath laying ceremony at the simple and beautiful memorial on Talbot Street. An taoiseach Bertie Ahern was there with other dignitaries, but the most important in attendance were the survivors and relatives of those who lost their lives in what is still the biggest act of terrorism and loss of life in Ireland during the Troubles.

The three car bombs went off within minutes of each other shortly before 5.30pm on May 17 1974. Men, women and children were killed or dreadfully mutilated in the bombings, which carried no warnings.

Less than an hour later, in Monaghan town, more lives were lost when another bomb exploded. It is hard for younger people to imagine the scene of devastation and the sense of shock which reverberated around Ireland that day. . .

There are those in Dundalk who too know all about unanswered questions. Maura McKeever, who lost her father, Jack Rooney, and Margaret Watters, whose father, Hugh Watters, was also murdered in the Dundalk bombing of 1975 know what it's like not to know.

The Ludlow and Sharkey families are still waiting for answers about Seamus Ludlow, whose murder remains one of the Troubles most murky episodes.

A full public inquiry is the only solution. It has to be asked what the government is afraid of. What are they hiding and what do they know about the shady goings-on that led to these murders and their aftermath?

Huge expense is being lavished on tribunals of inquiry into dodgy planning and political backhanders. Although these are important matters, it looks like the government has got its priorities wrong.

No-one died because of what Liam Lawlor or George Redmond did or didn't do. But in the very same city where those inquiries are taking place, dozens of people lost their lives 30 years ago and no-one really knows how or why.

The families of those who died in Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk have been promised much over the last three decades, but have got little. When the Dublin and Monaghan inquests are over, it's doubtful whether the families will know any more than they did this week 30 years ago.

Use the link above to read the Editorial in full.

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20 May 2004: Writing about the much delayed fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow, in today's The Irish News (Coroner plans inquest despite Garda hold-up), Valerie Robinson, the paper's Southern Correspondent, revealed:

An inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow looks set to take place within the next two months - despite the failure of gardai to release key documents and evidence, a coroner has said.

Louth County Coroner Ronan Maguire last night said he was determined to hold the inquest into the killing in 1976 of the Catholic forestry worker. . . , before the end of July.

He said that "one way  or the other" the inquest would take place, despite the fact that gardai have yet to hand over details of ballistics evidence and an internal Garda report compiled by Chief Superintendent Ted Murphy in 1998 into the original murder investigation.

Mr Maguire, who was ordered to hold a new inquest by Attorney General Rory Brady in July 2002, said he also hoped to meet the solicitor of the Ludlow family "quite shortly".

"I'm still waiting for information from gardai. I still haven't received information on ballistics, although I have been told it will be through shortly," he said.

Ludlow family member Jimmy Sharkey commented that the family was concerned that the coroner would be forced to adjourn the inquest pending further information from the gardai, if the force continued to refuse to cooperate fully with Mr Maguire. He accused the Garda and the Irish government of attempting to hide the truth about the killing of his late Uncle Seamus:

"The fact that there have been so many delays would suggest to us that the government has something to hide.

"We've asked repeatedly to see the internal Garda report and we've been ignored," Mr Sharkey said.

Use the link above to read the full Irish News report.

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2 May 2004: This day marks the 28th anniversary of Seamus Ludlow's foul murder: 28 years without justice and truth. It is now more than six years since four loyalist former Red Hand Commando and British Army UDR suspects were arrested by the RUC for questioning about their alleged role in this crime. They have enjoyed a further six years of freedom while the family of Seamus Ludlow continue to seek the truth behind the cover-up which still keeps them free.

The Ludlow family still waits for a second inquest that has been delayed since its formal announcement in July 2002. No formal date has been announced, though it is expected to take place before the end of 2004.

The Ludlow family also looks forward to the release of the private Barron Inquiry Report - again sometime before the end of 2004. It is hoped that the Barron Inquiry may lead to the public inquiry the Ludlow family still demands.

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31 March 2004: The Joint Oireachtas Committee has recommended that a full public inquiry into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings atrocities should be held in Britain. The Committee had held hearings over the last three months following a four-year private inquiry by retired judge Henry Barron into the bombings. Judge Barron is currently conducting similar inquiries into the Dundalk bombing and the murder of Seamus Ludlow.

The Committee, backing an inquiry in the UK, said that witnesses and those responsible for the attacks which killed 33 people as well as an unborn baby on 17 May 1974,  were likely to be outside the Irish jurisdiction. The Committee added that if the British government failed to set up an inquiry, the Irish Government should take an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Committee also called for the setting up in Dublin of two separate inquiries relating to the attacks - but, significantly not for a public inquiry in the Irish state. One inquiry should look at the original garda investigation and at why certain leads were never followed up, while another inquiry should investigate how relevant files went missing from the Department of Justice.

Margaret Urwin, spokesperson for Justice for the Forgotten, representing most of the bombings' survivors and bereaved relatives of victims, gave "very tentative welcome" to the Committee's report. She said: 

"The Committee called for answers on why key Garda files disappeared, why the original Garda investigation stopped so quickly, why an armed British army officer acting suspiciously that evening in Dublin was allowed to leave on a ferry and known suspects never pursued.

"And they have called for an international judge to be appointed. . . to be able to examine these issues across jurisdictions, just like Judge Cory with inquiries into other cases.

"Their findings now put huge pressure on Bertie Ahern to ensure Tony Blair agrees to these measures being implemented."

She added, that members of Justice for the Forgotten were "extremely disappointed" that the  Committee had stopped short of ordering a full public inquiry but welcomed its acknowledgement that further investigations were needed.

See The Irish Daily Star, 1 April 2004: Call for bombings inquiry in U.K. Dail committee reports findings.

Barron Report

Final Report on the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas on 31 March 2004. Full text available atáil/jcjedwr-debates/BarronReportFinal.pdf

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28 February 2004: See The Dundalk Democrat articles: Murder on their mind for a further report on the Ludlow family's meeting with Mr Justice Henry Barron; and Gardai have the Ludlow bullets for comment on the new inquest that is expected to commence shortly. The County Louth Coroner, Ronan Maguire, is quoted as saying that the bullets used in the murder of Seamus Ludlow are in the hands of the Gardai. This information conflicts with previous reports that two of the bullets are missing.

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23 February 2004: Representatives of the Ludlow family had a productive two-hours meeting in Dundalk with Mr Justice Henry Barron to discuss his private inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow.

Justice Henry Barron is seen here arriving in Dundalk for his meeting with the Ludlow family and their solicitor.It was an very interesting meeting in which the Ludlow family members asked many questions and helped clarify a few issues for the Mr Justice Barron. 

They called on him to inquire further into the whereabouts of the three bullets that were fired into Seamus Ludlow - it appears that only one can be accounted for and two are missing. It has been suggested that the missing bullets were sent north to the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratory. Mr Justice Barron was also asked to inquire into the present whereabouts of Seamus Ludlow's clothing which may still provide useful DNA evidence.

Mr Justice Barron revealed that his private inquiry report will not be completed and published until later in the year. He still has many queries to get answers for. It had been hoped that his report would be completed early in 2004, but there have been delays in receiving information and more needs to be done. The Ludlow family is content to wait until Mr Justice Barron has done as thorough an investigation as is possible within his remit.

The Ludlow family looks forward to eventually seeing Justice Barron's inquiry report, but that will not be the end of the fight. There are important answers which can only be found through the medium of a public inquiry. 

However, it is hoped that Justice Barron's inquiry report will help point the way to a public inquiry.

Justice Barron's narrow remit does not give him the power to compel witnesses to meet him nor answer his questions, nor can he demand the production of documents. He can not question gardai or other important witnesses under oath and the Ludlow family can not check on the honesty or otherwise of what they tell him. Witnesses can simply refuse to meet him or answer his questions - and some have done exactly that! Mr Justice Barron can not simply walk into the Department of Justice or Garda Headquarters and see what is there for himself. Nor can he do anything about the ongoing British indifference to his inquiries.

A public inquiry - perhaps led by Mr Justice Barron himself - would have the power of subpoena over witnesses and documents. Witnesses would be questioned under oath and in public. Their perjury would be seen by all. Liars would be exposed.

At the end of the meeting Mr Justice Barron accompanied Ludlow family members as they visited the memorial to Seamus Ludlow in the lane off the Bog Road where the foul murder was committed in 1976.

See also the following reports of this important meeting with Mr Justice Barron:

RTE Television News, online, 23 February 2004: Barron meets relatives of man killed by UDA

The Irish News, 24 February 2004: Relatives of 1976 murder victim meet Justice Barron

The Irish Daily Star (Northern Edition), 24 February 2004: Loyalist murder report hope

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29 January 2004: See The Irish Daily Star (Northern Edition) report  Family and former British army man hit out Barron "Failed to Serve Truth" Former spy slams report for an interview with ex-British officer Fred Holroyd.

See also: The Irish Daily Star (Northern Edition): Family wants truth about murder for a Ludlow family comment on the Barron inquiry.

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20 December 2003: See the following articles from the local Dundalk Democrat newspaper for comments on the recently published Barron Report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

The Dundalk Democrat, Editorial: No cause for optimism following Barron Report

The Dundalk Democrat, 20 December 2003: Bombing families fear truth will never be known

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10 December 2003: The long awaited publication of the private Barron Inquiry Report into the 17 May 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which caused the Mr Justice Henry Barron deaths of 33 men, women and children - plus an unborn child - and left some 240 people injured, failed to answer all the questions still being asked about this the worst single atrocity of the Troubles.

The Ludlow family, with another Barron Inquiry report into Seamus Ludlow's murder expected early in 2004, shares the Dublin and Monaghan families' disappointment in the failure of this Barron Report to bring final closure to the bereaved and injured. This failure now makes ever more pressing the families' demands for a public judicial inquiry where witnesses can be compelled to attend and give evidence under oath.

The outcome, after four years of investigation by Mr Justice Barron, and by his predecessor the late  Mr Justice Liam Hamilton, does not promote confidence in the private inquiry's forthcoming reports on the Dundalk bombing and the murder of Seamus Ludlow. These inquiries will also be hampered by missing files in the Department of Justice in Dublin and by British government indifference to requests for cooperation.

Mr Justice Barron's Report has disappointed many of the surviving victims and their relatives in that he failed to find evidence of high level collusion between the loyalist UVF murder gang and the British authorities in the Six Counties. 

Angela O'Neill, who lost her father in the attacks, said the report contained nothing that they did not already know.

"I do believe that the British State needs to be held accountable for the loss of those 33 lives... and the Irish State needs to be held accountable for their negligence in that," she said.

A solicitor representing relatives of some of the victims called for a public inquiry with powers to subpoena witnesses and documents.

"The problem is that this inquiry has been working behind closed doors for some time and simply hasn't delivered," said Des Doherty

"It's the fault of the process more than anything else - there's no other mechanism available."

He added: "How documents can go missing or cannot be found simply beggars belief."

While he did not exclude the possibility that individual RUC, UDR and British army/intelligence personnel may have been involved in a personal capacity in this outrage, Mr Justice Barron stopped short of contending that such collusion went higher. His failure to locate files in the Department of Justice - either lost or deliberately destroyed to prevent further revelations - and Britain's refusal to cooperate made such suspicions impossible to prove one way or another.

Somewhat implausibly, the Barron Report says the loyalists involved in the Dublin bombing were "capable of doing so without help" from any security forces in the North, "though this does not rule out the involvement of individual RUC, UDR or British army members".

Many, particularly in Dublin, believe the bombings were a warning shot from British intelligence for the Irish government not to interfere in the affairs of the Six Counties.  At least three of the bombing team, all now dead, have been identified as paid British informers.

Jane Winter, the director of British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW), London, who has made detailed submissions to the Barron Inquiry, said: "Forensic evidence suggested that the bombs in Dublin were very much more sophisticated than any bombs loyalists had used before or since. All went off within one and a half minutes of each other - a technical achievement never matched before or since. The implication is that they had outside help in making these bombs."

She said if collusion were found, there would be grave consequences for Britain internationally. "Here we are gaily telling the world how to run its own human rights affairs and holding ourselves up as an example of a developed democracy which doesn't do wicked things. But if Britain did collude with loyalists to bomb another country, that is an act of war."

Mr Justice Barron concluded that the then Fine Gael/Labour coalition government led by Mr Liam Cosgrave showed "little interest" in pursuing the perpetrators of the 1974 Dublin/Monaghan bombings.

The coalition government, according to the inquiry, failed to pursue the British after the prime minister, Mr Harold Wilson, told the then Taoiseach Mr Cosgrave in November 1974 they had identified the bombers and interned them.

"Following the meetings, there is no evidence that the information was passed, either to the minister for justice, or any of his officials, or indeed the Garda commissioner." This "absence of apparent interest", said Mr Justice Barron, "strongly suggested that the government made no efforts to assist the investigation into the bombings at a political level".

Mr Justice Barron said: "It can be said that the Government of the day showed little interest in the bombings."

The Barron Inquiry Report is also heavily critical of the Garda investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombing attacks, which Mr Justice Henry Barron said "remain the most devastating attack on the civilian population of this State to have taken place since the Troubles began".

The investigation, which was wound down without explanation in early 1975 - some reports say it was mothballed after only 12 weeks -  "failed to make full use of the information it obtained", according to the 288-page Barron inquiry report.

Criticising the Garda, Mr Justice Barron said: "The Garda investigation failed to make full use of the information it obtained. Certain lines of inquiry that could have been pursued further in this jurisdiction were not pursued." Detectives failed to interview suspects in Northern Ireland with the RUC's co-operation, and to collect vital forensic evidence from the bombing scenes, the report says.

However, the private inquiry found no evidence to back charges that the Garda investigation into the bombings was wound down because of cabinet interference.

The allegation was sharply rejected by the former Taoiseach, Mr Cosgrave and the former minister for justice Mr Paddy Cooney during their meetings with Mr Justice Barron.

The British army, the report said, foiled "a multiple cross-Border bombing attack in March, 1974 - two months before the attacks on Dublin and Monaghan, after it infiltrated loyalist paramilitaries.

"It does not seem believable that an attack on the scale of the Dublin bombings would be allowed to go ahead simply in order to protect an informant," said Mr Justice Barron.

Mr Justice Barron criticised the lack of co-operation by the British government, which refused to make original documents available to the inquiry. 

Following a trawl of 68,000 files, the then Northern Ireland secretary of state Dr John Reid provided a 16-page document - out of  the  millions of relevant documents it held - to the inquiry in February 2002, nearly 18 months after information was sought. With some justification, the British Government was widely criticised  over its “contempt” for the Barron Inquiry 

The Ludlow family is aware that the British authorities are also failing to provide the still ongoing Barron Inquiry with documents it requested regarding the May 1976 murder of Seamus Ludlow.

Calling for a full public inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, Greg O'Neill, the solicitor representing the Justice for the Forgotten group, said the British government must choose "whether or not it wants to be eternally suspected of being involved in supporting terrorism".

In another disturbing aspect of state obstruction  that will likely impact upon Mr Justice Barron's inquiry into the Seamus Ludlow murder and the Dundalk bombing of December 1975, a file of photographs of suspects collected by the Garda, which were shown to potential witnesses in the weeks after the bombings, "have been missing since 1993 at least".

It has been revealed that many relevant files held by the Department of Justice are missing - leading to a suspicion that they may have been shredded, thus hampering the Barron Inquiry effort at reaching the truth behind collusion in these cases. 

Speaking in Leinster House (Irish parliament), the Tanaiste Mary Harney thanked Mr Justice Barron on behalf of the Irish Government for his work on the report, and said she had no doubt its findings would be debated in the House in the New Year.

The Oireachtas committee met in private this afternoon to consider the report and it is expected to discuss its contents with its author, Justice Henry Barron.

A report into the bombings and allegations that British security services colluded with the loyalist paramilitary UVF was ordered more than three years ago by the Irish Government. No one has ever been charged in connection with the offences.

Representatives of Justice for the Forgotten, which represents about 150 survivors of the attacks and victims', met the Taoiseach in private at Government Buildings today. The group is expected to call for a full public inquiry. 

The Barron report was welcomed by Justice for the Forgotten.  Mr Greg O'Neill, solicitor for Justice for the Forgotten, said it was "an immensely important stage in the struggle of families for truth and justice".

However, three families, denouncing the Barron Report as a shambles, walked out of an earlier press conference held by the Joint Oireachtas Committee to announce the findings. Others dismissed the Report as a "re-hash of what is already in the public domain" and renewed calls for a public inquiry. 

Bernadette McNally, the chairperson of Justice for the Forgotten, said the onus was now on the Irish government to seek the full truth of the bombings. 

“It’s the responsibility of the Irish government to open every door, to force it open whatever way they can, take the responsibility for this off (Barron) and do the work they should have done 30 years ago.”

“The combination of incompetence and downright carelessness on the part of those charged with protecting the citizens of Ireland is absolutely damnable,” said Mr O’Neill.

“The time for private inquiries is over. It is no longer our burden. Damnable facts have been established, and it is now your responsibility.

“This campaign is calling on the Irish government ... to take up the responsibilities and to discharge them to the families, to the dead, to the survivors and to the people of Ireland.

“There are people who are available in this state who need to be put in the witness box and cross-examined. The time for private inquiries into these matters is over.” 

The Barron Report can be downloaded in pdf format fromáil/jcjedwr-debates/InterimDubMon.pdf

See also: 10.12.03 Statement by An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD on the publication of the Barron Report into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings 1974

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8 November 2003: The Dundalk Democrat published three articles in which Jimmy Sharkey, a member of the Ludlow family, reacted to the recent handing of the completed private Barron Inquiry report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, as well as the proposed fresh inquest into the death of his uncle Seamus Ludlow, which is now expected to take place in January 2004. 

Please use the following links to read the three articles: Dundalk bombing and Ludlow murder ignored;

Family feel inquiry will make little difference;

Inquest could be next January

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2 November 3003: In a Sunday Independent article ,  Net is closing in on Dublin car bombers, Joe Tiernan writes about the completion of the private Barron Inquiry report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974. 

Referring to the many unsolved loyalist crimes south of the border, he comments: 

"48 people were killed south of the border, yet not a single individual has been convicted of any of these murders".

Ludlow family member Jimmy Sharkey was one of the interviewees featured in this article.

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