04 April 2006

Ludlow relatives' search for justice may go to Europe

Belfast Telegraph

Relatives seek public inquiry into brutal killing

By Michael McHugh
04 April 2006

The family of loyalist murder victim Seamus Ludlow may take their campaign for a public inquiry to the European courts, the Belfast Telegraph learned today.

The possible move follows the failure of a Dail committee which investigated the matter to recommend a public tribunal.

However, taking the matter to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg would be fraught with difficulty and could take some years.

Mr Ludlow (47), a Dundalk labourer, was picked up on his way home from a pub in the town in May 1976, allegedly by four north Down loyalists, and was shot dead close to his home.

A sub-committee of the Oireachtas' Justice Committee recommended an alternative inquiry to a public hearing - one not acceptable to relatives of Mr Ludlow.

"This is one area that we will be having a look at. It has been mentioned as one way in which we can challenge it," Mr Ludlow's nephew Jimmy Sharkey said.

"There may be other routes because it could take some time and some members of the family may be unhappy with that. It is something which we need to talk about with our lawyer but it is certainly one possibility."

The committee recommended a Commission of Investigation held behind closed doors, a mechanism not acceptable to relatives.

The Dublin/Monaghan bombings by loyalists in 1974 have been compared to the Ludlow case because they also involve the suspicion of collusion and there are concerns about how police investigated both cases.

Two of the suspected killers of Mr Ludlow were UDR members, as well as Red Hand Commando gunmen.

Campaigners for the Dublin/Monaghan families failed in their bid to have the matter considered in Strasbourg but Jane Winter from British/Irish Rights Watch said the family could have a strong case.

"I would be very surprised if the Ludlow families were not considering going to Europe at the minute," she said.

"One of the very sad things around this case is that many members of the family are very elderly now and they don't have years and years to spend going to Europe but that may be the only way to get justice.

"The Council of Ministers in Europe has had the UK in the dock since 2001 over not providing an effective inquiry and you would think you could argue something similar against the Republic."

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