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 Sunday Tribune,  21 February 1999:

Ludlow inquiry faces resistance

Calls for Ludlow inquiry face official resistance from Justice department, writes Ed Moloney

The 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.

A 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 decades.

Last 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.

Seamus 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.

A 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.

A 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.

Family 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."

The 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.

If, 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.

The 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:

On 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.

A 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 in Dublin.

During 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.

Some 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.

The 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.

Seamus 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 records.

In 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.

Chief 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.

On 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.

On 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.

The 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 awaited.

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