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




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The Sunday World, 16 October 2005 (Northern edition only):

30 years on - secrets behind an evil killing

Gardai blamed IRA gang

Words: John Keane

Pictures: Conor McCaughley

An independent report is set to lift the veil of secrecy on one of  Ulster's most notorious unsolved murders.

Judge Barron will reveal that the gardai failed to act on intelligence passed to them by the RUC naming the four loyalists they believed carried out the roadside killing of Seamus Ludlow.

Mr Ludlow was abducted and shot as he walked home on the outskirts of Dundalk on May 1, 1976.

The Sunday World revealed at the time that the 47-year-old forestry worker was killed by a loyalist gang drawn from the Red Hand Commando and UVF, but gardai insisted the murder was carried out by the IRA.

Now 30 years later Judge Barron will confirm that it was loyalists who killed him, and he will reveal that the gardai "sat on" information given to them by the RUC.

The Sunday World today unmasks the men behind one of Ulster's unsolved murders and the 30-year mystery surrounding the killing of Dundalk man Seamus Ludlow can now be solved.

The Sunday World  revealed in 1976 Ludlow had been killed by a loyalist murder gang and not the IRA, as gardai claimed.

Next month the Irish government will confirm our account was accurate when it finally publishes findings of Judge Henry Barron's  inquiry into the killing.

Mr Ludlow, who lived with his elderly mother at Thistlecross on the main Dundalk to Newry road, had been drinking at the Lisdoo Arms pub in Dundalk.

As he walked home he tried to thumb a lift. Tragically the car that picked him up was carrying a loyalist killer gang. It had been sent to kill another man, prominent republican, George Mussen but had failed to find him.

The killers, who had been drinking all day, needed to satisfy their blood lust and Mr Ludlow was in the wrong place at the wrong (time).


Judge Barron's findings, which will be published next month, will reveal that within a year of the killing the RUC had intelligence that the four man murder gang was drawn from the Red Hand commando and the UVF.

Two of the Men were members of the Ulster Defence Regiment.

They met early on the Saturday afternoon at the First and Last public house in Comber and drove across the border at Omeath.

Between Newry and Omeath trheir yellow two-door Datsun car was stopped by a British Army patrol but allowed to proceed when one of the occupants showed a British Army warrant card.

The gang visited several pubs in Dundalk known to be frequented by the intended target, George Mussen, now deceased.

Unable to find their man the gang was heading home when it encountered the unfortunate Seamus Ludlow hitching a lift.

Mr Ludlow was put into the back seat of the car and he directed them to his home at a crossroads on the main Newry road.

The car turned right at his home but carried on down the side road for a further 500 yards.

After stopping the killers ried to pull their victim from the car but succeeded only in pulling off his jacket.

One of them then fired three bullets into him in the back of the car and they dumped his body on top of a ditch.

In 1998 the family of the dead man succeeded in having the gardai re-open the investigation.

As a result the RUC arrested four loyalists and held them for four days at Castlereagh interrogation centre.

All four were subsequently released and although a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions no charges followed in the beluief that "tainted accomplice evidence" was not enough to secure convictions.

Two of the men, Paul Hoskings and James Fitzsimons admitted being members of the gang which abducted Mr Ludlow but denied actual involvement in the killing.

Hoskings told Special Branch officer George Morris that when the car stopped he got out to relieve himself.

He heard shots and turned around to see the loyalist known as "Mambo" half out of the car firing in the direction of the back seat.

Fitzsimons was the owner of the yellow Datsun used by the gang on the night of the murder and was a member of the UDR.

The two other men questioned were Richard William Long of Comber and Samuel Black Carroll, formerly of Dundonald who was flown over from his home in Rugely, Staffordshire by detectives.

Long denied any involvement in the killing while Carroll refused to answer questions.

Richardon Long, an officer in the UDR, was given a life sentence in 1977 for possessing the gun used to kill David Spratt in a mistaken identity shooting in Comber.

He was given 10 years for conspiracy to kill Spratt's catholic brother-in-law John Vance who was the intended target.

The court heard that Long arranged a rendesvous in the First and Last pub in Comber between the killer and the getaway driver and supplied them with the murder weapon, a .38 Smith and Wesson.

Samuel Black Carroll known in loyalist circles as "Mambo" was charged with carrying out the murder but was acquitted.

Shortly afterwards an RUC intelligence file was created naming three loyalists as suspects ibn the killing of Seamus Ludlow.


Carroll has consistently denied allegations that he was an agent of either the RUC Special Branch or the Military Reaction Force, which ran "counter gangs"  of loyalist killers targeting republican suspects.

In an interview with a Birmingham paper last year Carroll  denied any involvement in the Ludlow murder but admitted having former links with the RedHand Commando.

"The name Samuel Black Caroll was never mentioned in the interviews, it was always "Mambo"," he said.

"There's only one person who carried that name in the whole of Ireland and that's me.

"The murder is associated with that name rather than me."

A  former suspect in the murder of Sinn Fein vice president Maire Drumm, he volunteered the information that "One of my closest friends was Lennie Murphy who ran the Shankhill Butchers.

"People have identified me as one of the Shankhill Butchers but I wasn't  although I  was closely associated with the leadership."

Carroll was imprisoned in 1972 along with Red Hand Commando chief John McKeague and he was has served a number of prison sentences for robbery and blackmail since he went to live in England in 1991.

Four years ago he was convicted of assaulting a man who addressed him as "Semtex Sam."

Last month the second inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow came to the conclusion that he had been "unlawfully killed."

The verdict was delayed because of difficulties the coroner had encountered obtaining the garda file.

Eventually the coroner was allowed access to the file but on condition that he did not disclose its findings.

Irish Government sources have indicated the delay in publishing Justice Barron's  findings were because of concerns for the safety of the four suspects.

Seamus Ludlow's nephew, Michael Donegan, told the Sunday World: "A garda superintendent gave evidence at my uncle's inquest that he was handed the names of three suspects by the RUC in 1979.

"He passed it on to a colleague in Garda Special Branch but was later told that it had been "sat upon" by those at the top."

The Ludlow investigation, which began with a team of 30 detectives, was ended after just 19 days while the Dublin and monaghan bombing investigation was wound up after just six weeks.

The failure of the Garda to pursue the insigators of the mass murder of Irish citizens is a considerable embarrassment to the force and has fuelled conspiracy theories about British Intelligence subversion.

If the Irish Government fails to reveal al of the Barron findings it will only further fan the flames.


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Revised: October 21, 2005