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Terms of Reference for the private Barron Inquiry and details of the Joint Oireachtas Committee investigating the murder of Seamus Ludlow

On this page we feature the Irish Government's  draft terms of reference for a private inquiry into the May 1976 sectarian murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth. This provides for a private inquiry under Mr Justice Henry Barron, similar to that already in progress into the Dublin/Monaghan and Dundalk bombings. 

The terms of reference was obtained from the Attorney General Michael McDowell, at Government Buildings, Dublin, on 21 February 2002.

This is not the public inquiry that the Ludlow family has been demanding since 1998.

This page also features a recent letter from the Department of the Taoiseach, in Dublin, which gives further details of the private Barron Inquiry process and particularly of the workings of the proposed Joint Oireachtas Committee that would review Justice Barron's final report.

Draft Terms of reference

Seamus Ludlow

To undertake a thorough examination, involving fact finding and assessment, of all aspects of the killing of Seamus Ludlow, including

  • the facts, circumstances, causes and perpetrators of the killing;

  • the nature, extent and adequacy of Garda investigations, including the co-operation with and from relevant authorities in Northern Ireland; and

  • the reasons why no prosecutions took place including whether, and if so by whom, and to what extent, the possibility of the initiation of criminal proceedings was impeded.

Seamus Ludlow, late of Mountpleasant, Dundalk, Co. Louth, died as a result of bullet wounds, on 1 or 2 May, 1976, apparently from having been shot by a third party or third parties.

Letter to James MacGuill, Solicitor, Dundalk, from the Department of the Taoiseach , dated 26 March 2002.


Dear Mr MacGuill,

I refer to our recent meeting with the Attorney-General and the question which arose at the meeting regarding the follow-up process to the examination by the Barron Independent Commission of Inquiry.

This is to confirm that Judge Barron will set out the results of his examination in a report and that report will be submitted to the Government.

As of now and subject to the outcome of the Supreme Court decision in the Abbeylara case it is proposed that:

  1. The report will be examined in public session by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Law Reform, Defence and Womens Rights or a sub-committee of that Committee. (Because of the separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature, it is not possible for the Government to direct the Oireachtas or a Committee thereof to take a particular action. However, the Government would do everything within its power to ensure that the Committee took this action and as cross-party support is expected for this approach, the Government are confident that matters would unfold along the lines envisaged."

  2. The Joint Oireachtas Committee would direct that the report prepared by Judge Barron would be submitted to it, in order for it to advise what the Oireachtas as to what further action, if any, would be necessary to establish the truth of what happened.

The Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Compellability, Privileges and Immunities of Witnesses) Act, 1997 enables the Oireachtas to confer power on an Oireachtas Committee to send for persons, papers and records and it is envisaged that, if it seems necessary in the light of Judge Barron's report, these powers would be invoked.

As the Government see the ,matter, there would be three approaches open to the Committee:

  1. advise that the report achieved as far as possible the objective of finding out the truth and that no further action would be required or fruitful;

  2. advise that the report did not achieve the objective which could only be done through a public inquiry; or

  3. advise that the report did not achieve the objective and the Committee should examine the matter further (as outlined previously, the options available to such committees or subcommittees include public hearings and powers to send for persons, papers and records).

I an to confirm that, as indicated in earlier correspondence and at our recent meeting, the Government are prepared to meet the reasonable costs of legal and any other relevant assistance to your clients in respect of their involvement in the work of the Commission of Inquiry.

Yours sincerely,

Paul McGarry,

Northern Ireland & International Division.

 I Top I I Hamilton Inquiry I


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