Irish Times, 30 March 2006:
questions than answers in Ludlow killing
details of Séamus Ludlow's death in 1976 have been told, and retold,
but answers remain elusive, writes Mark Hennessy, Political
Séamus Ludlow was a quiet forestry worker, known by few outside his
Dundalk home before he left his local pub in the early hours of May 1st,
He never made it home. Instead, he was picked up by four men near the
bridge on the Dundalk/Newry Road near his Thistle Cross home, shot three
times at close range and dumped in a ditch.
The Garda investigation produced nothing. Believing that Mr Ludlow was
an IRA informer who had died as "touts" die, garda detectives
quickly and quietly shredded his reputation.
Everyone was blamed for the killing - the IRA, loyalist paramilitaries,
the SAS, neighbours, even his family. One theory was that he was a
victim of mistaken identity. The family was ignored for years until the
mid-1990s and not even informed of his inquest. However, evidence later
emerged that a group of loyalist paramilitaries from mid-Ulster, an area
known as the "Murder Triangle" during the Troubles, had killed
A Garda inquiry followed which revealed that they had been told in 1979
by the RUC about four suspects, though it emerged that detectives were
not allowed to travel North to interview them. Oddly, the RUC had the
intelligence about the four for 18 months before they passed it on to
the Garda - though no reason for the failure to do so has been advanced
despite several inquiries.
The RUC was approached again, and the men were arrested in 1998. During
questioning, two of the four admitted being present when Mr Ludlow was
murdered, but denied involvement. The RUC sent a file to the Northern
Ireland director of public prosecutions, but he decided that no
prosecution could be brought against any of the four on the grounds of
Last year, former High Court judge Mr Justice Henry Barron concluded
that four men, James Fitzsimmons, Richard Long, Samuel Carroll and Paul
Hosking, were in the car that took Mr Ludlow to his brutal death. By the
time the RUC told the gardaí in 1979 of the existence of the four, two,
Long and Carroll were in prison - the first for the murder of David
Spratt just a month after Ludlow's killing and the second for firearms
In his findings, Mr Justice Barron found that Garda officers had not
tried to interview the four because they had been directed not to do so
by more senior officers.
It was alleged that a formal policy existed preventing gardaí from
going into Northern Ireland for fear of the RUC demanding similar access
in the Republic.
Former garda commissioner Laurence Wren was probably the man who told
investigating officers not to go North, Mr Justice Barron ruled - a
charge vehemently and repeatedly rejected by Mr Wren.
In its report yesterday, the Oireachtas revealed a letter from Garda
headquarters which said Garda detectives travelled three times during
the 1970s into the North to take evidence. Garda Commissioner Noel
Conroy, his predecessor, Pat Byrne and Minister for Justice, Equality
and Law Reform, Michael McDowell have all apologised for the failings of
Commissioner Byrne was frank in his apology, believing that his
organisation had failed to follow the investigation through - though he
denied that it was conspiracy. Instead he blamed a series of errors.
Thirty years on, the Oireachtas inquiry has recommended that the gardaí
try again - that it attempts to follow the PSNI's "cold case
Meanwhile, the British government has been accused of failing to
co-operate fully with the inquiry.
The Oireachtas committee has recommended that a commission of
investigation be set up. Though it would have the powers of a public
tribunal, particularly to force the attendance of witnesses, it will
meet mostly in private. The family have rejected the recommendation.
Irish Times, 30 March 2006:
Key points made by the Oireachtas Committee on Justice on the Ludlow
A commission of investigation should investigate the Ludlow killing
It will be able to order witnesses to testify, seize papers and can
recommend a public inquiry later on.
A Garda investigation should be set up into why RUC leads in 1979 were
not followed up.
Oireachtas committee expressed "grave concerns" about
Changes already made to the Coroners Act should be implemented quickly.
Lack of co-operation from British authorities disappointing.
Garda commissioner Laurence Wren and a former detective inspector gave
conflicting evidence to the inquiry.