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The Dundalk Democrat, 22 February 2006:
Anne Marie Eaton, a reporter with the Dundalk Democrat, spends a day with the Ludlow family as they travel to Dublin for another sitting of the Oireachtas hearings into the murder of Seamus Ludlow.
From Clarke Station to Kildare Street
Kevin Ludlow, Nan Sharkey and Eileen Fox have sat throughout the committee hearings, sometimes hearing information they have heard repeatedly and at others hearing revelations for the very first time.
Nan and Eileen, along with Briege (Doyle) arrive at the station shortly after 7.30am on Thursday morning not knowing what the day ahead will bring.
Briege has a week off work and that's why she is going along to the hearings with her mother and her aunt.
"Jimmy would like to go to all the hearings but because of work it's just not possible and you wouldn't expect it.
"My older brother Nicholas has been going to as many hearings as he can but luckily for him he is starting a new job today. I have a week off so I'm going to the hearings this week.
While the three ladies set off for Dublin on the 7.57am train, Seamus' brother Kevin is already on the road to Dublin from his Belturbet home.
A 100 mile round trip, including bus and car journeys it takes a bit longer to get to Leinster House, a fact he has explained to the Oireachtas Committee, and the reason why the hearings are now starting half an hour later, Nan explains.
"Kevin was talking to the Committee Chairman and asked could he delay the hearings by half an hour. He wants to hear them fully but some days he has had problems getting here in time. He said that to Mr Ardagh."
Kevin, she says, is unphased by the enormity of the situation. "Well as he said to us 'this is our show'. We want to hear everything that's said and we have waited long enough, so a half an hour later start shouldn't be that much of a problem.
After the train arrives into Dublin, it's time to hail a taxi as the three women are unsure of the Dart system. Once in the taxi and when they mention Leinster House, the taxi driver asks them what's their reason for going to Kildare Street.
Eileen and Nan don't go into details but say they are having a meeting with important people.
The ladies know exactly where they are going.
There's a different official on the desk who hasn't met them before and is unsure where they are going, but they know, as does another official who meets them every morning of the hearing.
"Your'e coming here for weeks. You know where your passes are" he said and they are allowed to head through to the front steps of Leinster House.
Rather than walking through the front doors they head off to the left and are greeted inside another door by another official who recognises them immediately who with a warm welcome hands them their passes.
There's time for a quick cup of coffee by which time Kevin arrives and then it's down to the committee rooms.
The committee is in private debate for a short time which means they must wait outside, during which time they meet with solicitor James McGuill as well as speaking to a number of the committee members as they make their way in.
Eileen and Nan point to a blank TV screen. "That's where we will be in a minute. That screen shows the hearing going on iside."
The family file into the left of the doorway and take their seats with James McGuill sitting in front.
The press sit to the other side of the dorway.
This morning it is Justice Barron's opportunity to address the Committee.
Perhaps after having completed his report the family are not expecting to hear anything new. They are in for a shock.
Justice Barron tells the Committee that the name of the person suspected of killing Seamus was forwarded to the Gardai in the weeks before Seamus' murder. He was described as a loyalist subversive who would be able to come across the border.
With that explanation Kevin, Nan, Eileen and Briege look up, their eyes wide. In front of them James McGuill is looking straight at Justice Barron. He then turns around to Kevin and asks has he heard this before to which Kevin replies "No. Never."
A look over to the Press who have started scribbling again after a lull and it's easy to see that they are interested in this piece of information.
After the hearing, and standing outside the committee rooms, they can't get over what they have heard.
Eileen says it is further confirmation that people were hiding information over the years.
"There we are. Now they are saying they knew how dangerous he was weeks before Seamus was murdered. Even before he was killed they were hiding things."
Kevin and his sisters part company at Leinster House having made plans for the next hearings on Tuesday when their solicitor will make a final submission on their behalf. It looks like it's gouing to be another early start.
The ladies are lucky enough to make an early evening train back to Dundalk.
"On the first day we went we had to leave (for) Dublin at 7am and didn't get back until 7.30 that night.
"It was a long day and we didn't even get a seat on the way home. We had to stand the entire journey."
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The Dundalk Democrat, 22 February 2006:
Making sure their voice is heard
The Ludlow family have gone from being a quiet unassuming rural family to a force to be reckoned with in their campaign to get justice for their late brother and uncle Seamus.
In the past three weeks they have walked through Leinster House with confidence as they attend the Oireachtas Committee hearings on the murder of Seamus Ludlow.
They speak with TDs and Ministers with ease. It is hard to imagine that anything would phase them.
However, it is easy to see how far removed from their ordinary life they have been forced to come.
While they are adamant that they will represent their brother Seamus every day at the hearings they admit that sometimes the enormity that Seamus is at the core of an Oireachtas hearing does hit home.
"One of the days we were sitting on leather chairs just down the staircase from the Dail itself and I couldn't get over that we were there. We had a bit of a laugh about it."
In the weeks since the hearings have started, Nan, Eileen amnd Kevin have fitted in well with the hustle and bustle. They have become well known faces and are greeted warmly.
"The people that work here are lovely," Nan said. "They are always asking us how things are going. They are just so nice."
They include their praise for some of the Committee members. As they have their coffee before the hearings they stop to talk to Finian McGrath at the coffee shop counter. "He's a lovely man. You would see him here every morning before the hearings."
After the first morning of the hearing when the family forked out over 70 euro on tea and toast at Buswells Hotel, they have learned a lesson.
"Once you have a pass you can go over to the Dail restaurant. It's much cheaper. You can have a main course for just over five euro and the food is lovely."
They have even built up sa rapport with the restaurant staff, stopping on the way to talk to an oficial about how the hearings are going.
"Everyone has been really kind to us. It can be daunting but on our first day here we ended up talking to one of the TDs who knew relations of my husband and he came to lunch with us, which was very nice."
As they return home after another day in Leinster House they won't make it back to Connolly Station in time for the next train and with half an hour to spare are at a loss at what to do
I sugest they go to Guiney's. It's only a few minutes from the starion after all. They are uncertain, but go along. They have a good look around the shop and buy some bargains. On the way back to the station they call into another shop, and another and make it back with just enough time to catch the train.
I ask the question "Were you never in Guiney's before," to which Nan replies "We have never been shopping in Dublin at all."
I'm surprised, but then I think. Two women with large families looking after elderly parents and all through those years trying to find out who had murdered a loved one. Who would have time for shopping excursions?
Yet 30 years on and they are taking on a far more daunting challenge than an afternoon's shopping in Dublin.
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