31 March 2006

Garda/RUC ‘co-operation on cover-up’

Daily Ireland

Relatives of loyalist victim say independent inquiry’s conclusion adds weight to their belief that a policy of co-operation existed between forces that Garda chiefs tried to hide

by Ciarán Barnes

The Taoiseach has come under pressure to reveal whether gardaí had been ordered not to actively pursue the loyalist killers of Irish citizens in the 1970s.
Relatives of Séamus Ludlow, who was murdered by loyalists in 1976, and the families of those killed in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings have told Daily Ireland that such a policy existed.
They said yesterday that the findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into Mr Ludlow’s murder had added weight to their claims.
In its report published on Wednesday, the commission detailed cases of cross-border co-operation between the Garda Síochána and the RUC.
Judge Henry Barron, who published a report on the Ludlow murder last November, was not made aware of these cases.
The commission’s report says that, in February 1973 following a train robbery in Dundalk, three gardaí interviewed suspects at Springfield Road RUC station in west Belfast.
In March 1976, two months before the Ludlow killing, Garda detectives questioned a man believed to have been involved in a robbery at Belfast’s Musgrave Park Hospital.
The gardaí also let the RUC use facilities in the South to interview Irish citizens. In 1975, the RUC questioned the Belfast man Pat Livingstone in Dundalk Garda station about a killing in the North.
It is clear that, for at least three years prior to Mr Ludlow’s murder, gardaí had been co-operating regularly with the RUC.
The family of Mr Ludlow have described as “ridiculous” the claims that the killers of their relative were not pursued because gardaí feared that the IRA would attack them for co-operating with the RUC.
Mr Ludlow’s nephew Jimmy Sharkey said: “The findings of the commission in relation to co-operation between the Garda and RUC make a mockery of Judge Barron’s ruling.
“I firmly believe the Irish government had a policy in place at the time not to pursue loyalists or members of the British army involved in the murder and attempted murders of Southerners.
“The Irish government didn’t want to upset the British so they didn’t go after the men who murdered Séamus.
“But my uncle’s case wasn’t isolated. Why were the loyalists who blew up Castleblayney, Dundalk, Dublin and Monaghan not pursued? There are hundreds of grieving families who deserve answers.” Margaret Urwin — secretary of the Justice for the Forgotten group, which represents those bereaved or injured as a result of the 1970s Dublin and Monaghan bombings — said: “For the Garda to claim they didn’t co-operate with the RUC in pursuing loyalist killers because of fear of IRA attacks is nonsense. They were working hand in glove for years.”
Yesterday a senior Garda officer was appointed to re-examine the investigation into the Ludlow murder.

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