Sunday Business Post: 17 June 2001:
Murdered man's family says justice minister was `hostile.
By Maol Muire Tynan
Dublin , Ireland, 17 June, 2001
Members of the family of Seamus Ludlow, the Louth man murdered in the Republic
by a loyalist gang, have criticized the Minister for Justice, John O'Donoghue,
for adopting a "hostile" and antagonistic attitude to the family's
calls for a public inquiry.
Jimmy Sharkey, a nephew of the dead man, said his family would not meet the
minister again "because he is wasting our time and doesn't want to hear
what we have to say". A spokesman for the minister denies the claim.
Ludlow, from Thistle Cross, Dundalk, was murdered on May 2, 1976, after leaving
a public house in the town. He was picked up by a
Northern-registered car and his body was later discovered in a ditch. He had
been shot three times at close range.
After years of private investigation, the family says it has uncovered new
evidence which leads it to the conclusion that members of the Northern security
forces were directly involved in the killing. The family believes that at least
some members of the gang were in the Ulster Defence Regiment, which was then a
local regiment of the British Army.
A number of men were questioned by the RUC about the murder, but in October 1999
the Director of Public Prosecutions in the North decided that charges would not
be pressed and nobody has since been brought to justice.
The family wants a public inquiry into the killing, particularly in relation to
the Garda aspect of the investigation between 1976 and 1979.
Sharkey told The Sunday Business Post that a meeting with O'Donoghue last month
ended unsatisfactorily and that the minister was "very hostile to us".
"We have met the minister twice: in December 1999 and again on May 23
last," Sharkey said. "At the first meeting, he left the table and went
to stare out the window. One of his senior officials had to conclude the
meeting. In May, the family took the lead and asked the questions, but he became
rather hostile and threw his arms up in the air, closed the file and left the
room without saying goodbye."
The Minister for Social Community and Family Affairs, Dermot Ahern, and the
other Fianna Fail TD for Louth, Seamus Kirk, remained in the meeting for some
time afterwards with the family and their solicitors.
A Department of Justice spokesman said the minister believed the matter should
be investigated by a judge and referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee. He
said that this course of action "would not prejudice the possibility of a
public inquiry if that were then considered necessary".
Responding to the claim that the minister was unsympathetic, the spokesman said
that anyone who knows John O'Donoghue would realise this is not "the way he
Sharkey insists that the present approach will yield no results: "John
O'Donoghue told us he would think about giving us access to the Garda files. We
sat for two years waiting to see what he would come up with. This is a waste of
The murder was considered by the former minister, John Wilson, and the Victims'
Commission which recommended that because a file on the case was with the DPP in
the North, no proposal should be made which would endanger the prosecution of
any guilty party. Now that the DPP has decided not to press charges, Ludlow's
relations claim there is no impediment to a public inquiry.
"We are not buying into taking part in the Barron inquiry into the
Dublin/Monaghan bombings. This is a completely different case," Sharkey
Ludlow, a forestry worker, lived with his mother and sister outside Dundalk. At
the time of his killing, a loyalist gang was operating along the border and is
suspected of carrying out other attacks, including murder, in the Republic.
A bachelor, Ludlow was a man of habit and routinely drank in local public
houses. On the night of his death, he was in the Lisdoo Arms and was last seen
getting into a sports car that drew alongside him as he stood at the road side
north of Dundalk at about midnight.
It is believed that four men were already in the car. They drove towards Thistle
Cross and turned down a back entrance to the Ballymascanlon House Hotel. Ludlow
is understood to have been shot as he sat in the back of the car.
His body was dragged into the ditch by his killers, who fled to the North. The
occupants would have been covered in blood and would have been likely to run
into army checkpoints, but no arrests were made at the time. The IRA was
initially blamed for the killing.
The family is also concerned about the Garda inquiry into the murder. Ludlow's
brother Kevin was told of the inquest only on the morning it was due to take
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