COMPLAINTS OF LUDLOW-SHARKEY FAMILY
It is clear that the catalyst for the family’s campaign to learn the full truth concerningthe Garda investigation into Seamus Ludlow’s murder was a meeting with investigative journalist Joe Tiernan, which took place in late 1995. According to members of the family, Tiernan had shown up at the Ludlow house some ten years previously. He spoke to James Sharkey’s mother, telling her that he had some information concerning Seamus Ludlow’s murder. She indicated that she was not interested in discussing the subject, and he left.
In October 1995, he returned and asked if he could speak to a member of the family.James Sharkey agreed to meet with him. According to the latter, Tiernan said he had been told by an unnamed Garda officer that the Gardaí knew all along who had killed Seamus. His Garda informant had not given him the names of the suspects, but had said that there were four of them and that they came from Dundonald, Belfast. Eventually in 1998, Tiernan named his Garda source to the family as D/Supt Owen Corrigan.22
Tiernan himself did not believe that loyalists from Belfast would come all that way tokill someone. His own belief was that Seamus Ludlow was killed by members of a loyalist subversive gang from Mid-Ulster, led by Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson.
Some months after his contact with the family in October 1995, Joe Tiernan invitedthe Ludlow-Sharkey family to a meeting organised by him at the Carrickdale Hotel. Also present were a number of other families from Mid-Ulster who had had relatives or family members murdered. Tiernan addressed the meeting and alleged that Robin Jackson and his associates were responsible for those murders. He produced a list of 19 suspects whom he said were part of Jackson’s gang.
Members of the Ludlow-Sharkey family had several more meetings with Tiernan. Heencouraged them to hold a press conference and also to write to the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána outlining the information he had given them.
On 2 May 1996 - the twentieth anniversary of Seamus Ludlow’s death - a pressconference was held by the family in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin. A letter was also sent to the then Garda Commissioner Patrick Culligan. In addition to setting out the information received from Joe Tiernan that loyalist subversives were responsible for the killing, a complaint was made that the family "were continually led to understand" by Gardaí investigating the murder that republicans from the North Louth area were responsible for the murder. The full text of the letter was as follows:
"Re: Murder of Seamus Ludlow, Dundalk 1976
We the Ludlow-Sharkey family, on this the occasion of the 20th anniversaryof the death of our beloved brother (and uncle) Seamus Ludlow, who was kidnapped and brutally murdered on 2nd May 1976, write to your to express our concern at the failure of the Gardaí to ever effect a prosecution in this case. We also wish to express our concern at the general conduct of the investigation by the Gardaí at the time, particularly in the light of new information which has subsequently come into our possession.
Following the murder and during the period when Gardaí conductedinterviews with members of our family, we were continually led to understand by individual Gardaí, that republicans from the North Louth area were responsible for the murder. We now of course know - from information supplied to us by a number of sources - that this was grossly misleading, and indeed mischievous information and that the murder was in fact carried out by loyalists from Northern Ireland in possible, (but un-proven) collusion with members of the Northern Ireland security forces.
It has further been brought to our attention that the people involved (or someof them) were the same people involved in the slaughter of three members of the Miami Showband less than a year earlier.
This tragic situation, as you can appreciate, has caused great pain andsuffering to all members of our family throughout the years, but in particular to those of us who have grown from minors to mature adults, and we are greatly baffled as to why the authorities should do this.
The tragedy and great sense of loss has been further compounded by the factthat Seamus was totally innocent of any wrong-doing and had no connection to any organisation whatsoever.
By reason of the foregoing our family now believes that there is an onus onthe authorities- even at this late stage- to put things rights and allow justice to be done.
We should greatly appreciate, therefore, if you as Garda Commissioner couldsee your way to order a new investigation into the murder with a view to bringing to justice those responsible for this terrible crime. The Ludlow-Sharkey family pledge its full and total co-operation in any such new investigation and undertake to provide the Gardaí with the name of the person believed to be the killer. We should point out however that we understand the Gardaí already possesses this information.
We would also greatly appreciate if you could see your way to meet adelegation from our family to discuss this tragic case in the light of these new developments. We are fully willing to travel to Dublin to attend any such meeting
Finally we wish to courteously inform you that the family, on this sad andsombre anniversary, has decided to avail of the opportunity to highlight some of the disturbing events surrounding this case in the media.
We look forward to hearing from you in anticipation.
The then Deputy Commissioner of Operations Pat Byrne requested that contact bemade with the Ludlow-Sharkey family. This was done, and a meeting was arranged for 16 May at the Ludlow household. An Garda Síochána were represented by D/Supt Michael Finnegan and Supt Michael Staunton. According to James Sharkey, local Sergeant Jim Gannon was also present, though he is not mentioned in D/Supt Finnegan’s report.
James Sharkey handed a list of seven suspects to the Garda officers. He told them theinformation had come from a journalist (Joe Tiernan), whom he declined to name at that time. D/Supt Finnegan concluded his report as follows:
"If the journalist in question meets us, a further report will follow on theoutcome of such meeting.
In the meantime, arrangements have been made with D/Sergeant BrendanMcArdle, Ballistics Section, to try and establish if the weapon used in the murder of Seamus Ludlow has since been used in any incident either in the Republic or in Northern Ireland and if so, to see if it can be linked to any particular group or individual."
On 27 May, James Sharkey contacted Supt Michael Staunton at Dundalk GardaStation to arrange a further meeting at the Ludlow family home on 30 May, at which Joe Tiernan was to be present. The meeting took place as planned, but the journalist did not come.
In a report to the Chief Superintendent, Dundalk dated 26 June 1996, D/SuptFinnegan indicated that further inquiries had revealed the existence of D/Supt Courtney’s report of 15 February 1979. He outlined its contents, stating:
"It contains information which on its face, looks likely to be true. It identifiesfour suspects for the murder, and gives an in-depth description of the role played by each. However, for some reason which is not set out in the file, it appears that these suspects were never arrested or interviewed about the murder."
D/Supt Finnegan noted that the four names were not known to the Ludlow-Sharkeyfamily. He then set out what was known of the four suspects’ current whereabouts, and asked for directions as to whether they should be interviewed about the Ludlow murder.
This report was forwarded to Deputy Commissioner Byrne, who on 11 July 1996directed that a Detective Superintendent from the Criminal Investigation Unit study the file and submit recommendations.
The officer chosen for the task was Detective Superintendent Ted Murphy (laterpromoted to Chief Superintendent). In the course of his work he interviewed members of the family, and undertook to investigate a number of additional matters raised by them.
A full account of these matters, and the information uncovered by C/Supt Murphy inrelation to them, is contained in a later section of this report. The next chapter concerns C/Supt Murphy’s findings in relation to the principal matter at issue – the reason why the four suspects were not interviewed in 1979 or subsequently – and the response of An Garda Síochána to his findings.
22Notes from meeting between the Inquiry and members of Ludlow-Sharkey family including James
Sharkey, 27 June 2002.