Latest: Revised: February 05, 2008.
A group of Ludlow family members were in Dublin on Tuesday 22 January, 2008, for a meeting at 10.00am with An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
The meeting, at the Department of the Taoiseach, Government Buildings, was also attended by Mr James MacGuill, the Ludlow family solicitor, and by Jane Winter, Director of British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW), London. Another welcome attendee was Co Louth Fianna Fail TD Seamus Kirk.
Jane Winter has been a valued supporter of the Ludlow family campaign for truth and justice since 1998. She has accompanied the Ludlow family to many such meetings over the years, including meetings with the former minister for justice John O'Donoghue; the former Attorney General Michael McDowell; and the former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan. She has also compiled an independent Report on the Death Of Seamus Ludlow, which can be found on this site. Just click on the link above.
The Ludlow family appreciates the support of Jane Winter and BIRW and all they have done for the campaign in recent years.
The Ludlow family circle was represented at the meeting with An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern by Seamus' only surviving brother Kevin Ludlow; his sister Mrs Nan Sharkey, and her sons Jimmy and Nicholas Sharkey, and her daughter Mrs Briege Doyle; and nephews Brendan Ludlow and Michael Donegan. Mrs Eileen Fox and Mrs Kathleen Donegan, also sisters of the late Seamus Ludlow, were unable to attend.
The Ludlow family was quite pleased that the meeting went well. The family put its case for a public inquiry into Seamus Ludlow's death, and the Taoiseach listened to it.
As Jimmy Sharkey has been quoted: "It was a very cordial meeting and we are very happy with the outcome."
Though the meeting was indeed cordial throughout, Mr Ahern appeared to show he doesn't favour a public inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow.
He pointed out that an inquiry looking into matters of collusion, the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, Seamus Ludlow and a whole host of other incidents would go on for years and cost millions. There was also the matter of the Six Counties authorities being less than willing to cooperate, as they have been with the previous Barron and Oireachtas inquiries.
Indeed, a number of tribunals of inquiry are already in progress several months, if not years, investigating matters involving, planning, finances and corruption. Some of these inquiries continue with no end in sight, and are costing huge sums of taxpayers' money in terms of legal fees.
The Ludlow family responded that they are not calling for such an expensive or endless inquiry. The Ludlow family can't accept a lengthy inquiry as several members are advanced in years, and they need to see the desired truth and closure as soon as possible. The Ludlow family does not want to waste taxpayer's money unnecessarily, when a more cost-effective and shorter focused inquiry is both possible and desirable..
And, while British cooperation would be welcome, and indeed helpful, it was the view of the Ludlow family that any British failure to cooperate with a public inquiry into the collusion aspects of Seamus Ludlow's murder in the Iriah State should not be cast as a reason for no inquiry. Such indifference could give rise to inferences that Britain should want to avoid.
As Jimmy Sharkey, again, says: "There was some discussion about collusion but we are more concerned about the cover-up of a murder which took place in this State.
"We feel that a focused independent inquiry to be held over a set period of time would give us some of the answers we've been asking for."
"I stress the word focused as we want the inquiry to look specifically at the findings of the Barron Report (2005) and Jouint Oireachtas Committee Report (2006). We do not want a long drawn out affair that will last for years and cost the taxpayer millions as some of these ongoing tribunals have."
"Our objective is and always has been to find out the truth about our brother's murder. We don't want some kind of financial pay-off, we just want the truth which would enable myself, my three sisters and our extended families to achieve some kind of closure on the case after 32 years and so that Seamus can finally rest in peace."
The family assured Mr Ahern that they don't see any point in re-opening the investigation into Seamus Ludlow's abduction and murder by loyalist paramilitary/UDR personnel as vital files and forensic evidence, including bullets and clothing has been lost. Also, it had long been d4ecided by the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that there would be no prosecutions.
The Ludlow family accepts that it is beyond doubt that the killers are known, even if they can never be brought to justice for their crime! The Ludlow family does not need an inquiry to reveal who drove the car or who fired the shots into Seamus Ludlow's body. The Ludlow family does want an inquiry into who allowed them to escape from justice.
The Ludlow family is only calling for a limited and focused inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. It would be focused on the questions left by the failure of the Barron and Oireachtas Committee Reports, namely the cover-up, the stalled investigation, the first inquest and other matters in relation to how the Ludlow family was treated after the murder. It would concentrate on the interviewing, under power of subpoena, of witnesses in the Republic of Ireland who would have such information.
It was pointed out that the limited number of witnesses required, mainly gardai and department of justice people, serving or retired, are in his jurisdiction, along with the files and documentation that are relevant. Such an inquiry should only take a few weeks, months at most.
It would have the full cooperation of the Ludlow family, as Mr Ahern was assured. The Ludlow family would of course cooperate fully with any focused inquiry as it has likewise cooperated fully with all inquiries to date.
This process began with an internal Garda inquiry led by Chief Superintendent Ted Murphy (now retired). The family cooperated fully, albeit with certain misgivings as to its failings, with the Hamilton-Barron Inquiry process, which released a report in 2005, and the oral hearings of the Joint Oireachtas Committee which published a report in 2006.
The family, independently, secured the reopening of the inquest by Order of the then Attorney General Michael McDowell, and though the inquest was limited in its scope, the family cooperated and participated as much as it was allowed.
Throughout these processes the Ludlow family has contended that the logical and only satisfactory way of resolving these grave matters once and for all is the holding of a sworn public inquiry. This point was put to Mr Ahern.
It was agreed that Mr James MacGuill, the Ludlow family solicitor would consult with the attorney general (AG) about a list of proposals for a focused inquiry about the family's proposals. It was hoped that the Ludlow family would meet with the AG in the near future. So, we'll see what happens next.
At the closure of the meeting, Seamus Kirk TD, who had been present throughout, kindly remained for a few minutes of discussion, and he was asked to use his influence to have the matter advanced further.
As indicated elsewhere on this Ludlow family website, the Ludlow family had been seeking a meeting with Mr Ahern for the past ten years - but without success.
It came somewhat as a surprise when Mr Ahern actually told the Ludlow family group that he had in fact met them before a number of times! Not so, Mr Ahern!
He specifically cited one occasion as being the day back in May 2001 when his cabinet met at the Ballymascanlan Hotel, within 400 metres of the lane where Seamus Ludlow was murdered. The Ludlow family sought a meeting with him that day but he would not meet with them.
Instead a meeting was held with then Minister for Justice, Mr John O'Donoghue, TD. See The Dundalk Democrat of 19 May 2001 for a report of the Ludlow family's meeting with Mr O'Donoghue at Ballymascanlan.
The brother and nephew of the 47-year-old forestry worker who was murdered 25 years ago this month attempted to hand a letter to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the cabinet meeting at Ballymascanlan Hotel outside Dundalk.
Kevin Ludlow and Jimmy Sharkey presented the letter to Justice Minister John O'Donoghue after they were told the Taoiseach would not be accepting it. . .
The Balymascanlan meeting with Mr O'Donoghue was followed soon after by a disastrous meeting wiith him in Dublin.
On that occasion the Minister for Justice tried to persuade the Ludlow family to accept the Barron Inquiry. When his bullying tactics failed, the ill-mannered Mr O'Donoghue abruptly left the meeting without saying goodbye. See also The Sunday Business Post, of 17 June 2001, for an article headlined "Murdered man's family says justice minister was 'hostile' ", for a report of this second meeting with the minister for justice.
The Ludlow family soon after this unfortunate meeting with Mr O'Donoghue joined the Barron Inquiry process on sound legal advice, but not at the persuasion of Mr O'Donoghue.
All of this is to digress from our account of a very favourable meeting with the Taoiseach on 22 January 2008. It serves only to set the record straight.
The Ludlow family appreciate the welcome they received from An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his kind staff at the Department of the Taoiseach on 22 January 2008. Mr Ahern was kindly and sympathetic throughout the meeting and he did show a willingnness to listen to the Ludlow family's point of view.
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Also: The Argus (Dundalk), 23 January 2008: Family seeking Ludlow inquiry
You will find below links to two brief videos on RTE TV News bulletins from today. They don't say much about the meeting with Mr Ahern, but you may like to view them. Click on the appropriate video links on the RTE News pages.
RTE 1.pm news, 22 January 2008:
Richard Dowling, North-East Correspondent, reports that the family say their campaign for the truth surrounding Seamus Ludlow's killing will go on
RTE 6.01 News
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