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The Belfast Telegraph, 6 September 2005:

Garda 'quashed' probe into UDA link to murder

By Michael McHugh

in Dundalk

Anti-terrorism chiefs from the Garda quashed an investigation into a Co Louth murder which has been linked to the UDA, an inquest has heard.

A retired detective inspector who ran the investigation of Seamus Ludlow's May 1976 murder, John Courtney, told the victim's second inquest in Dundalk yesterday that police linked with the counter-subversive unit of the Garda had told him "nothing" was being done about crucial evidence linking the UDA to the killing.

Mr Ludlow, a forestry worker from Dundalk, died after three bullets were fired into him from close range after being picked up in a car close to the border with Northern Ireland.

The jury at an inquest in Dundalk before Louth County Coroner Ronan Maguire heard Mr Courtney recount how he passed on information received from the RUC which linked the killing to a number of alleged UDA figures - only to find out that nothing was being done about it.

"18 months afterwards (February 1979) I got certain information about the persons involved in the shooting. I was in Belfast one day in connection with another investigation," he said.

"They (RUC detectives) gave me details about what had happened and they gave me the names of the persons involved. From the facts they gave me I was happy enough that these persons were involved and that they would be suspects for the murder.

"I sent the information up to headquarters. I made inquiries and I was told there was nothing being done about it - that was that."

He added that the matter would have been dealt with by police chiefs who handled countersubversive activity.

"The Chief Superintendent in Drogheda would have sent it up to the C3 (subversive section of Special Branch at Garda headquarters)."

Senior counsel for the defence, Deirdre Murphy, asked: "You were satisfied within 18 months that it was people from the UDA who had killed Mr Ludlow?"

He replied: "Yes. My view would be that I had to interview those people. The Garda would never be happy until they interviewed those people but from the descriptions given to me it would appear that they were the people involved. They would be very strong suspects in my mind."

Ms Murphy told the court that for 20 years the IRA had been linked to the murder in the public mind and accused Garda of creating a false impression.

The case is expected to continue today.

At hearing.


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Revised: September 20, 2005