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.    This photograph of Seamus Ludlow was taken later in his life.This is a youthful photograph of Seamus Ludlow, taken several years before his murder.This memorial stone marks the place where the dead body of Seamus Ludlow was discovered on Sunday 2nd. May, 1976. This new stone recently replaced another stone.




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SUNDAY MIRROR, July 1, 2001.



Twenty-five years after my uncle was brutally murdered, a file with the names of his killers on it gathers dust on a shelf in Dublin Castle. How can this be allowed to happen? 


The family of a loyalist murder victim wants garda officers to tell all about the investigation.

No-one has been brought to justice for the murder of Seamus Ludlow who was killed 25 years ago.

Now his nephew, Michael Donegan, claims there was a cover-up and that police protected the killers.

Michael said: "There must be someone out there with a conscience, perhaps a retired garda officer who has nothing to lose now in letting us know what went on..

"Someone should come forward, someone who has this cover-up nagging at their mind - a Guard, an RUC officer, a politician - and help us clear up this 25-year-old mystery."

Mr. Ludlow, a 47-year-old bachelor and forestry worker, was abducted on his way home from a Dundalk bar on May 1, 1976. 

After spending the evening in various Dundalk pubs, Seamus left the Lisdoo Arms around 11.30pm.

He was last seen standing outside the nearby Smith's Garage, thumbing a lift home, three miles away at Thistle Cross.

He was taken to a lane near his home, in County Louth, and shot three times.

His body was dumped on the side of a ditch where it was found by a tourist from the North who was walking a dog along the quiet country road just south of the border.

The RUC arrested and questioned four men about the killing in February, 1998.

The men, all loyalists, three of whom had alleged connections to a Red Hand Commando murder gang, were released without charge.

A file was sent to the DPP in the north but a decision not to prosecute was made.

One man, Paul Hoskings, has since gone public and told the story of his presence "as a witness" at the murder.

He told his story to a newspaper in 1998 and claims to have told the police on two occasions - in 1987 and 1998 - but no further action was taken.

The family believes that two of the killers were members of the Ulster Defence Regiment - and that one held the rank of captain.

Michael is convinced that at least one of his uncle's murderers was an informer for the British or Irish intelligence agencies and claims that is why no one has ever been brought to justice for the shooting.

"We know there was a file naming the probable killers given to the Gardai by the RUC in 1978 - but we were never told of the existence of such a file until 1998.

"This file was stored in Dublin Castle and someone - a senior Garda or a politician, we don't know - decided to let it gather dust.

"The investigation was abandoned and we didn't even know that.

"Against all the evidence Gardai stuck to the line that it was an IRA murder and some spread lies that Seamus was an informer and that was why he was shot.

"They maintained these lies until 1998." said Michael.

The Ludlow family was approached by a journalist in 1997, who had heard some theories about the killing.

He allegedly told the family that Gardai knew all along that loyalists committed the murder - and told them names he claimed the Gardai had on file.

A furious Ludlow family wrote to the then Garda Commissioner and demanded a fresh investigation.

"We wanted to know why senior Garda officers had seen this file with a list of suspects and yet nothing was done," said Michael.

"A Supt. Ted Murphy was appointed to look into the whole thing. Two years ago he produced a report but we have been refused access to it and, as far as we can see, it too is gathering dust and hasn't been acted upon.

"What are they hiding? We, as the bereaved family, should have right to see both those files.

"It seems to us that some people, who are supposed to be upholding the law, are instead protecting killers. Why?

"What was so important about these people that made Seamus Ludlow's life worthless. Was my uncle's life nothing in the big scheme of things?

"They can't keep covering up and we will keep on asking these questions and demanding answers.

"Why was the information provided by Paul Hoskings, who claimed he witnessed the murder, not acted on?

"Someone has made a decision to hide the truth for political or security reasons and to me that is disgusting."

The Ludlow family has again called on the Taoiseach to grant them a full public inquiry into the controversial killing.

Mr. Donegan branded Bertie Ahern "a hypocrite" for supporting public inquiries in the north, while refusing to allow one in Dublin.

He said, "The Irish government, the RUC and Gardai want us to go away but we won't

"There has been a cover-up for 25 years and we will continue to demand the truth.

"The Irish Government wants us to accept being included in the private inquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings but we refuse.

"Seamus Ludlow was denigrated in private, we want him exonerated in public.

"We want a full public inquiry where everything is out in the open and everyone can be questioned in the open. No more cover-ups."

It is a mystery why Seamus Ludlow, a quiet, inoffensive man, who lived with his sister and her family, was targeted by the loyalist killers.

He may simply have been a random Catholic victim of a blood-thirsty squad on a killing spree, although it seems unlikely that such a mob would stray south of the border.

"We just don't know," said Mr. Donegan. "He may have been just an easy target, or, more likely, something else more sinister was going on that night and Seamus inadvertently got in the way.

"It has been reported that there were British officers in the bar that night and that a northern registered car, with three men inside, was parked outside.

"Maybe, there was some sort of intelligence meeting and someone thought he saw or heard something he shouldn't have. It's just a theory, only God knows for sure why he was killed.

"What we know is that there was never a vigorous hunt for his killers.

"Seamus Ludlow was failed by the State and by those paid to uphold law and order in that state.

"Maybe, some of them feel guilty about that now. It's not too late to speak out."

The Department of Justice said yesterday that it too wanted to discover the full truth behind the Ludlow murder but insisted an inquiry along the lines of the Dublin/Monaghan probe was the best approach at this stage.

A Department spokesman said: "The Government decided in September 1999 to establish an inquiry into bombings in Dublin/Monaghan and Dundalk as well as the Ludlow case.

"The minister has met with Mr. Ludlow's relatives and their representatives in December, 1999, and twice in May, 2001, and proposed that the same process as applied in the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk inquiries should apply in relation to Mr. Ludlow, i.e.. an investigation by a judge and referral to the Joint Oireachtas Committee.

"This course of action would not prejudice the possibility of a public inquiry if that were then considered necessary."

The spokesman said that "efforts will continue to be made to resolve the impasse" between the Government and the Ludlow family.



Samuel Black Carroll was one of the men arrested in 1998 in connection with the Ludlow killing.

Known as "Mambo", Carroll, then 45, was arrested by nine RUC officers and English detectives in a raid on a house at Redbrook Lane, Brereton, Staffordshire.

Detectives sealed off the house, took away documents and dug up the garden as he was flown to Belfast and quizzed about a series of alleged offences.

Carroll, who described himself as a "loyalist sympathiser" was originally from Carrowdore, Co. Down.

When arrested he accused the police of being "mob handed" and said he had "never been a threat" to Britain.

The former jockey and horse enthusiast moved to Staffordshire in the late 1980s to look after the children of his late sister.

Carroll, who looked after horses at stables near his home, was detained at Castlereagh holding centre for three days before being released.

Last year Carroll was jailed for attacking a man he claimed had called him "Semtex Sam".

He inflicted "wicked" head injuries on Ivan Shirley when he attacked him with a weapon, thought to be the butt-end of a snooker cue.


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