says decision on Ludlow suspects not his
Garda commissioner Laurence Wren yesterday disputed a finding of the
Barron report into the murder of a Co Louth man that it was probably him
who had made a decision not to pursue the interrogation of four loyalist
suspects in Northern Ireland.
an Oireachtas justice sub-committee hearing on the Barron report on the
murder of Séamus Ludlow, Mr Wren said he did not know how the Barron
report reached that conclusion without any evidence.
Wren's evidence differed from that of former supt John Courtney, then of
the murder squad, who said he had been told Mr Wren had made the
decision not to question the suspects.
Ludlow (47), a single man and forestry worker, was shot dead on May 2nd,
1976, at Thistle Cross, Dundalk, as he went home after a night out. The
Barron report said he had no connections with any subversive
one has ever been charged with the murder. The report states the RUC
told the Garda in 1979 it believed four named loyalists were involved in
Mr Ludlow's killing but the information was not pursued by gardaí.
Mr Wren, who was at the time deputy commissioner and head of C3, an
intelligence-gathering unit, said as he understood it the then Supt
Courtney said he approached a Det Sgt Dan Boyle in C3 to make the
application to pursue the four suspects.
a rather curious way of going about it as he could have approached his
own superior officers," he said.
was one of the ones being criticised and I certainly had no part in the
investigation. There is no way I could have authorised Supt Courtney or
anybody else to travel up," Mr Wren said.
no stage was the issue discussed with him or was he approached about it,
said both the policy in a directive signed in 1953 and the legal
position were that gardaí were prevented from going up to interrogate
suspects in political or subversive cases in the North.
Wren said he had never heard of Supt Courtney's request to question the
suspects. C3 had no authority to allow anybody to go outside the
jurisdiction to question suspects.
asked about former commissioner Pat Byrne's conclusion that any decision
not to proceed could only have been made by Mr Wren in consultation with
the Department of Justice, he replied: "Not correct as far as I'm
Courtney told the committee he was given the names of four loyalist
suspects by the RUC 18 months after the murder.
said he was in regular touch with C3.
was disappointed that there wasn't something done about getting the
suspects interviewed. All I could do was take directions," he said.
was in touch Det Sgt Boyle in C3 whom he knew well and he told him no
action was to be taken.
asked if he was told by Det Sgt Boyle that it was Mr Wren who made the
decision, Mr Courtney replied: "I'm certain about that." He
added that he had never spoken directly with Mr Wren.
was told that if they had allowed it, the RUC would look for reciprocal
then minister for justice, Gerard Collins, said there were no
extradition facilities at the time.
key question is why the RUC did nothing about it and why they did not
say anything about it for 18 months," he said.
said there was no reason why the RUC could not have carried out an
investigation themselves in Northern Ireland.
assistant commissioner Joseph Ainsworth, who took over as head of
security, formerly C3, said he never saw the Ludlow file. It never