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

3 July 2002 - The Irish Attorney General has directed the Coroner for County Louth to hold a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow.  . . . . Please return for updates and important developments.





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The Sunday Business Post, 8 May 2005:

Coroner to re-examine 1976 murder

08 May 2005  By Barry O'Kelly

The 29-year-old murder case of Seamus Ludlow is to be re-examined by a coroner in Dundalk, amid claims of an official cover-up on his death by loyalist paramilitaries.

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.

Ludlow , 47, a forestry worker from Thistlecross, Mountpleasant, Dundalk, Co Louth, was abducted and murdered by loyalists and British soldiers outside the town of Dundalk on the night of May 1,1976. He was seen thumbing a lift home from the pub at around midnight before he disappeared.

“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.

The Ludlow family was given just 45 minutes' notice before the original inquest in August 21, 1976.

“Kevin [the victim's brother] got a phone call, and he was working across the border and there was no way he could make it in time,” said Sharkey.

The current coroner, Ronan Maguire, who was not involved in the original hearing, said: “The family was not represented. The only evidence that was given was the medical report and the identification of the body.”

The evidence normally provided at inquests should include statements from eyewitnesses, family and friends and the Garda.

Maguire said that the family and the Garda would be represented at the preliminary hearing. “It will then be decided what evidence should be given at the full hearing,” he said.

Four loyalists were arrested by the RUC in February 1998.

They were all released without charge, pending a report being sent to the North's Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

In October 1999, the DPP ruled that none of the suspects would be charged with any offence, even though two of them had reportedly signed incriminating statements while in RUC custody.

“The chief investigator in the Ombudsman's office told us in the company of our solicitor that he was amazed that two of the people involved were not charged. There was very strong evidence against them,” said Sharkey.

One of the alleged killers, known as Mambo, was an informant for the British Army.

“The cover-up was inspired to protect this man and the two who were in the UDR,” said Sharkey.

“We want to know who gave the orders for the cover-up of the evidence and the smearing of the victim. Who was being protected, and why? And why was the Ludlow family excluded from the inquest?”

The most revealing statement on the affair to date is a letter to a campaign supporter, Jim Kane, in July 2000.

RUC superintendent RD McCausland wrote: “I am advised that information relative to the murder of Mr Ludlow was passed by the Royal Ulster Constabulary to An Garda Siochána in 1979.

“I am further advised after a request from the Garda in 1998, the RUC arrested and interviewed four persons in relation to the murder.

“All four persons were released pending a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions. On October 15, 1999, the DPP directed ‘No Prosecution'.

“I can inform you it is not force policy to comment on matters pertaining to ‘Agents'.

“Police reports to the DPP are confidential documents, as are forensic/ballistic reports.”

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See also:

The Irish News, 26 April 2005: Inquest into 1976 murder set to begin

The Belfast Telegraph, 27 April 2005: Second inquest into 1976 Dundalk killing

The Argus (Dundalk), 6 May 2005: Seamus Ludlow Inquest

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