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




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Latest Reports:

15 November 2005 - 6 July 2005

15 November 2005: The family of the murdered Belfast human rights solicitor Pat Finucane met with Dermot Ahern TD for Louth, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, in Dublin. 

Daily Ireland (16 November) reports:

Speaking after yesterday’s meeting, Mr Finucane’s former business partner and family solicitor Peter Madden told Daily Ireland that the Irish government had been urged to consider taking legal action against the British government.
Mr Madden said there appeared to be two options available to the British government. The first was to establish an inquiry under the Inquiries Act. The second was to announce that a proper inquiry could not now take place without the involvement of the Finucane family.
“We made it very clear to the minister that the family are not going to take part in any inquiry established under the new act,” said Mr Madden.
“The new act removes control away from a panel of judges and places it into the hands of a minister in the government which stands accused in this case.
“The family have asked the Irish government to continue supporting them in whatever stand they take in the time ahead.
“The minister made it clear that the British had violated the Weston Park agreement in relation to Pat’s case and in relation to not following Judge Cory’s recommendations.
“He pledged the Irish government’s continued support for the family.”
Mr Madden said the Irish government had not ruled out mounting an international legal challenge against its British counterpart . . .

Mr Ahern has shown no such support for his constituents in the Ludlow family. He and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern have never formally met with the Ludlow family to discuss their concerns, and their government has yet to agree to demands for public inquiries in Dublin on this and the other cases involving collusion with loyalists in the murder of Irish citizens in the 26 Counties. 

Given this poor track record in their own jurisdiction, the British authorities will not be unduly worried by criticisms from Mr Ahern and his government. 

They should lead by example and shame the British government into finally doing right by the Finucane family and the other victims of collusion in the North.

The Ludlow family fully supports the demands of the Finucane family for truth and justice for their murdered husband and father. Their case is a damning indictment of British policy in Ireland.

See also: Daily Ireland, 16 November 2005: Finucanes call for lawsuit for the full text of the article quoted above.

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13 November 2005, Read this short article from The Sunday World (Northern edition), by Jim Campbell Truth is out there

Mr Campbell asks if loyalists got away with murder in the 26 Counties because of garda incompetence or because of garda collusion with the RUC in the protection of agents within the death squads. Though Seamus Ludlow is mentioned, the main focus of the article is on the sectarian murder of Christy Phelan, near Sallins, County Kildare, yet another forgotten loyalist atrocity in the 26 Counties.

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11 November 2005: Read four excellent articles about the publication of the Barron Report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow from the local Argus newspaper, Dundalk, published today:

 Four suspected of killing named

 Family’s call for a full public inquiry remains unchanged

“We’re overjoyed all we wanted was truth of killing to emerge”

Gardai were ordered to ‘abandon’ plans to interview four suspects

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8 November 2005: In a disturbing development for the families of victims of British state killings, and victims of collusion with loyalist death squads, unionists have been assured that members of the British army and police forces arrested for crimes before the Belfast Agreement will be treated the same way as republican 'on-the-runs' who are allowed to return to the North without prosecution. 

As the British government prepares to unveil its controversial proposals the Northern Ireland Secretary insisted no one should be treated like a second-class citizen under the judicial process. 

He, of course, ignored the fact that Britain's killers in Ireland - including the suspected UDR killers of Seamus Ludlow - have always been protected against the prospect of facing the judicial process. Time and time again soldiers and police have avoided prosecution, and the murder of Irish civilians has never been seen to ruin a soldier's career in the British forces.

Disgracefully, Britain's Secretary of State, Mr Peter Hain today said: "Any member of the security forces who might find themselves charged of crimes pre-1998, should not suffer any discrimination compared with those involved in paramilitary activity, loyalist or republican, who benefit from the scheme and come through out on licence." 

"This is a proper judicial scheme and members of the security forces should at least be treated equally."

The fact remains that British forces and their agents in Ireland have never been "treated equally" with republican paramilitaries. There are no British Army or RUC 'on-the-runs', so there can be no equivalence with those who have always faced the possibility of arrest and prosecution.

Mr Hain's raising of this issue will surely enrage the many relatives of the victims of British state killing in Ireland, who will now see their loved-ones murderers protected by law.

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8 November 2005: See report from today's Irish Times newspsaper: Ludlow family seeks sworn public inquiry where a Ludlow family statement is explained. 

See also: The Dundalk Democrat, 9 November 2005: Full public inquiry is Ludlow aim

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8 November 2005: See The Belfast Telegraph report of a press release from Margaret Urwin, Secretary of Justice for the Forgotten, press: Victims group questions report into loyalist killing:

A key finding of the Barron Report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow by loyalists does not "hold water", a victims' group spokeswoman said today.

Margaret Urwin from the Justice For The Forgotten organisation, which represents people in the Republic who have suffered from bombings and shootings, queried Irish judge Henry Barron's findings on the failure of gardai to interview four suspects in the Ludlow murder.

The RUC disclosed the suspects' identities to the southern authorities in 1979 and Mr Justice Barron found that the "only credible explanation" was because they did not want to set a precedent of closer co-operation with the RUC during interviews.

Ms Urwin said she did not accept the reasons given in the Barron Report for the quashing of Garda Detective Superintendent Dan Murphy's request for permission to speak to the suspects by his superiors in Garda headquarters. . .

To read the whole Belfast Telegraph report go here.>>>

To read the press release from Justice for the Forgotten go here.>>>

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5 November 2005: In a Belfast Telegraph exclusive report, Michael McHugh, spoke to Paul Hosking, one of the four loyalist suspects named by Mr Justice Henry Barron in his private inquiry report that was published under parliamentary privilege by an oireachtas committee on Thursday.

Mr Hosking admits to have been present when Seamus Ludlow was murdered, but he maintains his innocence of the crime.

In an extraordinary statement Mr Hosking:

said he was tired of having the finger pointed at him and added that he may make a submission to the Irish Justice Committee, which will consider the report in January.

"This has been going on for years and I am fed up with it," he said. "I feel like I am the victim, it is awful for my family and they have gone through hell."

While the Ludlow family is sorry to hear that Mr Hosking's family has suffered, he should be reminded that the victims here are the murdered Seamus Ludlow and his family who have lived through almost thirty years of loss and pain, aggravated by lies and smears which helped keep him and his companions free from justice. 

To read the article go here >>>

See also: The News of the World, 6 November 2005: I'm no killer, says 'branded' UDA man Loyalist hits at Report; and The Sunday Life, 6 November 2005: 'Murder car' man feels like a victim

Daily Ireland,  5 November 2005: Ludlow suspect in swap deal

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5 November 2005: Writing in today's Irish Independent, Maurice Hayes, commenting on the publication of the Barron Report on Thursday, concludes with the suggestion:

Maybe the time has come to draw a line under the past to agree to a closure of the books and to move on from there.

While kind advice is always welcome, Mr Hayes should know that the Ludlow family takes advice from their legal representative and their friends, and not from columnists in the Irish Independent who know nothing of the loss this family has suffered.

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5 November 2005: Read this important Editorial from The Irish News: Ludlow family deserve justice

See also: The Irish Independent - Editorial, 5 November 2005: A different country; and The Irish Independent, 5 November 20095: Garda chief vows to clear his name in Ludlow probe inquiry

The Irish Examiner, 5 November 2005: Wren rejects claims of links to Ludlow case

The Irish Times,  5 November 2005: Wren rejects claim on role in Ludlow inquiry

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4 November 2005: See  this report from LMFM Radio:

Ludlow family not ruling out legal action against Gardai

The family of loyalist murder victim Seamus Ludlow say they haven’t ruled out taking legal action against the Gardai. The 47 year old forestry worker was shot dead by members of the Ulster Defence Regiment in May 1976, close to his home at Thistle Cross, outside Dundalk. A report published yesterday evening, revealed that even though the killers’ identies were known this side of the border 18 months later, no action was taken, for fear that the IRA would attack the Gardai for co-operating with the RUC. Seamus Ludlow’s brother, Kevin, says they could still take legal action.

See also, the following press coverage of yesterday's publication of the private Barron Report:

The Irish Times, 4 November 2005: Ludlow report criticises Garda investigation

The Irish Times, 5 November 2005: A quiet man known for his charity

The Irish Times, 4 November 2005: 'If the IRA had killed him we would have been treated better

The Irish Times, 4 November 2005: Former senior Garda officers may be called to Oireachtas committee

The Irish Times, 4 November 2005: Former Garda chief threatens action

The Irish Times, 4 November 2005: Former Garda chief criticised murder investigation

The Irish Times, 4 November 2005: Garda stopped from quizzing suspects

The Irish Independent, 4 November 2005: Ludlow family insists public inquiry is crucial for justice

The Irish Independent, 4 November 2005: Security concerns 'halted murder pursuit'

BBC News online: 4 November 2005: Call for public inquiry into 1976 murder

RTE News online, 4 November 2005: Wren rejects Barron report finding

The Irish Sun, 4 November 2005: Storm as Ludlow report is revealed

Daily Ireland, 4 November 2005: Ludlow relatives accuse authorities of not pursuing killers because of fear of upsetting British Family lashes government

The Irish News, 4 November 2005: Ludlow murder 'a random sectarian killing

Irish Daily Star, 4 November 2005: No result in death probe Gardai ignored RUC tip on loyalist killers of Louth man

The Belfast Telegraph, 4 November 2005 Relatives of man killed by loyalists urge police action probe

The Irish Examiner - Editorial, 4 November 2005: Family needs a full-scale inquiry

The Irish Examiner, 4 November 2005: Report critical of handling of Ludlow case

The Irish Examiner, 4 November 2005: 'We think this goes right to Cabinet level'

The Irish News, 5 November 2005: Ludlow family call for public inquiry into death

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3 November 2005: It has been a long and hectic day for the Ludlow family, and a day filled with drama, disappointment, shambolic confusion, and finally relief that another phase of the Ludlow family's campaign for justice has been completed. 

At last the private Barron Inquiry Report has been puiblished, more than twelve months after it was received by the Dublin government. 

By all accounts the 100-page Report is complete, there being no deletions or redactions. 

Earlier in the day, the Ludlow family were not at all happy with the way they were being treated by the government and the oireachtas committee regarding the timing and the important detail of invitation or non-invitation to the event. 

As of yesterday (Wednesday) evening the family were being led to believe that the Barron Report would not after all be published until Friday morning. Then, late Wednesday Jimmy Sharkey was informed by a journalist the the Report would indeed be published on Thursday. No formal notification was forthcoming from the government or from the oireachtas committee.

This apparent snub angered the Ludlow family! In the absence of such an official invitation it was decided that the Ludlow family would not be going to Dublin. The Ludlow family would not allow themselves to face press queries about a Report they had not seen!

Jimmy Sharkey and his uncle Kevin Ludlow spoke out against this governmental failure on local LMFM Radio, and his anger got through to the authorities in Dublin - they must have been asked to comment on their failure. 

Was it a breakdown of communications or was there something more sinister involved? These were the questions that came to mind.

It was seen as yet further proof of the state's contempt for the Ludlow family and consistent with the contempt the Ludlow family have been facing for almost thirty years now.

The government was clearly shaken by the press and family reaction to their mishandling of the Ludlow family's interests.  Michael McDowell, Minister for Justice, addressed the issue with an announcement in Leinster House. He said that copies of the Report would be rushed up to Dundalk for the family before 3.00pm. He regretted that the family had not been kept informed.

It was then decided that Ludlow family members would go to Dublin. 

Relatives of Seamus Ludlow were really looking forward to getting the Barron Report. Imagine their dismay when, while still in travelling to Dublin, they received a phone-call from solicitor James MacGuill, informing them that there may be no publication of the Report that day after all, it could be postponed until Friday.

This made the relatives of Seamus Ludlow really angry, not knowing what games were being played in Dublin. They were determined to go on to Dublin and raise pure hell until they got the Barron Report, or at least a satisfactory explanation for the latest setback. On arriving in Dublin they found that the media people waiting at the hotel, were just as puzzled and angry as they were.

It was nearly two hours later before confirmation came through that the oireachtas committee would be publishing the Barron Report at 5.00pm. The Ludlow family and their solicitor would receive copies of the Report at 4.00pm so that they could read through it before it was published.

The published 100-page Barron Report names all of the loyalist suspects and Judge Barron is highly critical of the Gardai for their failure to go after the suspects after 1979. He points out that files are missing from Gardai Headquarters and the Department of Justice. He points the finger of blame for the failure to prosecute at Laurence Wren, a former Assistant Garda Commissioner. 

In a letter sent to three weeks ago Mr Wren warned Mr Justice Barron that he had no intention of accepting the conclusions about his role that appear in the published Report. He wrote: "If the report is eventually published as it now stands, I will be compelled to take corrective action to clear my name." 

Mr Justice Barron did not find evidence of collusion, but that is hardly surprising since the British authorities in the North gave him practically no cooperation, and many files in Dublin are missing, incomplete or were never mmaintained. He was not allowed to find the evidence of collusion. All the more reason in the Ludlow family's view, for a public inquiry.

Sometime after the Barron Report's publication, and many press, TV and Radio interviews the Ludlow family group went to the RTE studios where Jimmy Sharkey and James MacGuill, (Ludlow family solicitor) and Paul O'Connor (of the Pat Finucane Centre, Derry) were interviewed on air on the Prime Time programme. 

In all of these interviews - outside Leinster House, at Buswell's Hotel, or at RTE - the Ludlow family maintained that the Barron Report cries out for a fully independent public inquiry as the only way to get to all the facts of the case and to finally secure justice for the late Seamus Ludlow

Download the Barron Report from the Oireachtas website (pdf file)

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3 November 2005: Statement issued by Mr Michael McDowell, Minister for Justice:

Minister McDowell welcomes Oireachtas scrutiny of Report into murder of Seamus Ludlow

Mr Michael McDowell T.D., Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, today welcomed the decision of the Oireachtas to refer to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the tragic death of Seamus Ludlow some 30 years ago. 

The Minister also noted that the Joint Committee will consider, as well as the Report itself, observations made by former Commissioner Wren and Mr. Justice Barron.  The Minister said he looks forward to examining any recommendations the Committee may consider making and added that he does not consider it appropriate to make any further comment at this stage pending the Joint Committe's full consideration of the matter.

The Minister said he wished to offer his sincere condolences to the family of the late Seamus Ludlow and he expressed the hope that the work of the Commission of Inquiry and its referral to the Oireachtas Committee would go some way towards alleviating their continuing distress.

See also:, 3 November 2005: Ludlow murder was 'random sectarian killing' - Barron

UTV news online, 3 November 2005: 'Barron report to be published'

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2 November 2005: The following appeared on the Dundalk El Paso Times website. The report confirmed intense speculation that the Barron Report was about to be published. The Ludlow family was hearing reports from journalistic sources that the Barron Report would be published either Thursday or Friday.

The El Paso Times  site reports:


Speculation is mounting that the Barron report on the murder of North Louth man Seamus Ludlow, will be published tomorrow. The killing of the 47 year old forestry worker by a gang of loyalists in 1976, has been investigated by former Justice Henry Barron. According to sources, his findings are being presented to the government today.

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29 October 2005: From the Dundalk-based Elpaso Times website:


The Taoiseach has told the Dáil that the Barron Report into the murder of Co Louth man, Seamus Ludlow is likely to be published in the next few weeks. Mr Ludlow’s body was found dumped near Ballymascanlon, close to the border with Co Armagh, after he was picked up by a UVF gang in Dundalk in the summer of 1976. Members of the Gardaí are expected to come in for criticism in the report for the manner in which the investigation was handled. It is understood that the delay in publishing the report arose from difficulties in identifying then members of the gardai who were implicated in the case, and are still living.

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26 October 2005: The following welcome news was reported on the website of the local LMFM Radio station:

Taoiseach says report into Ludlow killing to be published soon

The Taoiseach has told the Dail that the Barron Report into the murder of County Louth man Seamus Ludlow is likely to be published in the next few weeks. Mr Ludlow was found dead at Ballymascanlon, close to the border with County Armagh, after he was picked up by a U-V-F gang in Dundalk in the summer of 1976. Members of the Gardai are expected to come in for critcism in the report.

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25 October 2005: Supporters of justice can now make a donation to our Seamus Ludlow Appeal Fund in return for a copy of a special music CD produced by kind supporters of the Ludlow family campaign. 

The CD features as its leading track An Ode To Seamus Ludlow written exclusively for the CD by Phil McCabe and brought to you by the voice talents of Tom Moore. To Phil and Tom and to all who helped produce this excellent CD, a sincere vote of thanks.

If you are a lover of good Irish music and you would like to contribute to our Seamus Ludlow Appeal Fund just send an e-mail to for details about how to get a copy of the CD.

Find out more.>>>

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16 October 2005: See today's Sunday World (Northern edition only) for journalist John Keane's detailed report on thre murder of Seamus Ludlow: 30 years on - secrets behind an evil killing Gardai blamed IRA gang.

John Keane had written about the murder of Seamus Ludlow for the Sunday World back in May 1976, when he was one of the few journalists to speculate that this was a loyalist sectarian killing in County Louth. (John Keane's original 1976 Sunday World report can be accessed from this site's Press Coverage page.)

The latest two-page article reports that the four-man loyalist killer gang (with their identities revealed for the first time in a national Sunday newspaper) visited several pubs in Dundalk known to be frequented by their intended target, now deceased (who is also named for the first time).

The circumstances of the murder of Seamus Ludlow on May 2 1976 are described in some detail.

 The Sunday World report continues:

Unable to find their man the gang was heading home when it encountered the unfortunate Seamus Ludlow hitching a lift.

Mr Ludlow was put into the back seat of the car and he directed them to his home at a crossroads on the main Newry road.

The car turned right at his home but carried on down the side road for a further 500 yards.

After stopping the killers ried to pull their victim from the car but succeeded only in pulling off his jacket.

One of them then fired three bullets into him in the back of the car and they dumped his body on top of a ditch. . . 

To read John Keane's full report for the Sunday World use this link.>>>

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30 September 2005: See today's Dundalk Argus report Minister raised Ludlow murder with NI Secretary, where it is confirmed that Foreign Affairs minister Dermot Ahern has raised the Seamus Ludlow murder with the British Secretary of State in Belfast.

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28 September 2005: RTE News reports that Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern, who is also TD for County Louth, says the still unpublished Barron report into the May 1976 murder of Seamus Ludlow raises serious questions

There are still no indications as to when the Barron Report, received by the Dublin government in October 2004, is to be published.

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23 September 2005: See important article on the Ludlow Murder Cover-up, from The Phoenix, a Dublin news magazine:

Ludlow had been shot by a British counter-insurgency loyalist proxy gang based in Newtownards and controlled by the MRF (Military Reaction Force) - forerunners of the notorious FRU (Force Research Unit). They had been tasked with killing a Catholic (since deceased) who had ostensibly gone on the run after weapons were discovered near his Co. Down home. This individual was in fact an MRF agent sent south to infiltrate the IRA. Given a choice he couldn't refuse, he became an IRA double agent. The loyalist proxy gang (led by a UDR officer) failed to locate him in Dundalk and murdered the innocent Ludlow on the way back to base.

The above confirms much of what the Ludlow family has been saying about this foul murder for years. Use this link to read the complete article.>>>>

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21 September 2005, See The Dundalk Democrat: Jury was on the verge of a walkout and The Dundalk Democrat: We were afraid to talk back Sisters break their silence

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20 September 2005: Another important development, reported by local LMFM Radio News:

Council seek public inquiry into Ludlow killing

Louth County Council is to write to the Taoiseach and Minister for Justice seeking a full, public and independent inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. It follows the adoption of a motion tabled by councillor Tomas Sharkey. The saw mill worker was shot dead by loyalists in May 1976 and an inquest earlier this month heard that gardai knew the identities of his killers within 18 months of the murder, but failed to take any action.

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11 September 2005: See today's statement from Mr Bernard Moffatt, Secretary General of the Celtic League, an organisation that has given the Ludlow family valuable support for a long time now: 


Ireland's Foreign Minister should have no difficulty in his avowed
intent to persuade the British government that they should act over
the murder of Co. Louth forestry worker, Seamus Ludlow, almost thirty
years ago.
In November 2000 the Northern Ireland Office, Security Policy and
Operations Division, assured the Celtic League that it would be keen
to pursue any information pertaining to the killing. . .

To view the full statement from the Celtic League use this link.>>>>

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9 September 2005: See The Argus, a local Dundalk newspaper, for these two reports of this week's fresh inquest for Seamus Ludlow:

Identity of Ludlow's killer known to Gardai

Unlawful Killing

See also: The Dundalk Democrat, 21 September 2005, Jury was on the verge of walkout

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9 September 2005, See RTE News online: Ahern to raise Ludlow murder with Hain

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, and TD for Louth, Dermot Ahern, has said he will raise the sectarian murder of Seamus Ludlow by loyalists with the British  Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain.

The Ludlow family had asked the minister to raise the issue to find out why no one was ever prosecuted for the murder, despite the fact that two men made statements in 1998, admitting their role in this foul murder.

However, the Director of Public Prosecutions in Belfast decided not to press charges. This extraordinary failure to prosecute Seamus Ludlow's alleged killers has never been explained.

No doubt the Ludlow family have many questions for the British authorities regarding their role in protecting the UDR/Red Hand Commando killers of Seamus Ludlow.

See also: 9 September 2005, News: Ahern To Raise Ludlow Murder With Hain

10 September 2005, The Irish News: Minister to raise 1976 murder with secretary

10 September 2005, The Irish Examiner: Ahern to raise issue of Ludlow murder

10 September 2005, Daily Ireland: Minister to raise murder

10 September 2005, Daily Ireland: Letters to the Editor - Garda deficiencies run very deep

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8 September 2005: See this report from today's edition of The Irish News, It has certainly been a busy and eventful week for the Ludlow family: O'Loan had concerns over Ludlow probe

Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan had concerns over the investigation into the loyalist murder of Co Louth man Seamus Ludlow, it has emerged. Although Mrs O'Loan could not mount a probe as it was outside her jurisdiction, she examined both RUC files and Garda material relating to the killing of the forestry worker almost 30 years ago. . . 

For the full report use this link.>>>>

See also: The Irish Sun: Tell us what you know about Seamus's murder for a report of Joe Costello TD's (Irish Labour Party)  welcome call on Taoiseach Brertie Ahern to publish the Barron Report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow as soon as possible because of the disturbing disclosures that came from this week's second inquest at Dundalk courthouse.

The private Barron Report has been with the Irish government since October 2004, and still there is no known date for its publication.

See also:

The Irish Sunday Mirror, 11 September 2005: Publish or be damned

The Irish Examiner, 8 September 2005: A file will always remain open, say gardaí - this report names the four loyalist suspects who were arrested by the RUC in 1998.

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7 September 2005: See the weekly Dundalk Democrat newspaper's detailed report of the two-day fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow.

This report features detailed accounts of evidence given by former state pathologist Professor John Harbison, who carried out the post mortem examination in 1976. Also featured are reports of evidence given by former detectives John Courtney, who collected a file from the RUC in February 1979 which named the four loyalist suspects in Seamus Ludlow's murder, and Ted Murphy, the man who conducted the most recent investigation in 1998.

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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7 September 2005: The following report appeared today on the UTV News online:

WEDNESDAY 07/09/2005 12:49:19  

Taoiseach urged to publish Ludlow murder report

The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is being called on to publish the report on the investigation into the 1976 murder of Seamus Ludlow. . .

Labour spokesperson for Justice Joe Costello says the investigations at the time raise serious questions about the administration of justice on both sides of the border.

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6 September 2005: A jury at Dundalk courthouse today returned a verdict of unlawful killing, in accordance with the wishes of the Ludlow family, at the end of the second inquest into the murder of  Seamus Ludlow. The inquest lasted two days.

Speaking afterwards to the press and on national RTE television News bulletins, the Ludlow family reiterated their demand for a public inquiry into the murder, saying the inquest had raised many unanswered questions. 

There was nothing at all revealed from the private Murphy report on the original murder investigation, much to the dismay of the Ludlow family. The inquest had been delayed for more than three years because of the refusal of the gardai to hand this and other documentation over to the coroner Ronan Maguire. 

When the Murphy report was eventually handed over to the coroner it was on the basis that it remained confidential. The coroner would be entitled to submit sections of the report in the form of submissions to the inquest at his discretion, though this did not happen. Thus, many of the answers the Ludlow family hoped this report would provide remain hidden away.

It was also confirmed that two of the fatal bullets used in the killing of Seamus Ludlow are indeed missing. No trace of them has been found and no explanation for their disappearance has been offered. In a revelation further disquieting for the Ludlow family it was also revealed that Seamus Ludlow's clothing, which might still be useful for forensic and evidential purposes, have also disappeared. Again, no explanation was given!

These men had been identified to gardaí 19 years earlier as the killers of Seamus Ludlow, but when the information was passed on to Garda Headquarters, nothing happened.

In 1996, then Chief Superintendent Ted Murphy was asked by the Garda Commissioner to re-examine the case surrounding the murder of Seamus Ludlow.

Seamus Ludlow was murdered by a gang of four loyalists, now known to be members of the British Army UDR and the Red Hand Commando murder gang, just outside Dundalk on 2 May 1976. An inquest was held shortly afterwards, without the Ludlow family being informed or present, but the Attorney General in 2002 directed a new inquest be held as a result of new information.

Yesterday former Chief Superintendent John Courtney told the inquest that he was given the names and address of four men by the RUC in 1979 whom he believed had carried out the murder.

He passed that on to Garda Headquarters but despite his request for authority to proceed, it was not forthcoming.

Former Chief Supt Murphy today said that in 1996 he contacted the RUC and the informant who had given information about the four killers.

The four loyalists were arrested and taken here to Castlereagh RUC Station for questioning. Two of them, he said, provided independent and accurate details about the murder of Seamus Ludlow.

They described how the shooting took place in their car and how they left the body. However, no charges were ever brought against the men.

The conclusion of the fresh inquest was widely reported on RTE Television and Radio News bulletins, as well as the local LMFM Radio. It was also given good coverage on the national press.

See the following press and TV reports of the second and last day of the Seamus Ludlow inquest and the Ludlow family's reaction to the jury's verdict of 'Unlawful Killing':

RTE News online, 6 September 2005 22:08 ,  Unlawful killing verdict at Ludlow inquest

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

The Irish Daily Star, 7 September 2005: 'UDA' Murder Probe Call

The Dundalk Democrat, 7 September 2005: Seamus Ludlow murder is now officially an unlawful killing

Daily Ireland, 7 September 2005: Call for public inquiry

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

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

The Irish Sun, 7 September 2005: 'Loyalist kill was random'

See also: This exclusive report from The Dundalk Democrat, 21 September 2005, Jury was on the verge of walkout

Related Stories from RTE Television News

(05 Sep 2005)
Second inquest into Louth murder

(24 May 2005)
Date set for new Ludlow inquest
(23 Feb 2004)
Barron meets relatives of man killed by UDA

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5 September 2005: Today was an important milestone for the Ludlow family with the opening, after a three year delay, of a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow. 

The inquest was attended throughout by a large Ludlow family group, including the late Seamus Ludlow's only surviving brother Kevin, and his three widowed sisters; Kathleen Donegan, Eileen Fox, and Nan Sharkey. Many nephews and nieces also attended.

Detailed evidence was given by Professor John Harbison, retired Irish State Pathologist, who carried out the post mortem and gave evidence to the flawed "inquest" of 19 August 1976.

Further evidence was given by retired Garda Chief Superintendent John Courtney, who was involved in the initial murder investigation in May 1976. Mr Courtney testified, under questioning by the Ludlow family's legal representative, that he received a file from the RUC in February 1979, that the file identified four loyalists as the suspected murderers of Seamus Ludlow. He testified that he had eliminated any suspicions of IRA involvement within a few months, even though the Ludlow family was still being assured many years later by Dundalk gardai that the IRA was responsible. 

As for the RUC file, Mr Courtney stated that he had passed it to his superiors in Dublin Castle, and upon his further inquiries as to whether he had the authority to have the known suspects questioned, he was informed that no further action would be taken. He could offer no explanation for this!

See also:


See also the following press and TV reports of the first day of the fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow:

Ulster Television online report: Inquest into death of Seamus Ludlow

RTE News online report: Second inquest into Louth murder 05 September 2005 17:19

The Belfast Telegraph, 6 September 2005: Garda 'quashed' probe into UDA link to murder

The Irish Daily Star, 6 September 2005: 'Gardai did not follow up on murder details'

The Irish Independent, 6 September 2005: Garda chiefs 'sat on murder report'

The Irish Times, 6 September 2005: Forestry worker murdered by UDA, inquest told

Daily Ireland, 6 September 2005: Suspects known by Garda HQ

Daily Ireland, 6 September 2005: Murder of quiet man

Daily Ireland - Editorial: State's Dirty Secrets

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5 September 2005: The following comment was posted on the local Dundalk El Paso Times web site:

Monday, September 05, 2005


An inquest is due to open shortly into the death of Seamus Ludlow – the North Louth man shot dead by loyalists almost 30 years ago. The 47 year old’s body was found dumped in a laneway near his home at Thistle Cross in May 1976. His family believe the murder was covered up by the gardai and the State. Today’s inquest is being held, at the request of the Attorney General as the Ludlows weren’t given enough notice of the original hearing. Surely there should be an investigation into the Garda cover up of the murder. The Gardai in the Dundalk area for the last 20-30 years would make the Gardai in Donegal look like boy scouts.


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1 September 2005: Local LMFM Radio report:

Main Local News Headlines 1st Sept 2005

Family demand explanation for reports delay

The family of a North Louth man murdered by Loyalists almost 30 years ago are demanding an explanation for the delay in publishing a report into his killing. A new inquest into the shooting dead of Seamus Ludlow in May 1976 is being held on Monday next. The Government have had a copy of the Barron Report into his killing since last October, but there’s still no sign of publishing

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6 July 2005: In a follow-up The El Paso Times site briefly names three of the Dundalk gardai who have been accused of harrassing members of the grieving Ludlow family in the aftermath of the vile sectarian murder of Seamus Ludlow. Follow the link given above.

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6 July 2005: The local Dundalk Democrat newspaper features a front page report titled Website names the Ludlow four about the publication of four loyalist suspects' names on the El Paso Times web site. The Democrat quotes an unnamed member of the Ludlow family who reacts to the naming of the four suspects:

Seamus Ludlow's nephew said the four names published on the website were not a surprise to him or any of his family.

"These names have been cropping up for years. The names are nothing new to us."

Preliminary hearings into a second inquest on Seamus Ludlow's death have been held and the inquest is expected to get under way on September 5.

County Coroner Ronan Maguire has said that the publication of the names on the website will have no effect on the inquest

Use the link above to read the full Dundalk Democrat report.

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