Sunday Business Post, 8 May 2005:
to re-examine 1976 murder
08 May 2005
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
The Co Louth coroner, Ronan Maguire, confirmed this weekend
that he would hold a fresh inquest into the controversial killing following a
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
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
, 47, a forestry worker from Thistlecross, Mountpleasant, Dundalk, Co Louth, was
abducted and murdered by loyalists and British soldiers outside the town of
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
“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.
family was given just 45 minutes' notice before the original inquest in August
“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
“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
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'.
can inform you it is not force policy to comment on matters pertaining to
reports to the DPP are confidential documents, as are forensic/ballistic