04 November 2005

Family seeks apology over Ludlow death probe


04/11/2005 - 09:35:04

The family of Seamus Ludlow today demanded an apology from the Gardaí over the investigation into their brother’s death in 1976.

Justice Henry Barron found in his report that the Dundalk forestry worker was the victim of a random sectarian killing by loyalist extremists.

But his brother, Kevin Ludlow, said the family would be seeking an apology from the Gardaí, who gave them the impression that their brother had been killed by the IRA.

“We were treated as dirt by the guards. I know that the ordinary guards on the street had to take orders from higher up and only did what they were told but the first inquest was a shambles anyway.”

He said the family still wanted an independent public inquiry.

“There’s still a lot of questions to be answered. The big question is why was so much covered up? Why were we told lies for 30 years?”

Seamus Ludlow was abducted in Dundalk in May 1976 while returning home from a pub and was found later dumped in a ditch near his home with three gunshot wounds to the chest.

The Barron report, released under full parliamentary privilege, praised the Gardaí for carrying out a diligent and competent investigation in the face of unreliable intelligence information.

But Justice Barron asked why details of the four suspects, provided by the RUC in 1979, were never pursued.

He said the investigating officer, Det Supt Dan Murphy, may have abandoned plans to interview the suspects because they were outside the jurisdiction.

At the second inquest earlier this year into Mr Ludlow’s murder, senior gardaí gave evidence that they knew who the killers were but were stopped by Garda Headquarters from pursuing them.

Mr Ludlow told RTE radio that he believed the family would never get justice.

“They (the men responsible) could have been brought to justice 18 months after the murder and they'd have done their time and it’d be all over.”

He said the garda investigation had caused division in his family.

“The Gardaí did try to split up the family, and in a certain extent, they did do that. Thank God, everything is all right now. There’s no split in the family and we’re all coming together.”

The Barron report states that Mr Ludlow was picked up in a car in May 1976 by four men: James Fitzsimmons, Richard Long, Samuel Carroll and Paul Hosking.

It said: “Information obtained by the RUC from Hosking suggested that it was Carroll who shot Seamus Ludlow. The inquiry has not been in a position to test the veracity of this allegation.”

The Garda Commissioner, Noel Conroy, is currently examining the Barron report.

In a statement, he said the Gardaí acknowledged that there were issues in the original investigation carried out some 30 years ago.

“In recent years, An Garda Síochana has taken whatever actions were available to right the situation and in this regard co-operated fully with the Barron and other enquiries and will continue to do so.”

In his report, Judge Barron said it was most probable the decision not to pursue the suspects was made by then Deputy Commissioner Laurence Wren, after consulting other senior gardaí and possibly senior Justice Department officials.

But Mr Wren, who headed the force from 1983 to 1987, said he rejected this finding.

“I don’t accept it at all, and I have told him (Judge Barron) that in my memo.”

He said he had no recollection of ever being told the names of the four suspects when he was in charge of the counter-terrorism division, C3.

“The responsibility for the investigation was the officers in the division concerned, it wasn’t our responsibility in C3,” he told RTE radio.

In his memo to Judge Barron, Mr Wren said he would be compelled to take corrective action to clear his name in the matter.

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