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The Irish Times, 15 February 2006:
Ludlow case shows need for inquest notice
Dublin city coroner, Dr Brian Farrell yesterday called for legislation to ensure that sufficient notice was given of an inquest to the family of the deceased.
Dr Farrell said mandatory provision was essential so that timely notice was given. If the family did not turn up and there was no explanation, new laws should provide that a coroner adjourn the inquest.
The coroner was addressing the Oireachtas sub-committee into the Barron report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow.
Mr Ludlow (47), a 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 subversive organisation. No one has ever been charged.
The report said the RUC told the Garda in 1979 it believed four named loyalists were involved in the murder but the information was not pursued by gardai.
Mr Ludlow's family was not informed of the orignal inquest in Dundalk in 1976. A garda went to the house of Mr Ludlow's brother on the morning of the hearing but he was away in Newry and could not be informed in time.
Asked about this, Dr Farrell said he was reluctant to comment on one of his predecessors. "However, in our practice, that simply would not pass muster. The actual notification process was also not satisfactory and it looks as though the family was not contacted until the day of the inquest. Clearly adequate notice is required," he said.
There was nothing in the legislation governing notice, so they had developed best practice and relied on common law.
"Clearly we've moved on since 1976 but there's still no guidance. Gardai are asked to inform the family about an inquest," he said. "I would welcome making it mandatory for timely notice to be given to the family and if the family didn't turn up and there was no explanation, new legislation should say a coroner should then consider adjourning.
He said he could not speak for the 45 coroners around the State, as procedures differed.
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