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.
The Sunday Tribune, 8 August 1999:
The case that is not going to go away
After calls for an inquiry into the Ludlow case, it is clear that questions still have to be answered, writes Ian Gilroy
While much attention has been given to the call by the Victims' Commission into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974, its proposal for a similar probe into the circumstances surrounding the killing of Seamus Ludlow in Co Louth almost exactly two years later is also to be welcomed.
Over the last year or so The Sunday Tribune's Northern Editor Ed Moloney has revealed much of the background to the suspicious murder of Ludlow in May 1976, including the alleged involvement of members of the North's security forces. Following a re-opening of the case by the RUC, a file has now been submitted to the North's Director of Public Prosecutions. However, this week the chairman of the the Victims' Commission, former Tanaiste John Wilson, said that he favoured an inquiry into the killing in the republic as "a criminal trial will not necessarily bring out the full facts of the case".
Seamus Ludlow, a 47-year-old forestry worker, was shot dead in an isolated laneway near his home at Thistlecross, Co Louth, four miles north of Dundalk in May 1976. Ludlow's murder remains one of the many unsolved murder of the Troubles and there have been allegations that he was killed by men of both the UDA and the Red Hand Commandos, an offshoot of the UVF.
Paul Hosking (42), from Comber, Co Down, and a witness to the murder, claims that the RUC has known the identity of the killers for over a decade, and that they have sat on the evidence. No one has yet been charged for the killing.
Hosking was a 19-year-old factory worker in 1976. On the day that Seamus Ludlow was murdered he started the day drinking in the company of three UDR soldiers who were known to him. One of the men was a captain in the UDR., another, as Hosking was told, was an officer in the regiment. It was not clear to Hosking whether the third of the group, a man from Bangor, M, was a member of the UDR or not. The Sunday Tribune has been given the men's names, but for legal reasons ids not publishing them at this time.
Shortly after falling into the men's company, Hosking realised that they were armed. A day of drinking ensued that took the group in the second UDR man's yellow Datsun car to a pub in Killyleagh, on the shores of Strangford Lough. Following a suggestion from the UDR captain, the group then drove down to the border, to spy on IRA border checks that the UDR captain had information were in operation. Hosking, considering the whole thing an adventure, went along with the group. A trip across the border was decided upon, and using a UDR pass the men were waved through a British Army permanent checkpoint and crossed over the border to Omeath in Co Louth where the group went into a pub.
By closing time the men were quite drunk, and after leaving, instead of heading north, the driver of the vehicle swung the car southwards, in the direction of Dundalk.
After a while they came across a thumbing a lift on the road. It was Seamus Ludlow. He was looking for a lift home after leaving the Lisdoo Arms, his last stop in a night's drinking that had brought him to a number of pubs.
The UDR driver stopped the car and Ludlow climbed in the back.
As the group drew near to Ludlow's home the driver reversed the car up a muddy lane. Hosking took the opportunity of the secluded spot to jump out and urinate. Then, while he was away rom the car, Hosking suddenly heard a loud banging. As Hosking has told The Sunday Tribune, he then turned to see one of the men, M, half in and out of the car firing shots into the vehicle. Two of the men then pulled Ludlow's body from the car and threw him on to the hedge where he was found the next morning by tourists from the North. As the inquest found, he'd been shot three times at close range. Because of threats from the Red Hand Commandos, Hosking kept quiet about what he had seen that night. That was the last he heard about the case until, 11 years later, the RUC Special Branch approached him. Hosking met met the RUC in a Newtownards pub.
According to Hosking, the Special Branch man seemed to already know the whole story. Nevertheless, Hosking retold the events of that night in 1976, and at the end of the meeting enquired as to what was to happen next. The Special Branch man told him to "forget it, it's political!".
Nothing more came of the case until 1998 when Hosking and the three former Red Hand Commando members were arrested. Hosking was held for four days, and all four were released without charge. A report on each was sent to the North's Director of Public Prosecutions who will decide whether or not to take action. With the recommendation this week from the Victims' Commission that an inquiry into Ludlow's murder be carried out, it is clear that the Ludlow case is not going to go away. There are questions to be answered by the RUC as to why they sat on Hosking's evidence for so many years; an allegation that has fuelled speculation that one of the UDA men involved in the murder may have been an RUC informer who was being protected. If this informer is true, then the RUC may have known the truth about this murder since 1976, rather than 1987, when Hosking first told them of his evidence.
According to members of Ludlow's family, the gardai may also have questions to answer in relation to this case. While the gardai have always claimed that the Provisional IRA were responsible for the murder, members of Ludlow's family say that a senior garda detective admitted privately to them that the security forces in the south were aware of the real identity of the killers 23 years ago. for a murder that took place in their own jurisdiction it would be expected that the gardai would be interested in the truth.
Seamus Ludlow was a random victim of the Troubles. an independent public inquiry would help to bring out the full facts of this case and give peace of mind to his friends and relatives who deserve to know the truth.
I Homepage I I Top I I Press coverage I I Irish Victims Commission Report. I I The Irish News, 7 August 1999: Ludlows call for public inquiry I I The Dundalk Democrat, 7 August 1999: Ludlow murder inquiry report "A place and a name" I