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Original Ludlow Family website - Second Ludlow Family website - The Dundalk Bombing

Daily Ireland, 15 February 2006:

Coroner calls for inquest law change

by Michael Brennan


The Dublin City Coroner yesterday called for a change in the law to ensure that families were notified of inquests.

There is currently no legal requirement for families to be notified, although most of the country’s 45 coroners have a practice of adjourning inquests if relatives are not present.

Dr Brian Farrell said the requirement should be made part of the forthcoming legislation to replace the 1962 Coroner’s Act.

“I would welcome statutory provisions making it mandatory that adequate and timely notice be given to families,” he said.

Dr Farrell was giving evidence to the Oireachtas sub-committee on justice, which is examining the murder of forestry worker Seamus Ludlow, in Dundalk, in 1976.

Judge Henry Barron found in his report that the Ludlow family were only contacted by gardaí about the holding of the inquest into their brother’s death 45 minutes before it was due to begin and, as a result, none of them were able to attend.

“Clearly under our practice, that simply would not pass muster.

“If the family were not there, we would say the inquest should be adjourned,” said Dr Farrell.

The families are usually contacted on behalf of the coroner by the gardaí investigating the death.

In Britain, this task is performed by officials from the coroner’s service.
“In an ideal world, having our own coroner’s officers would be the best solution and that’s not denigrating the role of the gardaí at all,” said Dr Farrell.

He said there were situations where some relatives didn’t attend an inquest because of a split in the family but added that, in general, there was a high level of attendance.

“The families invariably attend so it’s always a surprise when they’re not there.”

Last year, the Dublin City Coroner’s office dealt with 2,400 cases of sudden deaths, carried out 1,300 autopsies and held 410 inquests.

The Oireachtas sub-committee on justice also heard evidence from retired detective sergeant Owen Corrigan, who was a key figure in the Ludlow murder investigation.

He said he had travelled to Belfast in 1979 to meet officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) about a bombing in Dundalk. He was disappointed by their lack of co-operation but was very excited when they passed on the identities of four loyalist paramilitaries suspected of carrying out the Ludlow murder in January 1979.

“Taking everything into account, I felt this was very important information in relation to the investigation of our crime,” he said.

Mr Corrigan said he was absolutely devastated when he did not receive authorisation from C3, the Garda security section, to travel across the border again to follow up the information.

“I fully expected myself and Superintendent (John) Courtney to be going,” he said.

He was told by Superintendent Courtney that former Commissioner Larry Wren, then in charge of C3, did not want them to travel to interview the four suspects because the RUC would demand the extradition of four IRA suspects in return.

Judge Henry Barron accepted this account in his report, but Commissioner Wren has disputed it.

The four suspects were arrested in Northern Ireland in 1998, but the DPP there decided not to initiate a prosecution.

The Oireachtas sub-committee on justice is due to hear evidence from Judge Barron on Thursday.

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Download the Barron Report from the Oireachtas website (pdf file)


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Copyright © 2006 the Ludlow family. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 15, 2006