The Murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth, May 1976. Towards a public inquiry?
Introduction to the murder of Seamus Ludlow and the official cover-up.
The recent Campaign for Truth and Justice.
Other Ludlow Family Sites.
Sunday Business Post, 19 January 2003:
Dublin-Monaghan: will the truth finally out?
By Donal O Maolfabhail
Dublin, Ireland, 19 January, 2003
May 17 will be the 29th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings which killed 33 people in 1974. By then Judge Henry Barron's report into the tragedy will finally have been published.
The report will shift the question of illegal activity by British military intelligence in this state during the Troubles from the realm of speculation to that of fact.
Sources close to the Barron Inquiry are confident that the final report will pack a significant punch against the British government. The inquiry has obtained strong new evidence that would indicate, at the very least, a willingness of certain sections of the British military to engage in grave undercover actions, north and south of the border.
A senior member of the British army serving at the time has stated to the inquiry that it was his belief that loyalists could not have carried out the attack themselves.
This would tally with the view held by some that the bombing was an operation hatched by Britain's military intelligence and aimed at putting pressure on the establishment in the Republic to adopt more repressive measures against republicans.
The Barron Inquiry has no powers to request information or compliance with the inquiry, and is entirely dependent on the voluntary co-operation of others.
Despite the Taoiseach's recent affirmation to the Dáil that the Northern Ireland Secretary, Paul Murphy, had assured him material would be forthcoming from British sources, the level of cooperation from the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been minimal.
It was recently reported that a former bomb intelligence officer, Major Maynard, who was stationed in Lurgan at the time, was, on the advice of the MoD, not cooperating with the Barron Inquiry. This is equivalent to a former senior garda refusing to co-operate with the Omagh investigation.
Last year the British ambassador to Dublin, in response to a report in the Irish Times, wrote a letter to the paper denying that the MoD had at any stage advised former British military personnel not to cooperate with the Barron Inquiry. No denials have as yet been forthcoming from the British Embassy with regard to Maynard.
However, the inquiry is expected not to shy away from drawing adverse inferences, if a lack of co-operation from the MoD is perceived as being part of a cover-up.
Despite the lack of MoD evidence, the inquiry has still managed to make some very interesting findings.
A security memo, prepared for the British government in October 1971 and now in the hands of the Barron Inquiry, states that the IRA was operating at a very high level of intensity and that the border was practically open.
The document states that in order for Britain to gain full control of the border, an estimated additional 18 to 29 battalions would be required. According to the memo, this would mean withdrawing troops from other parts of the world, which would be an embarrassing admission within Nato.
The memo therefore outlines three options as to how the army should proceed. These options give some insight into British government thinking at the time.
The first option of maintaining the status quo was dismissed on the basis that it would not appease extreme unionists, bringing nearer the "unpalatable" prospect of direct rule.
Option two recommends abandoning political progress and adopting a tough policy, introducing an identity card system and curfews, closing borders and imposing a form of martial law. This was ruled out on the basis that it might lead only to a pyrrhic victory over the IRA.
The third option recommends removing the restraints on operations of the General Officer in Command in Northern Ireland. This, the memo states, would include an intensification of border operations. (Any cross-border operations would have come under the heading of border operations.)
The memo states that the third option should be implemented.
The first car bomb attributed to loyalists and detonated south of the border exploded on May 13, 1972, six months after the memo was written. In the same year the chief of staff of the Irish army, Major General Thomas O'Carroll, sent a memo to the then minister for defence, Garry Cronin, stating that dealing with the possibility of "incursions into the Republic by organised Security Forces or partisan elements from N Ireland ... would require an increase in military strength and more border patrols".
The Barron Inquiry has in its possession documentary material which corroborates assertions that members of the security forces in the North did, on a repeated basis, engage in improper conduct -- for example, supplying certain loyalist terrorists with explosives and non-standard firearms for deniability purposes.
As part of its investigation, the Barron Inquiry has commissioned a number of scientific studies into the bombings. One of these reports, conducted by a British Army bomb disposal expert, has concluded that the material for the 74 bombs may have come from the IRA.
According to recent newspaper reports, the three car bombs in Dublin used crystallised ammonium nitrate. This home bomb-making technology was known to the IRA but was not at the time used by loyalists.
According to statements made in the Dáil, 812 unauthorised incursions by security forces from Northern Ireland into the Republic were recorded between March 1970 and May 1985.
Judge Barron's inquiries into illegal criminal activity by British military intelligence in this state has led him to examine a number of other murders and bombings that occurred in this state, outside his terms of reference.
However, the inquiry's terms of reference do not allow Judge Barron to make any recommendations on his findings. On completion, the report will be presented to government, which will pass it on to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights.
The committee will then decide whether a full public inquiry into the matter should be established.
If the evidence contained in the Barron report is as strong as indicated, any Irish government would be morally and duty bound to set up a full public inquiry to protect the sovereignty and people of this state.
Other cases being examined by the Barron inquiry
Judge Barron's investigation into British Military Intelligence involvement in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings has led him to examine at least five other bombing incidents and two assassinations which also occurred in this state during the Troubles.
* On June 20, 1975 an attempt was made to blow up a train carrying 281 Official Sinn Féin supporters. The bomb exploded on the tracks after the train had passed by.
Less fortunate that day was Christopher Phelan, a 48-year-old farm labourer who stumbled on the bombers while out walking near the railway track outside Sallins in Co Kildare. Later that same day the Gardai found Phelan's body in a field. He had been stabbed to death.
Since then it has been believed that loyalist terrorists, most likely the North Armagh UVF, were responsible. To this day no one has been charged.
The Barron Inquiry has heard evidence which claims the British Army had operational presence in the locality at the time of the murder. The file on the Phelan murder is still open.
* Another case being investigated by Barron is that of Dundalk man Seamus Ludlow, who was shot on May 1, 1976. Ludlow's murder, believed to have been a case of mistaken identity, was at the time attributed to loyalist terrorists.
* Judge Barron is examining the murder of John Francis Greene, an IRA commander in North Armagh. Greene was killed on a farm in Co Monaghan on January 10, 1975. At the time the IRA was on ceasefire.
Ruairi O Bradaigh, then leader of Sinn Féin, said that this assassination had a huge bearing on the breakdown of that ceasefire six days later. It was not until two months later that the UVF claimed responsibility for the killing.
* Other matters being investigated by the inquiry are the bombs that went off in Dublin on December 1, 1972 and January 20, 1973, the bomb blast in Belturbet in Co Cavan in 1972, which killed two children, and another that exploded in Castleblayney in 1975.
See also related article
The Dundalk Democrat, 21 December 2002: Nearly 30 years on from Dundalk bombing and the fight for justice continues
The Dundalk Democrat, 04 January 2003: A photograph of Joe Tiernan's book launch in Dundalk. (See above Dundalk Democrat 21 December 2002)
The Sunday Times, January 12, 2003: Army 'link' to Dublin bombings
RM Distribution, 13 January 2003: Dublin/Monaghan bombs came from British Army - report
© 2003 the Ludlow family. All rights reserved.