02 February 2006

Gardai will ask PSNI to re-open death case

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
02 February 2006

The PSNI is to be asked to re-open the RUC investigation into four loyalists suspected of murdering a Co Louth forestry worker 30 years ago.

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy is to ask PSNI chief Sir Hugh Orde to order a re-examination of police evidence on four men accused of the murder of Seamus Ludlow (47) near his Dundalk home in May 1976.

Police interviewed the north Down-based suspects - linked with the UVF - during a privileged court hearing last year, and forwarded a file to Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions, who took special legal advice before deciding not to run a case.

Nobody has ever been charged with the murder despite two of the suspects making admissions over the killing in 1998 to the RUC. The other individuals deny all knowledge of the incident.

On asking the PSNI to review the case, Commissioner Conroy told a meeting of the Dail's Justice Committee in Leinster House: "I'll have no difficulty doing that if that will help the inquiry. They may not have the power. They may have exhausted their powers in assisting us in the investigation and unfortunately they didn't get the evidence (in 1998)."

Mr Ludlow was picked up in Dundalk town, shot dead then dumped in a laneway. Commissioner Conroy's commitment followed a grilling on the lack of success of the Garda investigation.

He said he had "absolutely no difficulty" in apologising to relatives of Mr Ludlow, who have been pressing for a public inquiry into concerns over the police investigation.

Mr Conroy said he was apologising for the failure of the police inquiry as well as the mishandling of the original inquest in 1976.

"I regret very much that we did not bring this investigation to a satisfactory conclusion," he said.

Areas of concern include the fact that Garda didn't interview the four suspects despite a tip-off from RUC Special Branch in January 1976 as well as the loss of a report on the investigation from Dundalk Garda station.

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