Relatives of Co Louth man Seamus Ludlow have welcomed an apology by the
Republic's justice minister for their treatment by the state.
Michael McDowell made the apology yesterday (Wednesday) while addressing an
Oireachtas committee examining the Barron report on the 1976 murder.
Mr Ludlow (47), was abducted by loyalist paramilitaries while walking home
from a pub in Dundalk. His body was found the following day dumped in a
laneway. He had been shot three times.
No-one has ever been charged with the murders, although the names of four
suspects – with links to the Northern Ireland security forces – have been
in the public domain for several years.
Mr McDowell said it was a matter of "profound regret" that gardai
had failed to conduct a proper investigation into the killing. In his report,
Mr Justice Henry Barron was severely critical of the way gardai handled the
original murder investigation. He singled out investigators' failure to follow
up key information identifying the four suspected perpetrators.
Mr Ludlow's nephew Jimmy Sharkey last night said it was "great"
to learn of the minister's apology, adding that he hoped it was a "step
in the right direction" towards a full public inquiry.
Members of the Ludlow family last month told the committee they had been
treated badly by gardai, who wrongly claimed the dead man had subversive
connections and failed to inform relatives of his inquest date.
During the committee hearings, former Garda commissioner Laurence Wren
rejected Mr Justice Barron's finding that it was probably him who made a
decision not to pursue the interrogation of four loyalist suspects in Northern
However, former Superintendent John Courtney insisted he had been given the
names of four loyalist suspects by the RUC 18 months after the murder but was
told by his superiors that no action would be taken.
Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy last week expressed his regret that the
murder investigation had not been brought to a satisfactory conclusion.
Mr Conroy said he had no difficulty in asking the PSNI if there was any
avenue left to enable the reopening of the case.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin's Caoimhghin O Caolain called for the immediate
setting up of a public inquiry. A statement read yesterday by the TD before
the Oireachtas committee, on behalf of an "anonymous" third party
from Northern Ireland, suggested that new information would be made available
if such an inquiry was set up.