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

The Sunday Tribune, 3 October 1999:

Ludlow inquiry limited

by Ed Moloney,  


Successful pressure from the Department of Justice is believed to have been behind last week's announcement by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern that the inquiries into the Loyalist bombings of Dublin-Monaghan and Dundalk in the 1970's and the murder of Dundalk man, Seamus Ludlow would be private and in the case of the Ludlow killing would not result in a published report.

Government sources say that the Ludlow investigation will also be limited in another important respect. While the inquiries into the Dublin-Monaghan and Dundalk bombings could, the sources say, open the way for a full public inquiry later on this will not be the case as far as the Ludlow murder is concerned. The private inquiry is all that is on offer to the Ludlow relatives who have conducted a 23 year long campaign to establish the truth behind the killing.

Lawyers for the Ludlow family have written this weekend to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice saying that a private inquiry would not be in the public interest and protesting at the decision, made to safeguard criminal proceedings, not to publish any report. The letter also hints that the family may boycott the inquiry saying that on the available information a private investigation would not have "any constructive purpose".

Critics of the decision say that the proposed private inquiries seriously weaken the ability of the government to criticise the British over any possible mishandling of their public inquiry into Bloody Sunday or to make demands that a public judicial inquiry be held into the killing of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane.

Earlier this year junior Foreign Affairs minister Liz O'Donnell wrote to Northern Secretary Mo Mowlam urging her to set up a public probe into the Finucane murder but the Taoiseach's announcement could let the British off the hook. "Mo has got the perfect answer for us now", complained one government source.

The decision also represents something of a victory for the Department of Justice over the Department of Foreign Affairs where for reasons associated with the need to shore up grassroots republican confidence in the peace process a strong lobby existed backing the demand for a public inquiry into the Finucane murder.

Seamus Ludlow was killed in May 1976 in circumstances that remained a mystery for over 20 years. His bullet ridden body was found not far from his home but the identity of the killers was a puzzle and source of considerable controversy in the Dundalk area.

However a series of revelations in the last two years have fuelled suspicions that the authorities on both sides of the Border knew fairly soon afterwards who the culprits were but covered this up to protect a Loyalist agent who was in the employ of the British intelligence apparatus.

The source for this suspicion was the testimony of a Northern man who was with the killers when they abducted and shot Seamus Ludlow. Paul Hosking, from Newtownards, Co Down told the Sunday Tribune last year that he was innocently caught up in the killing when he went drinking with Loyalist gunmen who insisted on straying across the Border to scout Dundalk.

He was a passenger in the gunmen's car, two of whom were members of the Ulster Defence Regiment, when they picked up Seamus Ludlow as he made his way home after a night's drinking in the town. He witnessed the shooting but says he was threatened by the gunman, a notorious member of the Red Hand Commando, to keep his mouth shut.

Eleven years later a member of the RUC Special Branch interviewed him about that night's events. Hosking says he told the policeman all about the killing but at the end of the interview was astounded when instead of being told he would be charged with murder, the Special Branch man told him to forget all about the case as it was "political".

Confirmation that the Gardai knew the names of the culprits early on, at least by 1979, came before this when an investigation headed by Chief Superintendent Ted Murphy of the Drugs Squad concluded that the names had been passed on to Phoenix Park by the RUC but the information was not acted on. The Murphy inquiry followed pressure from the Ludlow family for a fresh investigation.

After that four men, including Hosking, were arrested and held for questioning. A file was sent to the North's Director of Public Prosecutions earlier this year but a decision on whether to prosecute is still awaited.

Relatives of Seamus Ludlow believe that the Gardai knew who the culprits were three years earlier, not long after the body of the unmarried forestry worker was found dumped in a laneway, and not in 1979 as is now claimed.

Their suspicions are based on the behaviour of Garda detectives and local members of the Special Branch at the time including the police decision to suddenly wind up the inquiry without explanation only three weeks after the killing.

The family say that the Gardai were especially eager to blame the IRA for the murder despite strong and persuasive denials from the group. It also emerged during a Sunday Tribune investigation that not long after the death, local Gardai divided the Ludlow family by telling separate sections that the other had been responsible for the murder by telling the IRA that Seamus Ludlow was an informer. The effect of this tactic was to blunt the family's determination to get to the truth for nearly twenty years.

The Ludlow family say that the behaviour of the Gardai in 1976 was designed to draw attention away from the real culprits and to frustrate efforts to get at the truth. this, they say, is consistent with the Gardai knowing who the real culprits were at the time.

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