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The Irish News, 17 February 2006:
Failure to interview Ludlow suspects may be 'political'
By Michael Brennan, PA
The decision not to interview four key suspects in the murder of a Dundalk forestry worker 30 years ago was probably political, a judge said yesterday.
Seamus Ludlow (47) was abducted by loyalist paramilitaries in Co Louth and shot dead on May 2 1976 but Gardai 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 aked 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 said.
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 sympathies.
In his report into Seamus 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 vcommissioner Laurence Wren, then head of Garda C3 security section.
The two Garda detectives who received the information ftrom the RUC in 1979 never received authorisation from C3 to travel across the border again 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.
Labour TD Joe Costello said that in his opinion, the failure to interview suspects meant there had never been a proper murder investigation by the gardai.
The four suspects named in Judge Barron's report - Paul Hosking, James Fitzsimmons, Richard Long and Samel 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 have liked to have seen the RUC files on the Ludlow murder while compiling his report. But this was not possible because he didn't receive co-operation from the British authorities.
Independent TD Finian McGrath asked him if there were any other avenues for the committee to investigate.
"It's an awful long time ago, that's the problem. At the time, if photographs were shown to people, they might have identified them," Judge Barron said.
The family of Seamus Ludlow are calling for a full public inquiry into his murder.
They are set to give a public statement through their solicitor James McGuill at the final committee hearing next week.
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