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




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Latest Reports.

3 July 2005 - 10 March 2005

3 July 2005: In a fresh and surprising development, a Dundalk web site, The El Paso Times, not connected to the Ludlow family, published a report naming the four suspects who were arrested in 1998 for questioning about the murder of Seamus Ludlow. 

Though two of the suspects have identified themselves previously in the press, the Ludlow family has not sought to name them all publicly. Two of the suspects had never been named, though their names were also known to the Ludlow family since 1998. 

The El Paso Times' report follows:

EXCLUSIVE MURDERERS NAMED The El Paso Times has been given the full names of the murderers of Dundalk man Seamus Ludlow. Two of the murderers were serving British soldiers at the time of the murder. It is believed that the original target of the gang was a well known republican who was living in Bay Estate at the time. For some unknown reason the gang never reached their original target. They picked up Seamus Ludlow who was thumbing a lift at the time on the Newry rd near the Lisdoo. Because the Gardai and Irish governments didnt want to cause a political storm with their masters the British the Gardai put out locally that the local IRA were behind the murder. The Dundalk Gardai even went as far as arresting members of the Ludlow family and questioning members of the family about the murder. Within weeks of the murder the RUC passed on details of the real murderers to the Gardai and the Irish government but they chose to ignore the information and closed the investigation. The family have tirelessly campaigned for a full public enquiry because of the disgraceful way the entire investigation was handled. This case is not unlike the Mc Brearty case in Donegal, involving local Garda corruption and cover-ups

The El Paso Times report is published here, without the final sentence giving the suspects' names. These, of course, can be viewed on The El Paso Times' site by following the link given here >>>>.

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17 June 2005: Important new contact information received from our friends at The Pat Finucane Centre, Derry:

New web address and e-mail


As of today our new website address is and our new e-mail address will be  The old emails will function until the end of June but it is advisable to begin replacing now

The Ludlow family appreciates the valued support it has received from the Pat Finucane Centre. The Centre's website features detailed information about the murder of Seamus Ludlow as well as many other victims of British state killings in Ireland.

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13 June 2005: The Louth Coroner Ronan Maguire received written submissions from legal representatives for the Garda Commissioner and the Ludlow family regarding the scope of the matters which the inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow will be able to inquire into. 

The coroner also confirmed that 5 September 2005 will be the date on which he will begin the fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow. This will be more than three full years since the inquest had been ordered by the attorney general.

While the Garda who had dealt with the forensic investigations at the time of Seamus Ludlow's murder in 1976 was now dead, the coroner had received a report from the Garda ballistic team. Mr. Maguire undertook to supply a copy of that report to Mr. James MacGuill, solicitor, who acts for the Ludlow family.

See The Argus (Dundalk), 17 June 2005: Ludlow inquest adjourned to autumn >>>> 

See also: The Dundalk Democrat, 15 June 2005: Coroner receives ballistics report on Ludlow after 29-year wait >>>>

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31 May 2005: Jane Winter, Director of London-based BRITISH IRISH Rights Watch (BIRW), in her monthly report, made the following comment regarding the recent preliminary hearing for an inquest intro the death of Seamus Ludlow.

inquest into the death of seamus ludlow

A preliminary hearing into the second inquest into the murder in 1976 of Seamus Ludlow in Dundalk, allegedly by loyalists some of whom were serving soldiers, was held on 24th May.  The full inquest is due to be held on 5th September 2005.  BIRW is hoping to send an independent observer to the hearing.

There can be no doubt that the Ludlow family would be very honoured to have Jane or any other representative of BIRW present at the inquest in September. The Ludlow family has been grateful for Jane's valuable support and advice for several years now.

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24 May 2005: At last the Ludlow family's near thirty-year-long wait for truth nears an end with a date being  set for the full inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow. 

Louth Coroner Ronan Maguire set 5 September 2005 at a preliminary hearing in Dundalk courthouse. it is expected to last for a number of days.

The Coroner read a letter from the Attorney General confirming the Ludlow family's grave objections to the original sham inquest of August 1976. They had been denied participation in that inquest and important evidence had not been available or presented at the inquest. Nor had the gardai called for an adjournment so that they could continue with their investigation. Of course the Ludlow family was not aware at that time that the murder investigation had been effectively abandoned after only 19 days!

In one surprising development, the lawyer for the Garda Commissioner, informed the inquest that the Assistant Commissioner is willing to be a liaison officer for the Ludlow family. It is regrettable that the gardai have been obstructive in their dealings with the Ludlow family throughout this long struggle for justice. Liaison was never on offer!

See The Argus ( Dundalk ), 27 May 2005: Date set for second inquest into Seamus Ludlow murder

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23 May 2005: The following kind message was received from Jane Winter, Director of British Irish Righs Watch (BIRW), London. Jane, unfortunately, will not be able to attend the preliminary hearing for Seamus Ludlow's inquest, which opens in Dundalk, 24 May:

I’m so sorry I can’t be there tomorrow, owing to a prior commitment to attend the opening of the Robert Hamill Inquiry.

However, James has promised to keep me informed.

I hope that it goes well.  I know it will be a difficult day for you all, but I hope it marks the beginning of obtaining justice for Seamus.

  With best regards,


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23 May 2005: The following was issued by the Pat Finucane Centre, Derry City:

A preliminary hearing in advance of a full inquest into the murder of Seamus Ludlow opens in the Dundalk Courthouse on Tuesday.  Seamus Ludlow was abducted and killed by loyalists in May of 1976.  One of his attackers is believed to have been a MI5 or RUC Special Branch agent. No one has ever been charged with his murder. The family alleges “massive wrongdoing” by both Irish and British authorities. 

An inquiry into the murder of Robert Hamill will begin Tuesday at the Craigavon Courthouse.  For eight years the family has struggled to get justice for Robert, who was attacked by a mob and beaten to death in front of the RUC. in April of 1997.  No one has been convicted of the killing.  Murder charges against six men were withdrawn through lack of evidence and charges against a police officer for obstructing justice were controversially withdrawn.

  Further information is available on the Pat Finucane Centre website at

See also for recent news articles.

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22 May 2005: See today's issue of The Sunday Tribune for Northern Editor Suzanne Breen's report headlined:

"There are top politicians with blood on their hands"  Seamus Ludlow's family wants the same treatment from the Irish government as the McCartney sisters

Suzanne's report features comments from the Ludlow family as well as confirmation that the preliminary hearing for Seamus Ludlow's inquest is now set for Tuesday 24 May, at Dundalk Courthouse.

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10 May 2005: At last, the announcement that the Ludlow family has been waiting for now almost three years! The local LMFM Radio station revealed the date for a preliminary hearing for a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow. LMFM reports:

The first concrete steps have been taken towards holding a new inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow - the North Louth man murdered by loyalists 29 years ago. It's claimed that the 47-year-old forestry worker was shot dead by members of the Red Hand Commandoes. The preliminary hearing will take place in Dundalk on Monday week 23rd May.

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8 May 2005: See The Sunday Mercury article Do secret papers link this man to terrorist murder? 

This Birmingham-based Sunday newspaper reports that leaked security documents name the man, who resides in the English midlands, alleged to have killed Seamus Ludlow. In an interview the man denies the claim made against him.

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08 May 2005:  See the report Coroner to re-examine 1976 murder by Barry O'Kelly in The Sunday Business Post: 

The Co Louth coroner, Ronan Maguire, confirmed this weekend that he would hold a fresh inquest into the controversial killing following a campaign by Ludlow 's family.

“I have been requested to do so by the Attorney General. There will be a preliminary hearing at the end of the month, in advance of a full inquest,” the coroner told The Sunday Business Post.

The victim's family believes that Ludlow died at the hands of two members of the British Army's Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and the loyalist Red Hand Commandos in Co Down. The family's campaign, led by Kevin Ludlow, the only surviving brother of Seamus, and nephews Jimmy Sharkey and Michael Donegan, are seeking a public inquiry into his death and the alleged cover-up afterwards.

“At first, the Garda claimed to the family that Seamus had been murdered by the IRA because he was an informer,” said Jimmy Sharkey last week.

“That was the line they put out. It is now known that both the Garda and the RUC were aware that the killers were, in fact, loyalists.

“They knew that the killers included at least twolocally recruited members of the British Army.”

The Police Ombudsman in the North, Nuala O'Loan, has told the family that police had intelligence on the four-man gang within a year of the murder, according to Sharkey.

“The killers all came from the Comber and Newtownards areas of north Down.

“Information which would have identified these killers was suppressed for more than 20 years, allowing these men to remain free - and at liberty to kill again.

“The question is: why were these men being protected?

“Why were they above the law?” said Sharkey. . . .

Take this link to read the full report from The Sunday Business Post article. >>>

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6 May 2005: See report in today's local Dundalk Argus newspaper, which states that the Louth County Coroner has confirmed that a preliminary hearing will be held in May into the death of Seamus Ludlow. It is  revealed that the initial hearing is set to take place on a date yet to be confirmed over the next few weeks and that a full inquest will take place at a later date. The coroner also said that the hearing will focus mainly on legal argument in order to explore the scope of the inquest, and will involve members of the Ludlow family and garda representatives.

Significantly, there is still no date for this preliminary hearing which is set to begin before the end of May and there are worrying concerns that the full inquest may still be many months away.

To read the full report from The Argus go to the following page. >>>

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2 May 2005: The 29th anniversay of Seamus Ludlow's abduction and murder has passed. His loyalist killers have yet to answer for their foul crime and the authorities in Belfast and Dublin have yet to acknowledge the injustice that was done to this innocent victim of British forces collusion with loyalist death squads. 

Despite recent press speculation, see below, no dates have yet been announced for the publication of the long-awaited private Barron Report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow or for the holding of the fresh inquest that has been delayed since July 2002.

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27 April 2005: See The Belfast Telegraph, Second inquest into 1976 Dundalk killing for yet another report that the fresh inquest first announced in July 2002 is set to begin. 

The Belfast Telegraph quotes Ludlow family solicitor:

Ludlow family solicitor James MacGuill said there were a number of issues to be addressed.

"There are circumstances which led to him being abducted and there were also issues surrounding the political use of his death by the Garda in their failure to inform the family.

"There was also the issue surrounding the manner in which suspects were not fully investigated. It was better for people
to think that the IRA had shot someone," he said.

To read the full Belfast Telegraph report, go to >>>>

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26 April 2005: See The Irish News, Inquest into 1976 murder set to begin for yet another report that the long delayed fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow may soon begin. This inquest has been delayed now for almost three years. There have been many such reports in recent months, yet still no inquest. The Irish News reports:

Louth County coroner Ronan Maguire said yesterday that he plans to hold a preliminary hearing next month.

It is expected that the hearing, during which he will receive submissions from interested parties, will take place in around three weeks’ time.

Seamus Ludlow, a 47-year-old forestry worker, was abducted and killed by loyalist paramilitaries as he made his way home from a Dundalk pub in May 1976.

There is evidence that the gang responsible was linked to the Red Hand Commando and also included two UDR men.

The coroner said the scope and date for the beginning of the actual inquest would depend on the progress made at the May hearing.

He added that he had received all the material he had requested from gardai.

It remains to be seen if this report actually leads to an inquest in three weeks time. To read the full Irish News report, go to >>>>

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20 April 2005: See The Irish News, Family 'treated like dirt' over delay of report into murder 

Regarding the long-delayed publication of the private Barron Report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow, The Irish News quotes a member of the Ludlow family, who, in a hard-hitting statement of Ludlow family disappointment at the continued delay, has:

accused authorities of "treating us like dirt" for the past three decades.

The claim came as it emerged that it will be several weeks before the publication of a report by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Henry Barron into the killing by a loyalist gang.

Senior government officials last night insisted that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was keen to publish the Barron report in full. However, the government is seeking advice on the risks posed by publicly naming a umber of individuals featured in the report.

While the names of Mr Ludlow's abductors and killers were made public by the media some time ago, the government must make its decision to name or shield individuals on a 'right to life' basis.

Official sources said there was still "no word" on a publication date, saying the taoiseach remained "anxious" to publish the report in full.

They said it was hoped that the report would be made public within weeks. The government received the report from Justice Barron last October.

Mr Ludlow's brother Kevin last night said it was a "disgrace" that six months after the taoiseach received the Barron report it had still not been published.

"This is typical of the cover-up that's been going on since Seamus was murdered 28 years ago," he said.

Mr Ludlow also claimed that his family would "receive very different treatment" if his 47-year-old brother had been murdered by the IRA.

"If Seamus had been killed by the IRA we would be getting the same publicity as (Belfast murder victim) Robert McCartney's family. But as soon as it became known that loyalists were behind Seamus' death, the authorities here did everything they could to sweep it under the carpet," he said.

He said he believed that the Irish government did not want to "embarrass" their British counterparts over evidence that his brother's killers were linked to the security forces.

Take this link to the full Irish News report >>>>

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10 March 2005: Reported in today's issue of The Irish News:

The Barron report on the 1976 loyalist murder of Catholic forestry worker Seamus Ludlow is to be published “within weeks”, the Irish News has learned.

The Irish government has been considering the contents of the report since it was submitted by Mr Justice Henry Barron last year.

A government source last night said officials remained concerned about the possible repercussions of publishing certain names contained in the document.

It is understood the names include those of the chief murder suspects, investigating gardai and witnesses . . .

To read the full report, go to >>>>.

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Revised: June 03, 2006