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Quoting from the Barron Report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. Published 3 November 2005:
RESPONSE TO LUDLOW FAMILY COMPLAINTS
1. SEARCHES FOR DOCUMENTATION
2. INFORMATION CONCERNING SUSPECTS
3. THE INQUEST
4. GARDA LIAISON WITH LUDLOW FAMILY
5. ALLEGATIONS OF IRA INVOLVEMENT IN LUDLOW MURDER
6. QUESTIONING OF KEVIN DONEGAN
7. ANNIVERSARY MASS IN ENGLAND FOR SEAMUS LUDLOW
During the period that the RUC investigation file was being prepared, Garda C/SuptMurphy was conducting enquiries into a number of related matters raised by the Ludlow-Sharkey family in meetings and correspondence. The main results of these enquiries were contained in a report dated 17 November 1998. It dealt with the following matters:
A complaint that the Ludlow-Sharkey family were not notified of the
The alleged failure of Gardaí to liaise with the family and keep them
An allegation that certain members of An Garda Síochána had deliberately
The questioning of Kevin Donegan by British Army personnel in 1976 concerning the death of his brother-in-law, Seamus Ludlow;
A radio interview given in 1983 by a local politician, Brendan McGahon TD in which he claimed he knew who the murderers were and that the IRA were responsible; and
The celebration since 1976 of an anniversary mass for Seamus Ludlow in St Austin’s Church, Staffordshire, England (without the knowledge of the Ludlow family).
A number of supplementary reports, outlining the results of further interviews andsearches for documentation were completed by C/Supt Murphy on 16 March 1999, 26 April 1999 and 19 May 1999.
SEARCHES FOR DOCUMENTATION:
In his report dated 16 March 1999, C/Supt Murphy outlined the searches fordocumentation that were carried out at his request, and the results of those searches. They were as follows:
Divisional Office, Drogheda; Garda Stations, Dundalk and Dromad:
The searches at these stations concentrated on correspondence registers andoccurrence books in existence during the period May 1976 to December 1980. No such records were found. In the case of Drogheda and Dundalk, it was confirmed that all such records for that period had been destroyed.
The only item of relevance to be discovered was a copy of the questionnaire formused in the original house-to-house investigation.
Administration Office, Garda Technical Bureau:
According to C/Supt Murphy, it was the practice of the Murder Investigation Unit toretain possession of all relevant documentation generated in the course of such investigations, and to store it at Garda Headquarters.
Detective Inspector Vincent Farrell and Detective Sergeant Gary Kavanagh checkedthe archives, which now come under the control of the Administration Office at the Technical Bureau. No documents relating to the murder of Seamus Ludlow were found.
Crime Branch, Garda Headquarters:
C/Supt Murphy consulted with staff members in this branch (formerly known asCrime Ordinary / C1), who confirmed that copies of the following documents were retained there:
D/Supt John Courtney’s report of 15 February 1979; and
Minutes issued from Garda Headquarters to C/Supt Cotterell,
Crime and Security Branch, Garda Headquarters:
Staff at this branch (formerly known as Security and Intelligence / C3) confirmed thatcopies of the following documents were on file:
In his report of 16 March 1999, C/Supt Murphy noted the existence of somecorrespondence from the RUC on C3 files, and stated:
"From my enquiries with RUC personnel I have been advised that anyavailable correspondence would be retained at ‘E’ Branch. Details of such correspondence is not available or forthcoming."
C/Supt Murphy has told the Inquiry that he assumes he would have made requests forthis material through the RUC detective who was acting as liaison officer to his investigation. He was not surprised that documents were not made available, as it would have been contrary to RUC Special Branch practice to release documentation.
INFORMATION CONCERNING SUSPECTS:
On the issue of when the information concerning Hosking, Long, Carroll andFitzsimmons first came to Gardaí, C/Supt Murphy confirmed that the identity of the suspects first came to the notice of the Gardaí via the letter from the RUC dated 30 January 1979. 35
In his report of 17 November 1998 he listed the available documents on the subjectfrom Garda files, before stating:
"An examination of the documentation listed… indicates:
no indications as to what developments, if any, were taking place in regard
no record of any directions as to what action was to be taken or by whom
a clear indication that Superintendent Courtney was personally dealing
no written indications from Superintendent Courtney as to what action he
In short, the documentation does not provide any clear indication as to whatprecise plan of action, if any, was being followed and by whom."
It is unlikely that Detective Superintendent Courtney was solely responsiblefor preparing and executing a plan of action without the knowledge of and or consent of his superiors; unfortunately, records now available do not assist in reaching any definite conclusions."
Interview with former C/Supt John Courtney:
John Courtney retired in 1991 at the rank of Chief Superintendent. He wasinterviewed by C/Supt Murphy concerning the Ludlow case on 20 October 1998.
Regarding the original 1976 investigation he stated:
"Assisted by members of the Murder Squad and local Gardaí I carried out athorough investigation which failed to identify those responsible. I had an open mind as to who was involved. Nonetheless the possibility of a subversive involvement such as the IRA and UVF was fully checked out but there was no evidence to show an involvement by these groups."
He then recounted his meeting with RUC officers in 1979, and the informationreceived:
"I thanked them for their assistance and said I would follow it up immediately.On my return to Dundalk I am satisfied that I made out a report within a day or two outlining details of this new information I had received… In my own view I would have expected that I would have got directions to have the suspects interviewed in conjunction with the RUC because I believed that these four persons had committed the murder or were very strong suspects for it. I never received any directions. I was disappointed and surprised."
C/Supt Courtney said he took it upon himself to contact a D/Sgt Dan Boyle, thenattached to C3 branch at Garda Headquarters:
"He discussed the case with me and was satisfied that there was a good caseagainst the four men. He told me that he had discussed the case with Mr Larry Wren who was then either a Chief Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner in charge of C3. Mr Wren had advised Mr Boyle that there was to be no further action taken in the case. I asked him why and he (Mr Boyle) said that Mr Wren had said that if the four suspects were to be extradited to the Republic of Ireland a similar number of extraditions of IRA suspects would be sought by the RUC and he didn’t want this to happen. In the light of Mr Wren’s directions (verbal) I was prohibited from taking any further action in the case. I was most disappointed and annoyed with the directions of Mr Wren"
"I was never approached by anyone, neither was the case discussed with mesubsequent to my conversation with Det Sgt Dan Boyle. During my investigations in 1976 I was satisfied that Seamus Ludlow had no known associations with any subversive groups. The information I obtained from the two RUC officers concerning the four suspects was not discussed with any of the investigation personnel in Dundalk."
C/Supt Murphy interviewed former C/Supt Courtney again on 25 March 1999.Courtney said that to the best of his recollection, the purpose of his visit to Belfast in 1979 had been to discuss the Dublin / Monaghan bombings of 1974 with Detective Chief Superintendent Bill Mooney, RUC (now deceased). He could not recall the specifics of what was discussed. He confirmed that D/Sgt Owen Corrigan had accompanied him.
He was adamant that no prior arrangement had been made to meet the RUC officersfrom whom he received the information concerning the Ludlow suspects. He also said that he received no documentation from the officers at that meeting.
When C/Supt Murphy informed him that the suspects were first mentioned by theRUC in a letter to C3, Garda Headquarters dated 30 January 1979, Courtney was surprised and said this document had never been produced to him or brought to his attention. He remained sure that the first he had heard of the four suspects was at the Belfast meeting on 15 February 1979. 36
C/Supt Murphy believed that the letter from the RUC dated 14 February 1979, whichreferred to a request by Supt Courtney for further details on the suspects, implied that he must have known of their existence before the meeting on 15 February. But as we have seen, this letter was not received in Garda Headquarters until 28 February, and it is likely that it was posted on the 24 th , not the 14 th . This supports C/Supt Courtney’s contention that he had no knowledge of the suspects until the 15 th , but leaves open the question as to why he was not given the information when it was received at Garda Headquarters on 30 January and passed to the Divisional Office on 5 February.
Interview with former C/Supt Richard Cotterell:
The Divisional Officer in Drogheda at the time, former Chief Superintendent RichardCotterell was interviewed on 24 March 1999. He recalled the murder of Seamus Ludlow, but could not place it chronologically. Having examined the investigation file, he remembered visiting the murder scene on 2 May 1976.
He said that the Murder Investigation Unit had set up their incident room in DundalkGarda Station. He visited them there occasionally, but it was his policy not to interfere with their work. He could not recall the names of the personnel involved in the investigation.
C/Supt Murphy showed him Supt Courtney’s report of 15 February 1979. Cotterellstated:
"I can’t recall this report. It was my belief at the time that Supt John Courtneywould have fully checked out these suspects. When nothing subsequently arose in relation to these suspects I presumed that there was no substance in the inferences and that the matter could not be pursued further by Supt Courtney. At this point in time I cannot honestly say whether I had any discussion with Supt Courtney concerning the four suspects. In fact I cannot now recall anything about these four suspects.
Apart from the report of Supt Courtney… I did not have conversations withany other officer or person; nor was I requested by my authorities to take any action concerning the four named suspects. I cannot understand why these four suspects were not properly dealt with."
Interview with former D/Sgt Daniel Boyle:
D/Sgt Daniel Boyle (now retired) was also questioned by C/Supt Murphy. He said hehad "a vague recollection" of the Ludlow case, but had no recollection of any conversations with D/Supt Courtney on the subject.37
Interview with former Commissioner Larry Wren:
Former Garda Commissioner Larry Wren was interviewed on 16 November 1998, butsaid he had no recollection of the Ludlow murder. C/Supt Murphy noted that there was no documentation or records available to assist any of these members in recalling correspondence or directions concerning the suspects.
In his November 1998 report, C/Supt Murphy concluded by saying:
"Enquiries completed in the matter merely confirm that no action was taken inregard to processing the four suspects. It is now a matter of speculation as to where precisely the blame lies. Perhaps each of the offices and officers concerned are responsible for the inaction considering that a report was forwarded to the relevant offices at the time."
35Report of C/Supt Murphy, 16 March 1999.
36 Report of C/Supt Murphy, 26 March 1999.
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The Ludlow family supports the campaign by the Rooney and Watters families of Dundalk for an inquiry into the murderous Dundalk Bombing of 19 December 1975 which resulted in the sectarian murder of Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters.
Further information can be accessed at their campaign website.
The 1st. Barron Report on the May 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings can be downloaded in pdf format from: http://www.irlgov.ie/oireachtas/Committees-29th-D%E1il/jcjedwr-debates/InterimDubMon.pdf
The 2nd.Barron Report on the Dublin Bombings of 1972 and 1973, and other incidents along the Irish border, can be downloaded in pdf form from: http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/committees29thdail/jcjedwr/Dublin_Barron_Rep031204.pdf
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