04 May 2006

Families go online in a quest for the truth about collusion

Irelandclick

Murdered Dundalk man’s case is boosted by evidence of local republican. Relatives slam Taoiseach’s failure to meet family.

by Roisin McManus

www.anfhirinne.org

An Fhirinne, the campaign group set up to expose collusion between the British state and loyalist death squads, this week launched their new website in West Belfast.

The website, which includes biographies of those murdered and updates on each case, is the latest step by the campaign group who have travelled to the US, Brussels and London in a bid to highlight the collusion issue.

Families of those murdered through collusion gathered at the Roddy McCorley Social Club for the launch and a moving exhibition. A particular welcome was extended to the family of Seamus Ludlow, the Dundalk man abducted and killed by loyalists in April 1976. His murder was blamed on the IRA despite the existence of hard intelligence available to both the RUC and Gardaí identifying the loyalist killers. Mr Ludlow’s 30th anniversary occurred on Tuesday.

The Ludlow family’s campaign for justice has been boosted by a local connection. Lower Falls republican Pat Livingstone has assisted the Ludlow family by providing evidence directly contradicting Garda claims that it did not act on the intelligence because of issues of protocol and precedent which they claimed prevented them travelling North to interview the killers. In fact, reciprocal arrangements did exist as Mr Livingstone was interviewed by two RUC Special Branch officers in Dundalk Garda station in 1975 and was convicted in 1976 on the basis of a disputed statement he was said to have made there. During his trial, Gardaí were in the court in Belfast, intending to give evidence if needed.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News, Jimmy Sharkey, the nephew of Seamus Ludlow, said, “We are here because 30 years ago my uncle was killed and for a large part of that 30 years, part of our family were told by the Southern authorities that the IRA had killed him that he was an informer and actually that members of our own family were implicated in his killing. That belief lingered on for almost 20 years. We have found out since that within a very short period of time the Southern authorities knew full well who killed him and that members of the British army were involved in the killing but they chose to cover that up completely,” he added.

Jimmy welcomed the setting up of the website and said he hoped that it would raise awareness.

“I feel that Seamus' life was absolutely worthless as far as the Southern authorities were concerned and we see the website as a major step forward.
“From our own perspective we need a full public inquiry which the Southern authorities have consistently refused to give us. It is not lost on our family that Bertie Ahern has refused to meet the family and while we have received some sort of informal apologies they have never acknowledged their part in this whole collusion. They have never acknowledged that they rated Seamus Ludlow as being irrelevant. They put their own political reasons before an investigation into his death,” he added.

Speaking at Tuesday's launch, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that collusion and state killings were a matter of administrative practice in the North and were authorised at the highest political level.

Mr Adams congratulated all of those involved in the launch of the An Fhirinne website and paid tribute to the families who have lost loved ones as a result of collusion and state murder.

“While there have been many deaths arising out of the conflict An Fhirinne seeks to draw attention to those carried out by state forces as well as those involving collusion between state forces and unionist paramilitaries,” said the Sinn Féin President. “Together these claimed hundreds of lives over 30 years of conflict. For the families of state violence and collusion there has been the trauma of dealing with the loss of a loved one, but their grief has been compounded by the lies and deceit of the state in covering up the truth of these events,” he added.

Mr Adams said that many of these families are only now beginning to learn of the role collusion played in the murder of a relative.

“An Fhirinne has been campaigning for four years, demanding that the British government acknowledge the truth of the role its state agencies played in the murder of citizens and that it dismantle the apparatus and structures of collusion,” he continued.

“Its objective is to secure an international, independent, public judicial inquiry into collusion and state killings. This is an enormous challenge.”

www.anfhirinne.org

Journalist:: Roisin McManus

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