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The Irish News, 1 February 2006:
Hearing told of 'fear all around the border'
By Senan Hogan, PA
Fear stalked the border area and bodies were regularly dumped along roadsides in the mid 1970s, an Oireachtas all-party body heard yesterday.
The Justice sub-committee is into its second week of hearings on the Barron report into the 1976 murder of Dundalk forestry worker Seamus Ludlow.
Mr Ludlow (47) who had no links to paramilitary groups, was shot dead as he returned home from a night out.
The Barron report said the RUC told gardai in 1979 that it believed four named loyalists were involved in his killing but this information was not pursued by the Garda at the time.
Former Co Louth TD Brendan McGahan yesterday admitted that he was wrong to blame the IRA for the murder during a radio interview with RTE broadcaster Pat Kenny in 1993.
"I was wrong but only hindsight has proven me wrong," he told sub-committee members.
The ex-Fine Gael TD said he was given the information at the time by a garda, but he could not remember his name.
Mr McGahan also said he knew the Ludlow family well and Seamus had carried out gardening work for him.
He recalled that the time of the murder was a dreadful period in the border area.
"There was fear all around on both sides of the border. There was economic depression in Dundalk because of the level of crime in the 1970s," he said.
"There were many instances of bodies found lying at the roadsides. So that when Seamus was killed and his body found lying on the roadside a couple of hundred yards from his home, it was in my opinion, reasonable to assume that the IRA had done it because the IRA was the only firm operating in that business of slaughter, murder in the Border area at that time. There was no other rational view," Mr McGahan said.
"At that time, there was no evidence at all of any forays across the border by UVF personnel," he added.
Earlier, former detective superintendent John Courtney said he was disappointed that four loyalists identified by the RUC to gardai were not questioned by detectives.
He repeated his claims in the Barron report, that Detective Sergeant Dan Boyle told him in 1979 that former Garda commissioner Larry Wren had advised senior officers that no further action should be taken in the case.
"I was really interested to have those suspects followed up," Mr Courtney said.
"It was part of my job at the time to have them interviewed because I was satisfied that they were good suspects for the murder. I was satisfied about that."
Mr Wren later told the Sub-Committee that he did not accept the conclusion in the report that it was "most probable" that the decision not to interview the four suspects was made by him.
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See also these press reports of the second day of the Oireachtas Justice sub-committee hearings:
RTE News online, 31 January 2006 12:53 Former Commissioner giving Ludlow evidence
RTE News online, 31 January 2006 16:17 Former Commissioner gives Ludlow evidence
The Newry Democrat, 31 January 2006: Ludlow family insist on full public inquiry
ireland online, 31 January 2006 17:25:56: Hearings on Ludlow murder told of border fear
The Irish Times, 1 February 2006: Wren says decision on Ludlow suspects not his
The Irish Examiner, 1 February 2006: ‘Bodies dumped on Border roadsides’
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