Quoting from the Barron Report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. Published 3 November 2005:
Seamus Ludlow, a 47 year-old, unmarried forestry worker from Thistle Cross,Dundalk, Co. Louth, was killed in the early hours of the morning on 2 May 1976. He was shot a number of times. To date, no one has been charged in relation to his death.
Towards the end of 1995, members of the Ludlow-Sharkey family receivedinformation from a journalist to the effect that a group of loyalist extremists from Mid-Ulster were responsible for Seamus Ludlow’s murder. Over a series of meetings, the journalist named specific persons whom he believed should have been suspects for the murder. He suggested that the family hold a press conference, and also contact the Garda Commissioner with this information.
On 2 May 1996, the twentieth anniversary of Seamus Ludlow’s death; a pressconference was held by the family in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin. A letter was also sent to the then Garda Commissioner Patrick Culligan. The letter expressed concern at the failure to effect a prosecution in the case, and at "the general conduct of the investigation by the Gardaí at the time." In particular, it was said that in the period following the murder, the family had been led to believe by individual Gardaí that republican paramilitaries were responsible. The letter concluded:
"We would greatly appreciate, therefore, if you as Garda Commissioner couldsee your way to order a new investigation into the murder with a view to bringing to justice those responsible for this terrible crime. The Ludlow-Sharkey family pledge its full and total co-operation in any such new investigation and undertake to provide the Gardaí with the name of the person believed to be the killer. We should point out however that we understand the Gardaí already possess this information."
A new investigation was ordered by the Commissioner, and this re-activation of thecase brought to light information received from the RUC in 1979 concerning four loyalist suspects for the killing. The RUC had also offered to arrange interviews with two of the suspects; but it seems that the offer was not taken up at the time.1
When this was brought to the attention of the Comissioner in 1997, contact was madewith the RUC and the four men were arrested by RUC officers in February 1998. The four, whose names were not among those given to the Ludlow-Sharkey family by the journalist in 1995/96, were interviewed and released. A file was then sent to the
Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland for a decision on whether chargesshould be preferred against these men.
THE VICTIMS’ COMMISSION:
On 10 April 1998, an agreement, known as the ‘Good Friday Agreement’ was reachedas a result of multi-party talks under the Chairmanship of United States Senator George Mitchell, former Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri and Canadian General John de Chastelain. The Agreement was ratified by popular referendum in this State and in Northern Ireland on 22 May of that year.
In response to sections of the Agreement that proclaimed the need for the suffering ofvictims of violence to be recognised and addressed, a Victims Commission was set up in this State. It was asked:
"To conduct a review of services and arrangements in place, in thisjurisdiction, to meet the needs of those who had suffered as a result of violent action associated with the conflict in Northern Ireland over the past thirty years and to identify what further measures need to be taken to acknowledge and address the suffering and concerns of those in question."2
In a report published in July 1999, it was acknowledged that there was a widespreaddemand to find out the truth about specific crimes for which no one had been made amenable. The murder of Seamus Ludlow was singled out for attention in this regard.
At the time of publication of the report, the Director of Public Prosecutions inNorthern Ireland had not yet made a decision as to whether prosecutions would be initiated in the Ludlow case. With that in mind, the report concluded:
"Because a file on this case is now with the DPP in Northern Ireland, I amanxious that no recommendation of mine should endanger the prosecution of any guilty party. At the same time I am aware of the family’s strong wish that the full truth of the case should be brought to light. I am swayed by their argument that a criminal trial will not necessarily bring out the full facts of the case. I recommend that an enquiry should be conducted into this case along the lines of the enquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. To avoid compromising any criminal prosecution, this inquiry should not publish its report until any prosecution has finished, unless no prosecution has been initiated before the completion of the inquiry or within twelve months, whichever is the later."
As will be seen, the DPP in Northern Ireland subsequently decided not to initiate anyprosecutions in relation to the Ludlow murder.3
THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY:
Arising from the recommendations of the Victims Commission, the Government setup the present Commission of Inquiry with former Chief Justice Liam Hamilton as Sole Member. Mr Hamilton began his duties on 1 February 2000 but was forced to resign on 2 October 2000, owing to ill health. The Government appointed former Supreme Court judge Henry Barron in his place. Initially, the Inquiry received terms of reference in relation to two incidents – the Dublin / Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974 and the bombing of Kay’s Bar, Dundalk on 19 December 1975. At a later date, the Inquiry agreed to report also on the shooting of Seamus Ludlow, under the following Terms of Reference:
To undertake a thorough examination, involving fact finding and assessment,of all aspects of the killing of Seamus Ludlow, including:
•The facts, circumstances, causes and perpetrators of the killing;
•The nature, extent and adequacy of Garda investigations, including co-operation with and from relevant authorities in Northern Ireland;
•The reasons why no prosecutions took place, including whether, and if so by whom and to what extent, the possibility of the initiation of criminal proceedings was impeded; and
•The material, information and evidence presented at the inquest into Mr Ludlow’s death and the circumstances relating to the non-attendance of relatives of Mr Ludlow at the inquest.
1See chapter 3.
2 A place and a name – report of the Victims Commission, July 1999, p.2.
3 See chapter 5.
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