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The Irish Independent, 9 February 2006:

McDowell apology to Ludlow family over State's role

Paul Melia

JUSTICE Minister Michael McDowell has apologised to the family of the late Seamus Ludlow for the way they were treated by the state.

Appearing before a Joint Oireachtas sub-committee on Justice, which is considering the Barron Report into his murder, Mr McDowell said he was 'more than happy' to apologise on behalf of his department for the manner in which his family was treated.

Mr Ludlow, a 47-year-old single man from Dundalk, was shot dead as he walked home from a pub in May 1976. The Barron Report sharply criticised the garda investigation into his death, noting that the RUC told the gardai in 1979 that it believed four named loyalists were involved in the killing, but this information was not pursued at the time.

The Barron Report also found that Mr Ludlow, a forestry worker, had no connection with any subversive organisation.

"I can only speak for the department and the areas in which I have responsibility," the minister said. "I'm more than happy to express formally my deep regret to the family."

Addressing the committee, Mr McDowell also said that establishing a public inquiry into Mr Ludlow's death could present 'constitutional difficulties'.

"The real question is, is it appropriate to set up a tribunal of inquiry 30 years later, the effect of which will be to conduct an inquiry directed towards establishing if someone committed a crime 10, 20 or 30 years ago?" he said.

"If the committee came to the conclusion that this (the Garda investigation) was an unsatisfactory investigation, it still doesn't follow that it would be lawful for the state to establish an inquiry."

The fact that the DPP in Northern Ireland had directed that nobody be charged in connection with Mr Ludlow's death added to the 'constitutional issues' which the tribunal would have to contend with.

He added that even if a criminal prosecution was taken, the Good Friday Agreement could result in a person convicted in relation to his murder availing of the prison release scheme on the basis that the murder was politically motivated.

But the Ludlow case was 'not closed', he added, saying that gardai could still interview suspects in relation to his death.

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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 11, 2006