Tribune, 21 February 1999:
inquiry faces resistance
for Ludlow inquiry face official resistance from Justice department, writes Ed
Department of Justice is believed to be leading official resistance to calls for
an independent public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the killing of
Dundalk man Seamus Ludlow, who was shot dead near his home in May 1976,
according to informed sources.
campaign by his family has brought to the surface allegations of a cover-up
involving both the British and Irish security authorities lasting more than two
week the human rights group British Irish Rights Watch boosted the campaign with
the publication in Dublin of a report into the killing
backing the family's demands for a public inquiry. The BIRW report listed 14
questions for the British and Irish authorities to answer, 10 of which deal with
the way the gardai and other authorities in the Republic handled the case.
Ludlow's family held a press conference in Dublin last Thursday, supported by
five border TDs, and reported suspicions that the cover-up may have been
motivated by the need to protect an agent, possibly the man who fired the gun. A
copy of the BIRW report was given to the Taoiseach's office.
public meeting in Dundalk Town Hall held later attracted a crowd of several
hundred and was attended by representatives of all the major local political
parties. a petition supporting the call for an inquiry was also gathered.
Members of the Garda Special Branch in Dundalk were outside the hall, apparently
monitoring those at the meeting.
key allegation which is now becoming a central focus of the campaign revolves
around the possibility that the authorities may have been protecting an agent
among the killers of Seamus Ludlow. He was shot dead not long after he hitched a
lift from Dundalk to his home late on a Saturday night.
spokesman Jimmy Sharkey, a nephew of the dead man, said last week: "We are
asking what was the reason for the cover-up. I think it is that one of the four
people in the car that night was an agent or informer for British Military
Intelligence, the RUC Special Branch or even Garda Special Branch. Everything
points to the trigger man and if that is true it means he was allowed to
continue on with his murderous ways."
family's demand for a public inquiry puts the Government in a difficult
position. If the authorities reject the demand it may weaken their ability to
take a morally vigorous line with the British government over exclusively
Northern security scandals such as the Bloody Sunday inquiry and the Pat
Finucane killing, both of which could have implications for the peace process.
however, an inquiry is allowed, there is no knowing what other security scandals
may emerge especially since the relevant events cover a period in the mid-1970s
when allegations of dirty tricks abounded.
evidence suggesting that the Seamus Ludlow case was the subject of a cover-up is
beginning to accumilate and despite media indifference it may become more
difficult to ignore:
1 May 1976 Seamus Ludlow a 47-year-old forestry worker disappeared after
spending the evening drinking in the Lisdoo Arms pub in Dundalk. He was last
seen hitching a lift on the Newry Road at around midnight. His body was
found the next day in a lane a half mile from his home. Three bullets were
recovered from his body.
garda murder investigation was launched and headed by the late
Superintendent Dan Murphy and a team of 30 detectives. After three weeks,
however, the gardai suspended the investigation without explanation. More
recently, members of the Ludlow family were informed by sympathetic garda
sources that the order to halt the inquiry had come from garda headquarters
the investigation garda detectives in the Special Branch persistently
suggested to the family that the IRA was responsible for the murder despite
an official IRA denial of involvement and private messages to the family
saying the same thing.
gardai began what the Ludlow family allege is a campaign of smear and
innuendo designed to divide the family and thus weaken their ability to
campaign for the truth. It is alleged that gardai told members of separate
branches of the family that members of the other branch were responsible for
Seamus Ludlow's death by telling the IRA that he was an informer. The effect
was to divide the family for almost quarter of a century.
day after Seamus Ludlow's funeral, the British Army called at the south
Armagh home of his brother-in-law, Kevin Donegan, allegedly seeking
information about the gardai investigation on behalf of the RUC. The RUC at
nearby Forkhill deny this but Donegan was airlifted to Bessbrook Army base
where he was questioned for about an hour by a British military officer
about the garda inquiry.
Ludlow's inquest was held on 19 August 1976 but no family members were
present. The family allege that the gardai deliberately ensured that no
family member or lawyer was present. Kevin Ludlow was told about the inquest
45 minutes before it was due to start but couldn't make it. The dead man's
sister was not contacted. This, however, was later claimed to have been an
oversight. There are no copies of ballistics or forensic reports in the
1996 a freelance journalist, Joe Tierney, contacted the family with
information from garda Special Branch sources that loyalists, not the IRA,
killed Seamus Ludlow and that gardai had known this all along.
superintendent Ted Murphy from the garda drugs squad was appointed to reopen
the investigation and met the family in November 1997. The family learnt
from sympathetic garda sources that the authorities "knew everything
(about the murder), even the conversation in the car that night". The
family learnt that the names of the killers are in a closed gardai file. It
emerges that the RUC also identified the killers to the gardai.
17 February 1998 three men from Northern Ireland and a man living in
Staffordshire were arrested and questioned by RUC detectives about the
Ludlow murder. All four were released without charge.
8 March 1998, The Sunday Tribune published an interview with one of
the men, Paul Hosking (41) who alleges a cover-up of the killing by the RUC
Special Branch. He admits he was in the car which picked up Seamus Ludlow
and that he witnessed the killing. He also says that he was interrogated by
an RUC Special Branch officer about the killing in 1987 and told him the
full story. Hosking says he was told to forget all about the matter as it
was "political". Hosking says he was caught up by chance with a
murder team from the Loyalist Red Hand Commando from North Down who
travelled across the Border in search of IRA road blocks but ended up
killing Seams Ludlow. Of the other three men in the car, two were soldiers
in the Ulster Defence Regiment; the third was the trigger man. Hosking says
he was later warned by this man to stay silent about the killing.
North's Director of Public Prosecutions receives the file on the Ludlow
killing on 23 October 1998. A decision on whether to prosecute is still