24 January 2006

Dail murder inquiry criticises army

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh in Dublin
24 January 2006

British Army soldiers visited the family of loyalist murder victim Seamus Ludlow to tell them that he was killed as an informer by the IRA, an Irish parliamentary inquiry into the episode heard today.

Mr Ludlow's brother-in- law Kevin Donegan was visited at home near Forkhill the day after Mr Ludlow's 1976 funeral by uniformed soldiers and told that the victim had been shot by the IRA and asked him for more information.

The murder of Mr Ludlow, which has since been blamed on members of the Red Hand Commando group based in north Down, was carried out in May 1976 in Dundalk when the forestry worker was picked up in the centre of the town and shot close to his Thistle Cross home.

The chairman of the Joint Committee for Justice and Human Rights, Sean Ardhagh, sitting at Leinster House in Dublin said he was "disappointed at the lack of co-operation from the Northern Irish authorities when asked for information about the incident".

The Committee is investigating the handling of the murder inquiry by Garda detectives. Mr Donegan's son Michael said security forces north and south of the border must have shared information about the crime.

"I believe the people in the Army in Bessbrook or Forkhill had knowledge of what was going on in Dundalk that night and they wanted to know what we knew and more importantly what the Garda knew," he said. "They went to establish the fact that he was shot by the IRA."

Michael Donegan agreed that the visit had been a "trawling expedition". He said his father had later visited Forkhill Barracks to demand an explanation and had been taken by helicopter to Bessbrook and interrogated. He added that he suspected that the SAS was involved.

Committee chairman Mr Ardhagh criticised the Northern authorities for their lack of co-operation with the Committee in investigating the allegations.

"I am very disappointed that we still have not received from the northern authorities any information in relation to Mr Donegan's interview," he said.

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