would consult PSNI over reopening Ludlow case
The Garda Commissioner said yesterday that he had no difficulty in asking
the PSNI if there was any avenue left to enable the reopening of the Séamus
Ludlow murder case.
Noel Conroy also said he had no problem apologising to the family of Mr
Ludlow for the failure of the Garda Síochána investigation and to notify
them of the original inquest into his death in 1976.
At an Oireachtas justice sub-committee hearing on the Barron report on the
murder, Mr Conroy said: "I regret very much that we did not bring
this to a satisfactory conclusion. Management in the Garda Síochána feel
the very same way."
Mr Ludlow (47), a single man and forestry worker, was shot dead on May
2nd, 1976, at Thistle Cross, Dundalk, Co Louth, as he went home after a
night out. The Barron report said he had no connections with any
No one has ever been charged with the murder. The report states the RUC
told the Garda in 1979 it believed four named loyalists were involved in
Mr Ludlow's killing but the information was not pursued by gardaí.
Mr Conroy said an internal Garda investigation under Det Supt Ted Murphy
led to the four suspects being arrested and interrogated by the RUC in
February 1998 in Northern Ireland. A file was sent to the DPP but it was
concluded there was insufficient evidence to warrant prosecution.
Mr Conroy said it might have been then that the RUC would have exhausted
their powers and unfortunately did not have the evidence concerning
bringing criminal charges.
Fine Gael TD Gerard Murphy asked: "Can the PSNI be asked if there is
any avenue now open to enable the reopening of the case?"
The commissioner replied: "I've no difficulty in doing that."
Concerning the original investigation into the murder, he said: "I
regret it very much. As I see it, it was a failure on the Garda Síochána's
part not to have it fully investigated and brought to conclusion."
Asked about the failure of the Garda to inform the family of the original
inquest in 1976, he said: "It was very regrettable and, to make it
worse, we did not go and seek permission to have it adjourned, and I would
expect that was the least we could have done so that the family could hear
the evidence, and I regret it."
Earlier former commissioner Pat Byrne said the primary responsibility was
the investigative authority and that was the Garda Síochána and in
essence the responsibility must be with the Garda. To suggest otherwise
would be ludicrous.
He said the crime was committed in the Republic and the responsibility was
with the Garda to take the next step, which was to have the suspects
interviewed. That would be the natural progression.
"I'm of the view that the system failed," he said. "I think
we failed as an organisation, and failed to follow through to the next