The Murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth, May 1976. Towards a public inquiry?




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The Belfast Telegraph, 7 September 2005:

Probe call into 1976 murder

By Michael McHugh


There were fresh calls for a public inquiry today after an inquest into a Troubles murder linked to the UDA closed.

The call came from the family of Dundalk man Seamus Ludlow (47), who was shot dead in May 1976, allegedly by a group of loyalists from Northern Ireland.

The case has raised serious questions about a high-level Garda decision to quash the original investigation despite knowing the identity of four suspects and the failure Northern Irish authorities to prosecute two people who made admissions to the RUC about their part in the killing.

The two-day hearing before Louth County Coroner Ronan Maguire at Dundalk courthouse heard a number of startling revelations. Among these were the following:

The investigating officer, then Detective Inspector John Courtney was told the names of the four alleged killers, linked to the UDA by the RUC in 1979, but his request for authority from counter-subversive chiefs in Dublin to interview was not granted.

Gardai investigating the crime failed to retain crucial evidence from the crime scene including the clothing which the deceased was wearing.

The RUC interviewed the suspects in 1998 and heard admissions from two of them linking them to the killing and yet there still have not been any convictions.

Mr Ludlow was the victim of a "random" act by killers from Northern Ireland who were simply looking for any unlucky victim.

He was last seen late at night in Dundalk, where he often hailed a lift back to his home.

IRA involvement in the killing - a long-term rumour in the Dundalk area which would imply the victim was informing on republicans - was ruled out within three months of the Garda's investigation.

Jimmy Sharkey, a nephew of Mr Ludlow, said the second inquest into the murder after an intervention by the Irish Attorney General gave further support to relatives' calls for a public inquiry.

The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing but a request to make a recommendation was turned down by the coroner.

The family's senior counsel, Deirdre Murphy, had appealed for a proviso to be made about the police investigation in an effort to remedy alleged system failures.

See also:


Ulster Television online report, 5 September 2005: Inquest into death of Seamus Ludlow

RTE News online report, 5 September 2005: Second inquest into Louth murder 05 September 2005 17:19  

RTE News online, 6 September 2005 22:08 Unlawful killing verdict at Ludlow inquest

The Irish News, 7 September 2005: 'Gardai evidence strengthens case for public inquiry'

Daily Ireland, 7 September 2005: Call for public inquiry

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Revised: September 11, 2005