25 January 2006

Cover-up at ‘cabinet level’

Daily Ireland

Loyalist murder victim Séamus Ludlow’s nephew says senior officials hid the truth

Ciarán Barnes

Irish cabinet ministers may have known of a Garda plot to cover up the murder of a Co Louth man by loyalists 30 years ago, his nephew said last night.
Michael Donegan was speaking after appearing before an Oireachtas subcommittee sitting to consider the Barron report on the murder of Séamus Ludlow.
The 47-year-old was murdered on May 2, 1976, by a Red Hand Commando gang.
The Garda immediately blamed the murder on the IRA despite suspecting it to be the work of loyalists. In 1979, the RUC told gardaí that loyalists were responsible, giving them the names of the four men involved in the killing. However, this information was not pursued at the time and withheld from the Ludlow family until the mid-1990s.
When the Ludlows learned of the true nature of their relative’s death they pressurised the Irish government into commissioning Judge Henry Barron’s report into the murder.
Published in November it was highly critical of the Garda investigation, but stopped short of recommending a full public inquiry.
Appearing before the Oireachtas subcommittee yesterday, Michael Donegan repeated his calls for an inquiry into the murder. He also accused senior officials in the Garda and government of covering up details of the murder.
He said: “The cover up certainly extended to the top levels of the Garda and Department of Justice, and maybe even the Irish cabinet.
“The only way to get to the truth is through a public inquiry. The Oireachtas subcommittee doesn’t have the power to call witnesses or demand documents. Because of this, it is flawed.”
Mr Donegan said at this stage his family are not “particularly interested” in tracking down the loyalist gang who murdered his uncle.
“We are more interested in finding out why the state let us down, why they let our uncle Séamus down,” added Mr Donegan.
Earlier, family solicitor James McGuill said: “This has been an appalling three decades of experience of how an ordinary law-abiding family found themselves in a set of completely life-changing circumstances which was compounded by the state authorities they had to deal with.”
The Oireachtas subcommittee will deliver its findings on the Barron report on March 31.
In his investigation, Judge Barron said the Garda failed to pursue those responsible fearing that the IRA might attack police in the South for co-operating with the RUC in the North. He also stated that any such co-operation with the RUC might be perceived as acceding sovereignty to the British government.
However, these findings failed to impress the Ludlow family, who insist it was more convenient for the Garda to blame the killing on the IRA.

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