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The Dundalk Democrat, 21 September 2005:

We were afraid to talk back

Sisters break their silence

Although the campaign has been led by Seamus' brother Kevin and nephews Jimmy Sharkey and Michael Donegan, the past 29 years have greatly affected all the family.

Seamus' sisters Nan Sharkey and Eileen Fox were both present for the inquest and while they are happy to see the truth coming out in public it has also brought many years of hurt to the fore.

For the first time the family speak of how they were 'treated like lepers' while Seamus' memory was sullied with lies.

Seamus lived in the same house as Nan and her family along with their mother Annie. While Nan had to grieve for her brother, she also had to look after her mother who was unaware of how her son had died.

She recalled the weekend of Seamus' murder and the point at which her family life changed forever.

"I had gone to Mass in the convent and was saying to friends that Seamus had not come home and that he had never stayed out of the house before."

Nan's son Jimmy and others had been out looking for Seamus in case he had slept in some friend's house. They were returning along the Ballymascanlan Road and saw a Garda cordon at the Bog Road.

"We went to the garda and asked what was going on. He asked 'What do you want to know for?'  I told him Seamus wsas missing and he said 'You may go up.'

In the days that followed the family told Annie that Seamus had been killed in a car accident.

"We couldn't tell her he had been murdered. She loved Seamus and always worried about him. It would have been awful to tell her he was murdered.

"She always maintained she saw lights shining through the window the night of Seamus' death and she thought that it would have been the car that killed him."

While the family struggled to protect their mother from the truth it was not always easy.

Annie died 18 months after Seamus. In the days, months, weeks and years that followed the family went through the trauma of having to refute alegations that Seamus was an IRA informant, murdered by the IRA and possibly with his own family involved.

While many friends stood by the family others walked away.

Jimmy Sharkey explained: "We were like lepers."

Nan said her late husband John was also treated cruelly.

"One day a Garda John knew turned his back on him and that was something he found very hard to accept."

Eileen Fox said Gardai called to her house frequently and for no real reason.

"A Garda used to come here and ask for my husband Tommy. It really was a case of intimidation and pure nastiness."

It was not the only time Eileen felt intimidated and it was not limited to just the family, Eileen said.

"My daughter's boyfriend of the time was always being annoyed by the Gardai. He eventually lost his job."

But there were some Garda who just disappeared into the background.

Shortly after Seamus' funeral one Garda came to us. We knew him. He said if three or four men were standing before me asking what did I want to happen what would I say.

"I told him 'Go up the north and get my brother's murderers and don't be asking me.'

"He left the house but I knew he believed what we said.

So why did the family wait so long to do something?

Eileen said simply: "We were green. We were afraid to talk back."

In this photograph (L-R) Nan Sharkey and Eileen Fox, sisters of the late Seamus Ludlow,  hold a picture of their murdered brother Seamus. (Photograph from The Dundalk Democrat)

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Copyright 2005 the Ludlow family. All rights reserved.
Revised: December 29, 2005