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




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Ireland's Foreign Minister should have no difficulty in his avowed
intent to persuade the British government that they should act over
the murder of Co. Louth forestry worker, Seamus Ludlow, almost thirty
years ago.
In November 2000 the Northern Ireland Office, Security Policy and
Operations Division, assured the Celtic League that it would be keen
to pursue any information pertaining to the killing.
The new inquest into Mr. Ludlow's controversial murder was held over
two days last week. It ended with the jury of 6 men and four women
unanimously returned a verdict that Seamus Ludlow's death was an Unlawful
Killing. The cause was gunshot wounds, with the medical cause of death
being shock and haemorrhage.
Crucial points that emerged from the inquest were as follows:
1) Retired Dt Supt. John Courtney, who received a file naming four
suspects, from the RUC in February 1979, stated that he was made aware
of the four strong suspects in 1979 but was not given permission from
Garda headquarters to pursue the investigation further. This was the
first public admission that the murder investigation had been blocked
by the Garda authorities in Dublin.
2) The same four suspects were questioned in 1998 and two of the men
gave similar accounts of their involvement. Again, this was a first
public admission.
3) No Garda was recorded as being given responsibility for contacting
the Ludlow family for the first inquest in August 1976.
4) Seamus Ludlow was not murdered by the IRA nor was he a member of
the IRA. The suspicion of IRA involvement had been excluded from the
murder investigation within three months of the murder, though the
Ludlow family were never informed. Indeed, family members were still
being told this lie nearly twenty years later!
5) No trace of the victim's clothing or of two of the fatal bullets
can be found.
The inquest has once again focused media attention on the killing
and Ireland's Foreign Secretary, Dermot Ahern, reacted swiftly saying
that he will raise the issue with the Northern Secretary, Peter Hain.
It has long been suspected that Seamus Ludlow was the victim of a
loyalist hit squad being run as part of a covert operation by British
Security forces in the north of Ireland. During this period there
was a series of murders, attempted murders and abductions both north
and south of the border.
What is particularly perplexing about the Ludlow killing is that it
seems that the Irish police were given firm information about suspects
three years after the killing. The inquest record now confirms that
and this corroborates what the Northern Ireland Office - Security
Policy and Operations Division - told the Celtic League in November
2000 when they said:
"Thank you for your letter of the 30 October to the Prime Minister
concerning the death of Mr Seamus Ludlow in County Louth, May 1976.
I can inform you that information relating to the murder of Mr. Ludlow
was passed to An Garda Síochána in 1979.
I am advised also that there is no evidence to suggest that a cover
up to protect the killers took place or continues to take place. If
there is any further information pertaining to the murder of Mr. Ludlow
we would be keen to pursue it"
It has been a long and sometimes lonely campaign to achieve justice,
pursued for almost three decades by the family and friends of Seamus
Ludlow. At last there may be some end in sight to their nightmare.
J B Moffatt
Secretary General
Celtic League
The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works
to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a
broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights
human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on
socio-economic issues.
TEL (UK)01624 877918 MOBILE (UK)07624 491609
Internet site at

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Bank of Ireland
78 Clanbrassil Street
County Louth

Account No. 70037984 

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Revised: September 12, 2005