02 June 2006

Ludlow murder report to be finished in four weeks

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
02 June 2006

Garda detectives probing the murder of Seamus Ludlow are to complete a report by the end of June, the Belfast Telegraph has learned.

A specialist team under the command of Assistant Commissioner Martin Callaghan is reviewing the Dundalk forestry worker's 1976 murder by loyalists in an effort to bring the killers to justice.

The investigation was ordered by Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy, following a recommendation in an Irish parliamentary committee report into the killing.

Mr Ludlow (47) was picked up in Dundalk, then shot dead and dumped near his home outside the town. Nobody has ever faced trial for the murder, despite two suspects making admissions on the matter.

The case is particularly controversial because two UDR men were suspects and collusion with the security forces was mentioned during the sub-committee hearings. Mr Ludlow's nephew, Jimmy Sharkey, said he felt the killers would never be brought to justice.

"According to Assistant Commissioner Callaghan, the investigation has begun and the investigators are due to report back to him by the end of June," he said.

"We put the point to him that these boys will never be charged unless fresh evidence comes to light. They are coming back in six weeks to let us know whether it bears any fruit. If they did charge somebody they would walk in one door of the court and out the other. You just have to look at the release of [Pat Finucane killer] Ken Barrett to see that."

UDA man Barrett was released from prison early this week.

A hearing of a sub-committee of the justice committee in Dublin heard the killing was connected to members of the Red Hand Commando.

One of the suspects, Paul Hosking, lives in Newtownards. He has confirmed he was in the car with Mr Ludlow on the night he died, but denies killing him.

Senior gardai conducting the original investigation were unable to interview four suspects identified to them by RUC Special Branch in 1979.

Four men from north Down were interviewed by the RUC in 1997 but, for undisclosed reasons, the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to take a case.

Mr Sharkey said he believed Garda involved in the new probe had been in contact with the PSNI, but claimed there was little chance of securing convictions.

The commitment to launch a fresh investigation was first given by Commissioner Conroy during evidence which he gave to the sub-committee earlier this year.

The committee report was published in March and it fell short of recommending the full public inquiry demanded by relatives of Mr Ludlow.

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