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The Barron Inquiry - Draft Terms of Reference for Inquiry - A Fresh Inquest 2005 Inquest Account - BIRW Report - Witness Account - Ludlow Family Account - Sunday World report May 1976 - Meeting the Police OmbudsmanEd Moloney Radio Interview - 25th Anniversary - Profile - Questions - Photographs - Press Release - Letter to  RUC - Magill article 1999 - Press Coverage - Barron Report Published - Ludlow Family Response to Barron Report - Download the Barron Report from the Oireachtas website (pdf file) - Statement from Justice for the Forgotten - Joint Oireachtas Committee Request for Submissions - Joint statement from Justice for the Forgotten, Relatives for Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre - Download Transcript of Ludlow family meeting with Oireachtas Sub-Committee (Word file)

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

We will now hear from Mr. Jimmy Sharkey, who is a nephew of Seamus Ludlow.  I welcome him to the meeting.

Mr. Jimmy Sharkey: I thank the sub-committee for inviting us here today.  I also thank Mr. Justice Barron for compiling his report, although it has left us with many unanswered questions.  We hope that some of those questions will be addressed today, but I must reiterate that the only proper forum in which those can be addressed is an independent public inquiry.  That is our bottom line, nothing less and nothing more.

I will go back over what Kevin Ludlow and Eileen Fox said about the informer thing.  The first time I ever heard about that was when Mr. Justice Barron told us about it at a meeting with him.  I do not have a clue where that came from.  It is stated on page 18 or 19 of the report that it came from a " source", but Mr. Justice Barron did not tell us who that source was.

Briege Doyle said she was questioned by the Garda Special Branch in the back of a car.  I, too, was twice questioned in the back of a car by Special Branch officers.  On the first occasion, they took a softly softly approach, as they tried to get to know what I knew and things like that.  The second time, they took a more hardline approach when they asked me who I thought killed Seamus.  They kept saying that it was the IRA, but I said I did not think it was the IRA.  When I mentioned to them that I thought the SAS or a loyalist group killed him, one particular garda got very agitated about that.  He kept pointing and gesturing to me in the back seat saying things like, "You know f-ing well who killed Seamus Ludlow.  You tell us it was the IRA".

I did not get agitated about that because I knew what these guys were up to.  Their whole persona and body language told me a different story.  I was probably more streetwise than Briege Doyle, so I knew about being taken into a car with strange people.  I knew what was happening in the north of Ireland at that time, with loyalist groups, the IRA and the SAS operating along the Border.  However, that was the line of questioning from the gardaí.  They did not want to hear anything about loyalist groups or the SAS; all they wanted to hear about was the IRA.

The reason for that, I believe, is that it suited the climate at the time.  The IRA was a threat to this State at that time, so anything that the gardaí could use in their armoury to fight against the IRA had to be used.  Here was a family, a member of which was killed, but the gardaí did not care about that - they had no interest in that whatsoever - as they were using it as a political means in the war against the IRA.

Of course, we lived in an area that was close to the Border - the nearest point to the Border was probably two miles away - so there was a lot of loyalist and republican activity on the Border at that time.  Numerous killings took place.  This was six months after the bombing in Dundalk, so security was high in the area.

Those people came down from Belfast that night.  They did not come down to kill Seamus.  I know who they came to kill.  Mr. Justice Barron was very interested to know where I got that person's name.  I would not tell him and have no intention of giving that name here today.  I will give it when a proper forum is set up.  I did not tell the Garda at the time who that person was.

 The people involved would not have taken the chance of driving into a hotbed such as Dundalk town or even into County Louth.  It would be like us going to the Shankill Road to kill someone.  One has to know where one is going.  These guys, two members of the British security forces, were in the town that night, in the car, heavily armed.  Their target did not appear, so they picked up Seamus.  It could have been anyone, but they killed him.

As a member of the Ludlow family, I can accept that Seamus was a victim of the fall-out of the Troubles in the North, but I cannot accept the lies and deceit which the Garda has spun for 30 years and which it is still spinning.  It has not even apologised.  When I started all this, I was followed by gardaí.  They asked me what I knew and so on.  The Garda has a lot to hide.

 When the journalist came to me with the information, he did not have a clue who killed Seamus.  He was told by a Garda source that it was fellows from Comber-Dundonald direction.  He did not believe that.  He asked me who I thought killed Seamus, and I said I thought it was the SAS.  He said this was wrong, that a Garda source had told him who it was, and that the Garda had known this for a long time, perhaps 20 years.  The garda who gave the journalist that information was one of the gardaí who questioned me in the car.

I also met that garda in 1978 in the Derryhill Hotel in Dundalk where I was at a meeting.  He recognised me in the hotel toilet and addressed me by name.  I asked him how he was and he said he was okay.  I said to him that I did not think he would know who I was.  He said he did know and that in his job he had to know who I was.  I said to him that if he knew who I was, could he tell me who killed Seamus Ludlow.  He said I knew effing well who killed him and he then walked out the door.

Joe Tiernan told me that he thought it was loyalists from the Portadown area who killed Seamus and he gave me a list of names which I handed over to the Garda.  I had the name of the driver of the car that night, but I did not hand it over.  The committee should not ask me why, but I did not hand it over.

I will now fast-forward 20 years to when I met the head of the gardaí in Dublin who had charge of the case.  I met him in the Ardboyne Hotel in Navan.  I was on my own.  He asked me about the case and told me that the names I passed on were not those of the people involved.  I asked him if he knew the names of those involved.  He said he did and that they were known for a long time.  He was able to tell me the car those people were in that night, where they were seated in the car and the conversation that went on in the car that night.  About three weeks later I met him again in the car park of the Garda station in Balbriggan.  It was a cordial meeting and we certainly got to know each other.  He said I might as well forget about it, since the names I had handed over were not the correct ones.  That is what he said.  It was around that time that I produced another name and handed it to him.  His face went white.  He asked me where I had got it but I would not tell him.  Personally, I feel it was from then on that the case took off. 

The gardaí involved said we had to deal with the families, taking those boys in to see if they had any other information.  It was then that they started to meet us in the house.  They met Kevin Ludlow and me there, as well as the mother.  Of course, they were gathering intelligence all the time and we were given only so much.  We were not getting very much back.  They did not tell us at that time who had killed Seamus Ludlow and it was the garda with whom I was in the car who told me that the Garda Síochána had that information.  Then the case took off and they started to interview different branches of the family, including the Sharkeys, the Donegans and the Ludlows.  He told us he would come back and tell us everything, but he did not do so.  I did not believe him, but I could not say that to the rest of the family. 

The case took off at that time and people were arrested in the North of Ireland and England.  Someone liaised with me and told me that the people in question were being interviewed in Castlereagh.  I met them in the car park of the Fairways Hotel one Saturday afternoon.  They kept saying to me that the interviews were going well enough but that the suspects were not saying very much.  Two were talking and two were not.  The worst that they thought I would get out of it was a file going to the DPP.  I think a decision had been made that a file would be sent to the DPP and that they would not prosecute the suspects.  They were obviously protecting whomever they had been protecting from 1976.  I felt they would not come back and say the suspects would be charged, even though two of them had implicated themselves in the murder.  I ask why those two were not charged and that if one charges two, why does one not charge the other two?  It opens a can of worms.

In general, the Garda Síochána's behaviour towards us over 30 years has been nothing short of terrible.  It has been a terrible experience for us all and even harder for Kevin Ludlow, Eileen Fox and Nan Sharkey.  It is also hard for the rest of us at times.  I was not surprised that the Garda did that or that the State acted as it did.  They have done so in similar cases, including the Monaghan and Dublin cases and, as we will see, that of Dundalk.  They simply did not care.  The only way that one will ever get answers is through an independent inquiry - it must be an inquiry.  That is all I have to say.

Chairman: I thank Mr. Sharkey for that very full account.

Deputy Costello: I, too, thank Mr. Sharkey for that very clear account.  How old was he when Mr. Ludlow died?

Mr. Sharkey: I was 21.

Deputy Costello: Therefore, Mr. Sharkey would have been absolutely aware of everything that was going on.

Mr. Sharkey: Yes, but I was trying to get on with my life.  Events were unfolding in the North of Ireland and I was aware of them.  I was more streetwise, but I was aware.

Mr. Costello: Where was Mr. Sharkey living at the time?

Mr. Sharkey: I was living at home.

Mr. Costello: Was the rumour out from the beginning that Mr. Ludlow had been murdered by the IRA?  Was there awareness in the community about it, or were rumours spread, or was it just something that the gardaí said to Mr. Sharkey?

Mr. Sharkey: It was something that the gardaí said to me, especially the second time when I being interviewed in the car.  The second time, I was put into the back seat of a car for nearly two hours.  I was not taken to the barracks.  I was questioned, which in itself can be very hostile.  They did not mention the IRA the first time, but they did the second time.  I think that once the gardaí were satisfied that some of the Ludlow family - not all of the family, but certain members such as Kevin Ludlow here - believed that it was the IRA, then they were happy enough.  In general, the people who lived around Thistlecross and Ravenshill in Dundalk were listening to what the Garda were saying and what was in the paper.

Mr. Costello: Was Mr. Sharkey's view that the gardaí had misbehaved, that they had misinformed him and that they were also blackening Mr. Ludlow's good name?

Mr. Sharkey: Yes.  They were blackening his good name for a reason.  I had a good idea that they had a reason for it, but at that time I had no clue what the reason was.  The family had not had any contact with the Garda before this.  The Garda Síochána is the law in this State and we would have respected the Garda, but the gardaí had no respect for us.  I still cannot understand why they were so hostile to us.

Mr. Costello: Has Mr. Sharkey a better idea now?

Mr. Sharkey: Yes I have.

Mr. Costello: Why does Mr. Sharkey think that the Garda Síochána did not pursue the investigation when there was firm information and evidence to follow?

Mr. Sharkey: In 1976 or 1979?

Mr. Costello: In 1979.  Mr. Justice Barron came to the conclusion that they did all they could in 1976, but they had substantial information to follow in 1979.  Would Mr. Sharkey agree with that analysis?

Mr. Sharkey: No.  The failings lie in 1976.  If the committee members look three years further on to 1979, then they are missing the whole thing.  They are not seeing the wood for the trees.  In 1976, the Garda probably did not know who killed Seamus Ludlow as they did not have enough concrete information, suspects and so on, but they knew the IRA did not do it.  There were only two groups carrying out killings at that time - apart from the SAS, which came on the scene around that time - and they were the republicans and the loyalists.  The Garda would have known that the loyalists were involved in the bombings in the town in December 1975, six months before Mr. Ludlow was killed.  They had to be channelling their intelligence elsewhere, but they kept a spin on the incident the whole time that it was the IRA, for the reasons that I outlined earlier.

Mr. Costello: Does Mr. Sharkey believe that the Garda Síochána deliberately chose not to pursue the investigation in 1976 and 1979?

Mr. Sharkey: Yes.

Mr. Costello: Can Mr. Sharkey elaborate on why he believes that?

Mr. Sharkey: In 1976, when they ran into the sand, they did not come back to us with what they had been told.  They did not come back to us and say: "This is what we have been told."  They kept up this spin that it was the IRA all the time.  That is all I ever heard.

Moving forward to 1979, when the gardaí received the information, they drove to Belfast.  They had to pass our house on their way back to Dublin.  They had the names.  It was for a reason.  It was probably due to the Cabinet at the time.  One must remember who was in power in 1976 and what their agenda was.  That is what I think should be considered.

Deputy Costello: But that was in 1979.

Mr. Sharkey: I know, but I am going back to 1976.

Chairman: We do not want to apportion responsibility now.  We want to stick to the policy issues, Deputy Costello.

Mr. Sharkey: With all due respect, I think that is what the feelings were in 1976.  The information was gathered over a period.  We had a meeting with the ombudsman in the North of Ireland.  She told us there was intelligence information from early 1977.  The question must be asked whether that was passed on to the Garda Síochána in Dundalk.  I believe it was.  It would have been passed on to certain gardaí and probably also to Garda headquarters.  However, the information was confined and only started to leak out after a while.

 In early 1976 there was no full presentation by the Garda Síochána.  Up to the present day, there is no trace of where his clothing went, where the bullets were sent and matters like that.  The gardaí failed twice.  They had chances to do their job in 1979 and 1998 but they did not do it.  The only way we will ever know why they did not do so is through an independent inquiry.

Deputy Costello: Mr. Sharkey stated he withheld from Mr. Justice Barron the name of a person he thinks the assassins intended to assassinate.  Has other information not been presented to Mr. Justice Barron?  For example, the information that the ombudsman had further information about 1977, to which Mr. Sharkey referred, does not seem to have been available to Mr. Justice Barron.  Are there other issues which Mr. Sharkey felt should be withheld because a public inquiry is the way to proceed, or for any other reason?

Mr. Sharkey: Mr. Justice Barron does not mention the ombudsman in the North of Ireland having intelligence.  It was there in the form of RUC special branch intelligence.  Again, this is where a public inquiry would come in.  Given that Mr. Justice Barron's report was held in private, we do not know what he heard or from who he heard it.  We cannot turn around in one year's time and go back to a private inquiry - it must be a public inquiry.  We must be able to ask the questions we have been waiting 30 years to ask.

 To answer the Deputy's question, it is hard to know what evidence Mr. Justice Barron heard.  He was very coy when I asked him anything.  He had his way around my questions.  However, when, during the meeting he had with us, he wanted to know whether I had the name of this man, he kept asking me from where I got the name and how I came by it.

Deputy Costello: Mr. Justice Barron did that.

Mr. Sharkey: Yes.

Chairman: We are not considering how Mr. Justice Barron conducted his inquiry.

Deputy Costello: No, we are not and I do not propose to do so.  I have a further question for Mr. Sharkey.  What happened with regard to the coroner's inquiry?

Mr. Sharkey: That was part of what I consider to be a cover up.  The aim was to keep the family away from the inquest.

Deputy Costello: Was any attempt made to contact the family?

Mr. Sharkey: No.  There was contact with Mr. Kevin Ludlow and there seemed to be a belief that once he was present, their job was done.  However, he was unable to be there.  The inquest was held without any of us there and without a legal team to represent us.  That answers everything.

Deputy Costello: Does Mr. Sharkey believe this was deliberate?

Mr. Sharkey: Everything was deliberate; it was all a plan.  We were to believe it was the IRA.  This was the information being thrown out.

Deputy Costello: When Mr. Sharkey says it was deliberate, is he referring to the Garda?

Mr. Sharkey: Yes, and the State.

Deputy Costello: Is he also referring to the coroner?

Mr. Sharkey: No, I do not believe the coroner would have known.

Chairman: We should not attribute blame or assign criticism to individuals.

  Mr. Sharkey: I was told by the Garda that he was sloppy.

Chairman: That is not acceptable.  There should be no such comments about individuals.

Mr. Sharkey: I am only saying what I was told.

Chairman: I ask Mr. Sharkey to cease making any direct criticism of an individual who can be readily identified.

 Deputy Costello: Let us withdraw the reference to the coroner.  Mr. Sharkey has stated that he believes the State and Garda were deliberate in handling the matter in the fashion they did.

Mr. Sharkey: Yes.

Chairman: I thank Deputy Costello.  I apologise to Mr. Sharkey but I must ensure that we remain within our terms of reference and what we are permitted to do.  I understand the frustration he may feel in this regard.

Mr. Sharkey: I most certainly am not frustrated.  I merely point out that I was told it was the first time the coroner-----

Chairman: I ask Mr. Sharkey not to say any more on this.  He should continue without any reference to this matter.

Deputy Hoctor: I thank Mr. Sharkey for his detailed and clear account.  Was he interviewed by the same personnel on the two occasions to which he referred?

Mr. Sharkey: No, I was interviewed by different people.

Deputy Hoctor: Is it Mr. Sharkey's opinion that those members of the Garda were sent on instructions to obtain certain information from him or to create a certain situation?  Does he believe they were people with full information on the matter?

Mr. Sharkey: They were probably sent to see what I knew.  On the first occasion, I was asked who I believed killed Seamus and whether he had ever told me about a falling out with anybody or if he had ever been threatened by anybody.  I said he had not.  There was an entirely different approach on the second occasion.  At that stage, the SAS had crossed the Border in the famous incursion at Flagstaff.  When I told them I believed the SAS was responsible, they - one in particular - became very agitated.

Deputy Hoctor: Were written records taken by the gardaí concerned during these discussions?

Mr. Sharkey: Yes, on both occasions they wrote on an A4 pad.  I was not asked to sign anything and would have refused to do so. Deputy Hoctor: Can Mr. Sharkey recall whether reference was made or suggested during those two instances that his family had been directly involved in the killing?

Mr. Sharkey: No.

Deputy Hoctor: No such reference was made?

Mr. Sharkey: No.

Deputy Hoctor: I wish to refer to another matter that has not been raised today and about which I seek clarification from the family.  References is made on page 62 of the report to the mysterious occurrence whereby an anniversary mass is celebrated every year for Seamus in Staffordshire in England.  I understand this continues to be the case.  Has there been further research as to who arranges this mass each year?  Mr. Justice Barron does not seem to draw any conclusion on this in his report.

Mr. Sharkey: We have no idea who requests this mass.  I did not know anything about it until told by Mr. Kevin Ludlow.

Mr. K. Ludlow: I spoke to the priest there.  It was not in the book of the list of the dead.  Still, the mass has been said.

Deputy Hoctor: I note that the first mass was celebrated one month after Seamus's death.

Mr. K. Ludlow: That was the month's mind.

Deputy Hoctor: A mass is celebrated each year.  Mr. Kevin Ludlow does not know who arranges it.

Mr. K. Ludlow: No.

Deputy Hoctor: Very well.

Chairman: The other three members have brief questions.  Deputy Power was the first to indicate that he wished to contribute.

Deputy P. Power: Mr. Sharkey, along with his colleagues, has asked us to recommend that there be a public inquiry.  To enable us to make or consider that decision, can he supply the name of the garda who questioned him in the car to the committee's legal adviser?  He has not revealed this name to date.  While I am not asking him to name names publicly now, is he in a position to reveal that name?

Mr. Sharkey: Yes.

Deputy P. Power: Perhaps he can do so after the meeting today.

Mr. Sharkey: Yes.

Deputy F. McGrath: Mr. Sharkey noted that he was streetwise in 1976.  Given the nature of the Troubles, were most young men living in County Louth streetwise like himself in respect of safety and security in the area, the question of loyalist paramilitaries, people crossing the Border and shootings and bombings?

Mr. Sharkey: Possibly, yes.  However when I say "streetwise", we were going to dances and so on and-----

Deputy F. McGrath: Was Mr. Sharkey always conscious of his safety and security?

Mr. Sharkey: Yes I was.

Deputy F. McGrath: Was Seamus similarly conscious?

Mr. Sharkey: No.  When Seamus got into the car that evening with those men, he would have seen them as----

Deputy F. McGrath: He simply took them on good faith.

Mr. Sharkey: Yes.  He would have thought-----

Deputy F. McGrath: That was his nature.

Mr. Sharkey: -----that those four chaps would take him home.

Senator J. Walsh: I have three time-related questions.  Did the meetings in Ashbourne and Balbriggan take place in 1995?

Mr. Sharkey: In 1997.

Senator J. Walsh:  In both cases?

Mr. Sharkey: Yes.

Senator J. Walsh:  Like Deputy Peter Power, I believe it would be helpful if Mr. Sharkey passed on through the solicitor the names of the gardaí who he met.  Mr. Sharkey stated that he had the name of the driver of the car.  When did he acquire that information which surprised the Garda at the time?  Was it long before that?

Mr. Sharkey: It was probably approximately a year to six months beforehand.

Senator J. Walsh: That was in 1976.

Mr. Sharkey: No that was in 1996.

Senator J. Walsh: I beg Mr. Sharkey's pardon.  He also mentioned that he believed the people involved came to target a particular individual and that he has the name of that individual.  When did he come into possession of that information?  I am aware that Mr. Sharkey is not prepared to disclose it.

Mr. Sharkey: At approximately the same time.

Senator J. Walsh: It was in or around 1996.

Chairman: Is Mr. Sharkey prepared to give the legal team the name of that individual?

Mr. Sharkey: No way.

Chairman: All right.

Senator J. Walsh: Can Mr. Sharkey give the reason as to why not?

Mr. Sharkey: I will do so if a proper forum is established.

Senator J. Walsh: Is the driver's name in accord with the name in the report?

Mr. Sharkey: Yes.

I Top

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Revised: February 07, 2006