not to interview murder suspects ‘political’
decision not to interview four key suspects in the murder of a Dundalk
forestry worker 30 years ago was probably political, a judge said
Seamus Ludlow, aged 47, was abducted by
loyalist paramilitaries in County Louth and shot dead on May 2, 1976,
but gardaí never interviewed the suspects identified by the Royal
Ulster Constabulary (RUC) 18 months later.
At the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Judge Henry Barron was
asked if this decision had been taken because of the volatile
situation at the time. “I think the reality is that it was probably
political,” he replied.
Committee member Senator Jim Walsh suggested that, while he did not
agree with it, one possibility was that the Government did not want
the loyalist suspects interviewed because it might inflame republican
In his report into Mr Ludlow’s death, Judge Barron said it was most
probable the decision not to carry out the interviews with the
Northern Ireland-based suspects was made by former Garda Commissioner
Laurence Wren, then head of the Garda C3 security section.
The two garda detectives who received the information from the RUC in
1979 never received authorisation from C3 to travel across the border
to follow it up, despite the fact that two of the suspects were in
prison and readily available for interview.
Judge Barron told the committee he stood over his report’s
conclusion, despite strong denials from Mr Wren that he had any
involvement in the decision. “It must have been made by the most
senior member and that was Mr Wren,” he said.
The four suspects named in Judge Barron’s report - Paul Hosking,
James Fitzsimmons, Richard Long and Samuel Carroll - were arrested in
Northern Ireland in 1998, but the DPP there decided not to prosecute
them because of insufficient evidence. Judge Barron said he would like
to have seen the RUC files on the Ludlow murder while compiling his
report, but this was not possible because he got no co-operation from
the British authorities.
Independent TD Finian McGrath asked if there were any other avenues
for the committee to investigate.
“It’s an awful long time ago, that’s the problem,” said Judge
Barron. “Everything seems to suggest that four men were in public
bars in the state (on the night of Ludlow’s murder). At the time, if
photographs were shown to people, they might have identified them.”
The family of Seamus Ludlow, who have travelled from Dundalk to attend
each committee hearing, are calling for a full public inquiry into his
Judge Barron’s fourth and final report, into bombings in Dundalk in
the 1970s, is within a week of completion, but its publication may be
delayed to see if the names of those allegedly responsible can be