Welcome to the Ludlow family's website for the Seamus Ludlow Truth and Justice Campaign.
Last updated: 13/06/03
Chronology - Page 2. Chronology - Page 3 Chronology - Page 4
Seamus Ludlow (47), of Thistlecross, Mountpleasant, Dundalk, County Louth, was murdered in County Louth on 2 May 1976, by Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR)/Red Hand Commando killers operating in southern Ireland. His sectarian killers have long been identified but they have not been brought to justice.
Chronology of main events.
This chronology gives a detailed list of events since the murder of Seamus Ludlow. It also features many recent statements made by state authorities, human rights groups, and politicians.
2 May 1976 - Louthman Seamus Ludlow (47), a Catholic forestry worker was abducted and murdered by Red Hand Commando/UDR, from north County Down, after leaving the Lisdoo Arms pub in Dundalk. He was shot three times. His body was found the next day about a half mile from his home in County Louth.
It has been said that the murder weapon was a .38 Smith & Wesson, though this information remained closed to the Ludlow family until they met with the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, Mrs Nuala O'Loan in March 2002.
Gardai blamed the IRA and family members, but there were no arrests. The Ludlow family was never informed that the Gardai had soon identified Seamus Ludlow's loyalist killers; they were consistently told it was the IRA, and that there was no new information, even though it was known soon after that Loyalists from north Down were responsible.
5 May 1976 - Seamus Ludlow, a loyal member of the Fine Gael party, with no paramilitary connections, was buried at the Catholic Calvary Cemetery, Ravensdale, County Louth, but no coalition government ministers or TDs were present. The funeral was attended by a vast throng of people from both sides of the border and it was one of the largest ever seen in the north Louth district.
The Minister for Defence, Mr Paddy Donegan, TD for Louth and a Fine Gael party acquaintance of the late Seamus Ludlow, privately visited the Ludlow family home afterwards. This was the only expression of the state's sympathy for the death of a loyal party worker.
6 May 1976 - Kevin Donegan, a brother-in-law living at Dromintee in south Armagh, was taken away by British military helicopter, and questioned about Seamus Ludlow's murder by a British Army intelligence officer about the Garda line of inquiry. The Ludlow family still demands an explanation for this.
21 May 1976 - The Gardai abandoned the murder investigation, but the Ludlow family was never informed of this. It has not yet been revealed who ordered this suspension, or why.
In 2002, officers at the Police Ombudsman's office in Belfast revealed that they had what appeared to be a complete copy of the Gardai's investigation file from 1976 in the RUC's 1998 file. This included an assessment of the case by Garda Chief Superintendent Richard Fahy - the officer in charge of criminal investigations in Dundalk in 1976. The Gardai file - dated 21 May 1976 - did not include any ballistic or forensic reports and in it Supt. Fahy concluded that all options remained open, but effectively the investigation was at an end after just 19 days. It was suggested that the Gardai had received no real help from the RUC in the North.
2 June 1976 - A Protestant man, David Spratt, was murdered in Comber, north Down, by a Loyalist gang that included at least two of the suspects in the murder of Seamus Ludlow.
In the RUC's 1998 investigation file, according to officers at the Police Ombudsman's office in Belfast, there is a copy of an unsigned, undated, but apparently genuine note, from Garda Chief Superintendent John Courtney, detailing a meeting between the Gardai and the RUC in February 1979, at which the RUC finally passed on intelligence, dating from 1977, about the murder of Seamus Ludlow.
Courtney's note suggested, among other things, that two of the .38 Smith & Wesson bullets taken from Seamus Ludlow's body be sent north to the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratory to see if they matched the bullets from the murder of David Spratt. However, there are no indications in the RUC file that this course was ever followed up - though it is now known that two of the bullets taken from Seamus Ludlow are missing!
The Police Ombudsman's office had no idea if the gun used in the murder of Mr Spratt was still around. There was no evidence that the RUC had looked for it. Once again it is presumed that the Gardai did not ask them to - though, surely, no such request should be necessary!
19 August 1976 - Seamus Ludlow's inquest was conducted at Dundalk Courthouse, but the Ludlow family was excluded. Evidence of ballistics and forensics has never been made public. This information remains secret. The family still demands access to this information. The family obtained three inquest depositions only in 1998.
Only in March 2002 was the family told, by the Police Ombudsman in Belfast, that the bullets used were .38 Smith & Wesson - and that two of them are apparently missing.
In May 2002, the Ludlow family solicitor successfully petitioned the Irish Attorney General for a fresh inquest. In a letter dated 3 July 2002 Attorney General Rory Brady informed the solicitor that he has directed the Coroner for County Louth to hold a new inquest in - to date no date has been confirmed.
May 1977 - Two Loyalists, including one of those allegedly involved in Seamus Ludlow's murder, were prosecuted and convicted for the David Spratt murder. Another suspect for the Ludlow murder was acquitted.
September 1977 - The RUC came into possession of detailed intelligence about the murder of Seamus Ludlow. The Loyalist Red Hand Commando suspects were identified, along with the type of weapon and bullets used and the car involved, but this information was not passed on to the Gardai until 15 February 1979. There are no indications that the RUC took any action against the alleged murderers of Seamus Ludlow until their arrest in February 1998.
1978 - Writer Michael Cunningham investigated the murder of Seamus Ludlow for his book Monaghan County of Intrigue, and was given the runaround by Gardai and Coroners Office in Dundalk. He discovered that Gardai were told by members of the public, within days of the killing, of the presence of a British soldier in the Lisdoo Arms on the night of the murder; also the registration number of a car with three men parked outside the pub.
November 1978 (exact date unclear) - In a letter to the late Michael Cunningham, Garda Superintendent R. Fahy, Dundalk, replied to Mr. Cunningham's letter of 8 November in which the author asked various questions. Superintendent Fahy stated inaccurately that "a member of the Ludlow family was notified in advance of the date and time of the inquest."
15 February 1979 - Two Garda Murder Squad detectives collected an RUC murder file in Belfast, with the four Loyalist prime suspects named. The Ludlow family was never informed of this development. No further action was taken by Gardai. The RUC hid behind the excuse that the Gardai never asked for further assistance and so the killers of Seamus Ludlow remained free.
The four suspects were never arrested until February 1998. Members of the Ludlow family have recently approached one of the detectives involved, the retired Garda Chief Superintendent John Courtney, requesting an explanation for this inaction in 1979, but he refused to talk to them.
1987 - Loyalist Paul Hosking was questioned about Seamus Ludlow's murder by RUC Special Branch, and he was told to forget it, because it was political. He gave a full account of his role, as a witness of the murder, to the RUC at that time. No further action was taken until 1998.
1988 - The late Seamus Ludlow is smeared as an informer for British intelligence in the book "Ambush The War between the SAS and the IRA", by James Adams, Robin Morgan and Anthony Bambridge, published by Pan Books. No evidence or source for this lie is given, nor have the authors or their publisher responded to recent communications from the Ludlow family.
1990 - Further lies about Seamus Ludlow being an informer murdered by the IRA appear in "The SAS in action", by Peter MacDonald, published by Sidgwick and Jackson.
October 1995 - An investigative journalist Joe Tiernan informed the Ludlow family that the Gardai had known all along that Loyalists were responsible for Seamus Ludlow's murder. He had learned this from retired Detective Sergeant Owen Corrigan, who was involved in the original murder investigation. The killers were being protected from justice by the Gardai and the RUC. Owen Corrigan has refused to explain his actions to the Ludlow family.
2 May 1996 - 0n the 20th anniversary of Seamus Ludlow's murder, the Ludlow family held a press conference in Dublin, and called on Garda Commissioner Mick Culligan, to reopen the murder investigation. The case was reopened soon after.
16 May 1996 - The Ludlow family had the first of several meetings with the Gardai.
16 January 1997 - In a letter to a family solicitor, Garda D/Sergeant Gannon, of Dundalk Garda Station, who was Sergeant at the local Dromad Garda Station, at the border near Jonesborough, at the time of Seamus Ludlow's murder made some interesting comments: " . . . I attended a meeting in Mrs. Sharkey's home on May 16th. last. Certain information concerning the murder was brought to my notice. This was the first I knew of this information. Your client seemed of the opinion that I should have had previous knowledge of this matter.
"He accused me of misleading him, of not having read over the file and of not up-dating myself with what was in it. I want to make it clear that I had read the file many times and I saw nothing in it relating to the information supplied to me May 16th last.
"Your client told me that the information came from an ex-member of the Force. It would be of interest to find out when the information first became known and what this particular ex-member, who ever he is, done about it at the time.
"In relation to the inquest, I wish to state that a member attached to Dundalk Station, had, at the time, been given the task of notifying witnesses and family of the inquest, but it appears he overlooked your client. I only became aware of this on the date of the inquest and did everything I could to correct the situation.
"As to apologies, I feel that the better option would be for your client and I to shake hands when we meet and put our heads together again in a further effort to find the culprits for his brother's murder."
The above letter was written just a year before the emergence of new evidence of a Garda cover-up involving Gardai at Dundalk and confirmation there was indeed a file containing the names of the killers of Seamus Ludlow.
1998 - A revised edition of Peter MacDonald's "The SAS in Action" is published by Pan Books, and no response has been received by the Ludlow family following letters written to the author and his publisher.
17 February 1998 - Paul Hosking and three other loyalists - Red Hand Commandos, two of whom were in UDR at the time of the killing of Seamus Ludlow, were arrested by the RUC and questioned at Castlereagh Holding Centre. All four were released without charge, and a file was to be prepared for the DPP. Both the RUC and the Gardai assured the family that these were indeed the killers of Seamus Ludlow.
8 March 1998 - Ed Moloney published a major article in the Sunday Tribune newspaper, featuring an interview with Paul Hosking, who repeated in public the story which he told the RUC twice, in 1987 and 1998. He described in gruesome detail the abduction and murder of Seamus Ludlow by a Loyalist gang from north Down.
15 March 1998 - Ed Moloney followed up with a second article in the Sunday Tribune in which the Ludlow family put on record their treatment at the hands of the Gardai and the British Army, and the lies that they were told when in fact the authorities knew all along the true identity of Seamus Ludlow's loyalist killers. The family made public demands for public inquiries, north and south, to get to the bottom of the cover-ups and to expose those who for 22 years conspired against justice to protect Seamus Ludlow's killers. The family soon after intensified its campaign for truth and justice, enlisting the support of public representatives on both sides of the border and putting pressure on government ministers in Belfast and Dublin. The Ludlow family was soon supported by British Irish RIGHTS WATCH, the Pat Finucane Centre, and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. This report can be viewed on the website of the Pat Finucane Centre, which can be accessed from the Ludlow family's Links page.
In an editorial in the same edition of the Sunday Tribune (March 15), the editor called for an investigation:
Time For Ludlow Investigation.
Many strange things happened in the administration of justice during the '70s, particularly within the operations of the garda Siochana. It was a difficult time, with many fearing that the institutions of the State were under real threat from the re-emergence of the IRA, and with many atrocities being carried out in Northern Ireland and, occasionally, in the south. This led to abuses of power by small sections of the gardai, particularly the operation of the so-called "heavy gang". Cooperation between the security forces on both sides of the border was closer than many credited and efforts were made to gather intelligence from every possible source. One of the best ways of doing this was to use informers, but, it appears, informers may have been caught up in actions which were illegal but which they felt were necessary to establish their bona fides and, in the long run, save other lives.
But it is hardly acceptable that, in the so-called name of the greater good, innocent people died and that then their killers were allowed to escape for reasons which had nothing to do with the proper administration of justice. This, it is now suspected, is what happened in the case of Seamus Ludlow, the Louthman murdered by loyalist terrorists (who also benefitted from protection from the British authorities) in 1976. Even worse, it is claimed that the Irish authorities colluded in a cover-up and, not satisfied with that, implied erroneously that Ludlow was an informer and that he was shot by the IRA for this reason. For the sake of Seamus Ludlow's family, and to maintain confidence that one of the most important arms of the State has acted honourably and correctly, a full investigation is required into the circumstances not just of his murder but also the investigation which followed it.
16 April 1998 - In a letter to the Ludlow family's solicitor, R. White, Assistant Chief Constable Crime, RUC, Knocknagoney House, Belfast, wrote: "I can confirm that a number of people were recently arrested by the RUC and interviewed in connection with Mr. Ludlow's murder. All were released without charge. However, there are a number of enquiries still to be carried out, upon completion of which, a file will be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions, for direction.
"The officer in charge of the investigation is D/Superintendent J Molloy of C1 Headquarters Serious Crime Squad, Knocknagoney."
19 May 1998 - In a letter to the Ludlow family solicitor, Garda Superintendent M.P. Staunton, Dundalk, also confirmed that a number of people were arrested recently by the RUC. He continued: "They were interviewed by R.U.C. officers assisted by officers from the Garda National Bureau of Crime Investigation, Harcourt Square, Dublin. All persons were released without charge.
"An investigation file is being prepared for submission, for directions, to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Northern Ireland."
10 July 1998 - A letter to the RUC Chief Constable on this date has yet to be answered. An acknowledgement dated 17 July advised that the matter "is receiving attention and a reply will be issued as soon as possible."
13 August 1998 - Jane Winter, British Irish Rights Watch, London (BIRW), having just been approached by the Ludlow family, who requested support for their call for public inquiries, wrote off immediately to the heads of the RUC and Gardai investigation teams; Alasdair Frazer, the Northern Ireland DPP; Mr. John O'Donoghue, the Irish Minister For Justice; and to Dr. Mo Mowlam, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State. She was requesting disclosure of documents.
Jane Winter thanked the Ludlow family "for bringing this very sad and shocking case to our attention. Please accept and convey to the rest of your family my condolences on your sad loss and for the terrible burden you have been carrying for all these years."
Writing to Mr. O'Donoghue, the Irish Minister for Justice, Jane Winter wrote: "You will appreciate that this case raises very serious questions. The family are determined to uncover the whole truth about what happened to their relative, and they have our backing in that endeavour. They are entitled to nothing less. We hope that you will exercise your own wisdom and judgment in opening the books on this case at an early stage, so that proper closure can be put on it speedily, rather than the family having to spend years trying to establish the truth. . ."
11 September 1998 - In a letter to Jane Winter of British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW), London, D/Superintendent E. J. Molloy, RUC, confirmed that four persons were arrested and interviewed between 17 and 20 February 1998 "concerning their alleged involvement in the murder of Seamus Ludlow. All for persons were released after interview, without charge.
"A file is presently being prepared and will then be submitted to the DPP for his consideration and direction. It is anticipated that the file will be submitted prior to the end of September 1998. This file, as with all investigation files submitted to the DPP, remains confidential. An inquest has already been held in the Republic of Ireland in 1976 regarding the death of Seamus Ludlow and certain papers were made available to the Coroner at that stage by the investigating Officer in the Republic of Ireland."
17 September 1998 - In a letter to Jane Winter, BIRW, Adam Ingram JP MP Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, replying on behalf of Mo Mowlam MP, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, wrote: "It is a fundamental element of our criminal justice system that the investigatory and prosecuting authorities be entirely independent in their decision-taking on individual cases. This means, amongst other things, that disclosure of case files as you request, is not within the gift of a Minister of the Crown. nonetheless, I have made enquiries about the progress of this case in general terms and I have been advised that in May of this year, the Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in answer to a Parliamentary Question indicated that he had sought a report on the matter from the Garda Commissioner arising from media coverage at the time concerning the original investigation in 1976. The Minister indicated that the Commissioner had reported to him on the case outlining the actions taken by Gardai since dissatisfaction with aspects of the case was first expressed by Mr. Ludlow's family during the course of 1996.
"Investigations concerning the murder of Mr. Ludlow are still being made by the RUC. As the crime was committed in the Republic of Ireland, this is outside the jurisdiction of the RUC. However evidential material is now being compiled so that the facts as known can be submitted to the relevant authorities for their consideration and direction. The outcome of this consideration could impact on any further course of action taken by the Gardai."
22 September 1998 - In a letter to Jane Winter, BIRW, D/Chief Superintendent Ted Murphy, Garda National Drugs Unit, "C" Branch, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2, on direction from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, replied further to her correspondence concerning the murder of Seamus Ludlow: "I am to inform you that arising from the numerous allegations concerning the original investigation the Minister sought a report in this matter from the Garda authorities. The Garda authorities have informed the Minister that the RUC investigation into this matter is being finalised. It is expected that a file on the matter will be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland for consideration by him.
"The Garda investigation file, in this matter, remains open. The outcome of the consideration by the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland will determine future action by the Garda authorities in this investigation."
6 October 1998 - In a letter to the Ludlow family, Michael Farrell and Siobhán Ní Chlúachán, Co-Chairpersons, Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Dublin, responded to the family's request for their support: "We note what you have said about the new Garda investigation into the case and your concern that however thorough and well-conducted it is, it may eventually reach a point where it can go no further. For that reason an independent inquiry headed by a judge or an independent lawyer with the powers of a High Court judge would seem to be a more satisfactory solution.
"Such an inquiry would need to have power to compel the production of documents and to interview witnesses. It is unlikely that the authorities would concede a full public inquiry but what is probably most important is that an inquiry be independent and that the relatives have adequate legal representation and that their representatives have access to all the materials that the chairperson of the inquiry has. . .".
23 October 1998 - The RUC's investigation file on the murder of Seamus Ludlow was sent to the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for his direction as to possible charges. This fact was confirmed in a letter dated 26 October from W.R. Junkin, Senior Assistant Director, to Jane Winter, of BIRW.
November 1998 - ICCL News commented: "ICCL has been contacted by the family of Louth man Seamus Ludlow who was found murdered near the Dundalk-Newry road in May 1976. Mr. Ludlow had no connection with any paramilitary group but Gardai appear to have treated the case as an IRA murder of an informer, causing a lot of grief and pain to his family.
"To make things worse, the family were not contacted in time about the inquest and were unable to be present or to have questions asked for them.
"Recent press revelations have indicated that Mr. Ludlow was a random and completely innocent victim of members of a loyalist paramilitary group from Northern Ireland. It also appears that Gardai knew about this shortly after the murder but did not inform the dead man's family or lift the cloud of suspicion in the local area. Instead they seem to have closed their file on the case.
"There are suspicions that the whole episode was covered up because one member of the murder gang may have been an informer for the RUC in the North.
"Prompted by the press revelations the Gardai have recently begun an internal inquiry into the case and the findings seem to support the family's claims, but the family want an independent inquiry set up, with the power to get at the truth behind the cover-up.
"ICCL supports the call for an independent inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow and its subsequent handling by the Gardai. The Ludlow family are entitled to know the truth about this murder and its apparent cover-up and it is no good having the police investigating the police. The inquiry should be completely independent and headed by a judge or a senior lawyer. Maybe that would set a precedent for other inquiries into Garda conduct instead of the ineffectual Garda Complaints Board."
18 December 1998 - In a letter to the Ludlow family, the Private Secretary to the Taoiseach wrote: "The Taoiseach recognises the distress and suffering of the relatives and friends of Mr. Ludlow and he understands that Mr. Wilson (the Victims Commissioner) will address the issues arising in his Report. The Government will, of course, consider all of Mr. Wilson's recommendations very carefully when it receives his Report.
"The Taoiseach acknowledges that many victims of violence in this jurisdiction, those who suffered themselves and relatives of victims, have felt isolated and ignored. The Government will, in the light of Mr. Wilson's report, consider what further steps should be taken to address particular needs."
18 January 1999 - In a letter to Ronnie Flanagan, Chief Constable of the RUC, the Ludlow family requested a personal meeting with Mr. Flanagan. No meeting has ever been granted, nor has Mr. Flanagan sent a reply. Similar requests were made to the Secretary of State Mo Mowlam and to the Garda Commissioner in Dublin.
30 January 1999 - Members of the Ludlow family - Kevin Ludlow, Michael Donegan and Brendan Larkin - attended the State Violence State the Truth Conference, at Pilot's Row, Derry. The conference was part of the programme for the Bloody Sunday 27th Anniversary Weekend. It was organised by the Bloody Sunday Weekend Organising Committee, with the support of the Bloody Sunday Trust, Relatives for Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre. The conference focused on the lack of acknowledgement that the victims of state violence were receiving "in the current discussions concerning "victims/survivors"." An integral part of the day's proceedings was a photographic exhibition containing photographs and information about the deaths of many victims of state violence, including Seamus Ludlow.
The Ludlow family put on display the poster announcing their public meeting at Dundalk's Town hall on 18 February and Michael Donegan gave an address outlining the full circumstances of Seamus Ludlow's murder in 1976, the 22-year cover-up and smear campaign, and the most recent developments in the family's campaign for truth and justice. Speakers included Don Mullan, author and broadcaster; Paul O'Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre; and Monsignor Raymond Murray, Relatives for Justice.
1 February 1999 - British Labour Party M.P. Mr. Kevin McNamara tabled the following question in the House of Commons, Westminster: "To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in the RUC investigation into the murder of Seamus Ludlow in 1976; how many people have been questioned in the past 12 months; how many people have been charged; what representations she has received from the Irish Government; and what assessment the DPP has made of the feasibility of a trial within the Northern Ireland jurisdiction.
Secretary of State Mo Mowlam's deputy Mr. Adam Ingram (in a holding answer dated 19 January) responded: "Four persons were arrested and interviewed in February 1998; they were released without charge. A police investigation file in respect of the murder was submitted by the Chief Constable to the Director of Public Prosecutions in October 1998 remains under consideration. The Irish authorities are aware of the position."
18 February 1999 - The Ludlow family held a press conference at Buswells Hotel, Dublin, attended by several TDs and given coverage by BBC, TV3 and UTV - but ignored by RTE - and later that evening a well attended public meeting was held at Dundalk Townhall. Both events were attended by Jane Winter, Director of British Irish Rights Watch, who flew over from London especially to launch her independent Report, The Death of Seamus Ludlow. The family highlighted their demands that those responsible for Seamus Ludlow's murder should be brought to justice and for public inquiries on both sides of the border.
24 February 1999 - In a letter to the Ludlow family, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Cavan Monaghan, wrote of his attendance at the previous Thursday's press conference. He had written to the Minister for Justice registering his support for the family's demand "for a full independent public inquiry into the murder of your uncle, Mr. Seamus Ludlow in 1976. . .".
Mr. Ó Caoláin further told Jimmy Sharkey that he was "very impressed by your presentation at the press conference. It was a breath of fresh air to witness such a case being made without fudge or by-your-leave to anyone. The sincerity of the family's position was clearly matched only by their continuing grief and sense of injustice heaped on injustice. Molaim sibh. . .".
In a letter to the Minister for Justice Mr. Ó Caoláin said that the "information offered and the concern generated as a result, is such that I that I believe there can be no other course to address the questions raised but through the establishment by Government of a full independent inquiry.
"The terms of reference for such an inquiry must include not only the establishment of the truth concerning the brutal slaying of Mr. Ludlow but equally importantly, to establish the full facts behind the very alarming claims, clearly the strongly held view of the late Mr. Ludlow's family, that members of the Garda Siochána conspired to misdirect the family, to conceal facts established from them and that they knew the identity of the killer or killers but decided not to proceed with their investigations, let alone seek to secure convictions.
"The family of the late Seamus Ludlow believe all of the above. They believe too that there is ample evidence to substantiate their claims. The ICCL and British Irish Rights Watch have, following their own investigation of the details available, supported the family's demand for an independent public inquiry. . .
"This is, despite the passage of time, a case that warrants full investigation of all the information in Garda files and in the knowledge of the Department. The Ludlow family are intent on pressing their, in my view, justifiable demand for a full independent inquiry.
"I urge, Minister, that you now choose to establish such an investigative process. I would appreciate your response in due course and your observations on the points raised."
6 March 1999 - A member of the Ludlow family, while part of a delegation from Relatives for Justice, met An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Mr. Ahern was handed a copy of the British Irish Rights Watch report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow. A later request for a meeting for the Ludlow family with Mr. Ahern got no response.
7 March 1999 - In a letter to the RUC Chief Constable, the Ludlow family, responding to a letter dated 4 February, requesting that the family indicate the questions that they would ask the RUC Chief Constable, listed a number of questions that they would like to ask at a meeting that they had requested with Mr. Flanagan. The Chief Constable had asked the family to send the list of questions in advance of a meeting taking place.
The family wanted to know how long after the murder of Seamus Ludlow did the RUC have information on who the suspects were; and did the RUC pass this information on to the Garda Special Branch in Dublin and Dundalk in 1976? Exactly how much information on Seamus Ludlow's killers was passed by the RUC to two Garda detectives from the Dublin Murder Squad who had travelled to Belfast in early 1979? What was the British Army's interest in the case which caused them to call to the home of the late Kevin Donegan, a brother-in-law of Seamus Ludlow, at Dromintee, south Armagh, to ask questions and then to airlift him to Bessbrook for further questioning about the Gardai's line of inquiry? What information did the murder witness Paul Hosking give to the RUC Special Branch officer who interviewed him in 1987? Why was Paul Hosking told to "forget about it, it was political"? Why were the four suspects in Dundalk on the night of the murder, some 80 miles from their homes: were they acting alone or were they part of a much bigger operation in Dundalk that night? Why was there a cover-up on both sides of the border? Who was being protected in the car that night: was it the gunman? Was one of the suspects in the car that night an agent for British Intelligence, the RUC, Special Branch or even the Garda Special Branch? Will the RUC officers who held this information be held accountable for their actions?
10 March 1999 - In a letter to the Ludlow family, Adam Ingram, Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, stated "that every effort is being made to bring to justice those responsible for this appalling murder". Mr. Ingram added that it would be inappropriate for him to make any further comment until the DPP investigation into the case was completed.
13 April 1999 - In a letter to Mo Mowlam, Britain's Secretary of State in Belfast, Liz O'Donnell, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in Dublin, referred to her government's 11-page assessment of the British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW) report on the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane. Her words could not have been better argued by the Ludlow family in their justification of a public inquiry for the murder of Seamus Ludlow. Here was a Dublin Minister demanding of the British the very mechanism that her own Government was refusing to the Ludlow family and the victims of the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings of the 1970s.
The Minister's letter included: "As the assessment argues, the Finucane case and the associated allegations of collusion, fulfill the fundamental requirement of a public inquiry - i.e. that the matter under consideration is of urgent public interest. The accumulated evidence is sufficient to give reasonable cause to the public to believe that collusion may have taken place. Moreover, the allegations in question serve to undermine confidence in the rule of law and the concept of equality before the law. In my view, they can only be answered with confidence - one way or the other - through the mechanism of a public inquiry."
14 April 1999 - In reply to the above mentioned letter of 7 March to the RUC Chief Constable, Chief Superintendent G.W. Sillery, for the Chief Constable, thanked the family for indicating the questions that they would like to discuss with Mr. Flanagan. He continued: "You will appreciate I am sure that any meeting on your issues would be more appropriate after the Director of Public Prosecutions has given his decision on the investigation file currently with him.
"I will communicate further with you when the DPP's decision is at hand."
Given that the RUC had requested the list of questions in the first place, it was evidently a probing exercise since there was clearly no intention of allowing such a meeting to take place. Even though the DPP made his decision known on 15 October 1999, Chief Superintendent Sillery has still not made contact with the Ludlow family and the Chief Constable has made no response to the family's request for a meeting.
19 April 1999 - In a letter to the Ludlow family Mr. Ken Livingstone MP said that he gave the Ludlow family "my wholehearted backing."
In another letter, dated 19 April, to the Ludlow family's solicitor, Garda Chief Superintendent Ted Murphy, confirmed that his investigation was completed. He responded to the solicitor's request for access to his report with: "Because of the Confidential nature of the report I am unable to provide you with a copy thereof."
30 April 1999 - In a letter to An Garda Siochana, the family's solicitor responded to the refusal to give access to the Murphy Inquiry report: "It appears to defeat the purpose of reassuring the family that a proper investigation has been carried out into the original misconduct - if they are to be denied access to the outcome of that investigation. Perhaps you would be good enough to re-consider the matter and let us hear from you."
16 May 1999 - Several members of the Ludlow family, including Kevin Ludlow and his sister Nan Sharkey, and younger members of the family circle, were in Dublin on this day for a very special occasion. They had responded to a special invitation from the Justice for the Forgotten group to attend the 25th anniversary commemoration ceremonies for the 34 people who were murdered and the many more who were injured in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974. The crowd gathered first at the Talbot Street monument to the dead of that day and then walked on to the other bomb sites at Parnell Street and South Leinster Street. Brief talks were given at each of the three bomb sites before the gathering assembled at the gates of Leinster House. Not even one TD was in attendance. Jimmy Sharkey addressed the gathering on behalf of the Ludlow family and copies of the independent British Irish Rights Watch report and other documentation were handed out.
23 July 1999 - In a letter to the Ludlow family, the Assistant Private Secretary to the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, advised "that the Commissioner of the Garda Siochana is finalising a report on the matter, which will then be presented to the Minister for Justice. You will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for the Taoiseach to comment on specific issues relating to the matter in advance of the report becoming available and its consideration by the Minister."
27 July 1999 - In a letter to Seamus Mallon MP, Newry and Armagh, John O'Donoghue TD, Minister for Justice, wrote: "As you are aware, in response to representations made by Mr. Ludlow's family, the Garda Commissioner, in May 1996, arranged for senior officers in the Louth/Meath Division to meet with the Ludlow family with a view to establishing how best to proceed with this matter. As a consequence of their findings, the Commissioner directed that a senior officer from the National Bureau of criminal Investigation (NBCI) should further pursue the investigation. This he did, in conjunction with RUC officers, resulting in a number of people being arrested outside the State. An investigation file has been forwarded to the DPP, Northern Ireland and his decision is now awaited. The Garda Commissioner is now finalising a report on the investigation into the murder of Mr. Ludlow which will be given careful consideration when received."
5 August 1999 - The Irish Victims Commissioner Mr. John Wilson, releases his report A Place and a Name, in which he calls for a private inquiry into Seamus Ludlow's murder and the Garda cover-up, with the final report held secret until after any court proceedings in Belfast. No details of the inquiry's term of reference were given. The Ludlow family reiterated their demand for a full and public inquiry.
10 August 1999 - The Ludlow family responded to the Victims Commission's Report with a letter to Mr. John Wilson: "Where the family broadly welcomes your report and that your recommendation for an independent inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow, the family are extremely angry and disappointed that the inquiry is to be held in private. We, the family, suspect an air of suspicion that the inquiry is to be held in private and that this would not give the family a level playing field.
"As that the inquiry is to be held in private is the only recommendation , we would hope before you meet your Government, you would give serious consideration to the family's demand that the inquiry be held in public. . .".
8 September 1999 - In a letter to Bertie Ahern, Donncha O'Connell, of ICCL, reacted to the recent Victims Commission's report. While ICCL welcomed the report's recommendation of judicial inquiries into Seamus Ludlow's murder and those of the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, Mr. O'Connell added: "We are, however disappointed that the Commission came out against public inquiries in both cases and we fully support the call by the relatives of Seamus Ludlow for a public inquiry. We trust that the terms of reference for such an inquiry will be drawn sufficiently widely to deal with both the murder of Seamus Ludlow and the apparent cover-up which followed his murder. The Ludlow case has become somewhat lost in all of the media attention surrounding the Dublin-Monaghan bombings but we feel that the response of the Victims Commission to that case is no less worthy of urgent attention . . .".
29 September 1999 - Bertie Ahern formally announces the holding of private inquiries along the lines of those envisaged by Victims Commissioner John Wilson, into the Dublin-Monaghan and Dundalk bombings and the murder of Seamus Ludlow - but no precise details of terms of reference were given.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin had placed a question for oral answer on that date: "To ask the Taoiseach if he will establish a public inquiry into the murder of Mr. Seamus Ludlow."
In his answer, Mr. Ahern said: "In the case of Seamus Ludlow, Mr. Wilson also recommended that an independent, private enquiry be carried out by a former Supreme Court Judge but, in order not to compromise any criminal prosecution, this enquiry should not publish its Report. . .".
12 October 1999 - A member of the Ludlow family attended the launch of the Border Relatives Group at a press conference in Dublin. The group would represent several families along the border who had suffered loss caused by loyalist/British murder gangs.
13 October 1999 - In a letter to Kevin Ludlow, brother of the late Seamus Ludlow, the Taoiseach's Private Secretary, confirming the Government's intention "having considered all aspects of the matter, including the various representations made . . . to accept the recommendation of the Victims Commission in regard to an inquiry into the murder of Mr. Ludlow", he added: "The Taoiseach is asking the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. John O'Donoghue, TD to meet you at an early date, in order to discuss with you the arrangements to make for the inquiry."
The Ludlow family had being trying, without success, to secure a meeting with Mr. Ahern himself.
15 October 1999 - The Northern Ireland DPP informed the Ludlow family that no charges will be brought against any of the four loyalist suspects who had been arrested in February 1998. No explanation for this decision was given, beyond the following bland statement: "I now write to advise you that following careful consideration of the evidence contained in the police investigation file it has been concluded that there is no reasonable prospect of a conviction of any person reported therein in respect of the murder of your uncle."
16 October 1999 - Members of the Ludlow family attended the Relatives for Justice Relatives Conference on the theme of State Violence - State the Truth, at a Dungannon hotel, where they met with many other families who had lost loved ones at the hands of British and Loyalist killers.
Among the speakers were: Tony Doherty of the Bloody Sunday Trust; Eilish McCabe, a founder of Relatives for Justice; Don Mullan, the TV3 broadcaster and author of eyewitness Bloody Sunday, who was currently writing a book about the Dublin and Monaghan bombings; Jane Winter, Director of British Irish Rights Watch, London; Peter Madden, the Belfast Human Rights lawyer; Professor Brice Dickson, chairperson of the new Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; Monsignor Raymond Murray, chairperson of Relatives for Justice; and Imran Khan, solicitor for the family of the murdered black schoolboy Stephen Lawrence.
Don Mullan interviewed Kevin Ludlow and Michael Donegan on film for TV3's 20-20 programme. Professor Brice Dickson was handed documentation concerning Seamus Ludlow and he was asked to bring the case to the attention of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.
25 October 1999 - Ulster Television (UTV) broadcast "State Silence", an investigation for UTV Live Insight, allowing the Ludlow family to tell their story. Former Victims Commissioner John Wilson was also interviewed. He softened the tone of his Report by implying that he always intended that the family would have full access to the private inquiry.
2 November 1999 - An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, in an answer to Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, stated falsely that he had met with the Ludlow family. In fact he has only met with Jimmy Sharkey, a nephew of Seamus Ludlow, who was part of a Relatives for Justice delegation which met the Taoiseach on 6 March 1999. The Taoiseach has not responded to several requests made by the Ludlow family for a meeting with him.
Mr. Ó Caoláin's question was as follows: "I wish to address the Taoiseach on an issue which arose recently and is relevant to these questions. Will the Taoiseach raise with the British Prime Minister and Mr. Mandelson the disgraceful decision of the Director of Public prosecutions in the six Counties not to prosecute in the case of the four men implicated in the murder of Seamus Ludlow? In light of the failure to prosecute. will the Taoiseach revisit the decision to hold a private inquiry into the Ludlow case and will he acknowledge that, in line with the recommendations of the former Táiniste, Mr. Wilson, the report of such an inquiry must be published in the absence of prosecutions? The argument for a public inquiry is now, due to the decision of the Director of Public prosecutions, greatly strengthened."
Mr. Ahern said: "When the former Táiniste, Mr. Wilson, acting as commissioner issued his report he said he believed the review should be in private at that stage. It is probably a fair assessment that he also believed the Director of Public Prosecutions was proceeding with the case. I am not certain of that but that is how I would have interpreted his remarks at the time. I have seen the statement by the Director of Public Prosecutions and we are examining the matter. I will raise it with the British Government again. As the Deputy knows, I have met the family and the people who have campaigned about this case over the last 20 years. We will reassess what to do next."
2 November 1999 - Mr. Stuart Ross, of the Pat Finucane Centre, Derry, wrote to Mr. W. A. R. McCarey, at the Office of the DPP on the Ludlow family's behalf, asking answers to the following: What were the reasons why there would be no prosecutions? Would the DPP meet with the Ludlow family to explain why this is so? Would the DPP state whether or not the Seamus Ludlow case has been closed? These were questions that were very important to the Ludlow family.
Mr. Ross concluded: "As you are aware, this case is a matter of serious concern for many in the nationalist community. The decision not to prosecute anyone in relation to Mr. Ludlow's murder suggests that the DPP is less than willing to pursue cases when former members of the security forces are alleged to be involved."
5 November 1999 - In a reply to a letter from Jane Winter, BIRW, Mr. A.T.G. White, Senior Assistant Director, at the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Royal Courts of Justice, Belfast, commented on the DPP's recent decision to charge none of the four Loyalist suspects: "It was concluded that the advices of senior counsel should be obtained before taking a decision as to prosecution.
"A copy of the police investigation file was therefore briefed to senior counsel with instructions to advise.
"When the advices of senior counsel were received, all of the evidence and information reported in the police investigation file, together with senior counsel's advices and the recommendation of the lawyer to whom the file had been allocated, were very carefully considered at a senior level within the Department.
"In reaching decisions as to prosecution in any particular case, the Director applies the Test for Prosecutions, which is not statutory and which, in Northern Ireland, is that prosecutions can only be directed where there is sufficient evidence available to afford a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction and prosecution is required in the public interest. Where the evidence available is insufficient there can be no prosecution.
"After very careful consideration it was concluded that the evidence available was insufficient to afford a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction against any person.
"A direction for no prosecution issued to the Chief Constable on 15 October 1999.
"As you are aware, it has been the general practice of successive Directors of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland to refrain from giving reasons for decisions not to institute or continue with criminal proceedings other than in the most general terms. . .".
5 November 1999 - In a further letter to Mr. Stuart Ross at the Pat Finucane Centre, in Derry, the DPP added little to the above. Indeed, the letter, also from A.T.G. White, was almost an exact copy of the above, apart from the following specific reference to Mr. Ross' questions: "I note your request for Mr. McCarey to meet with the family to explain why there will be no prosecution. My present view is that Mr. McCarey would be unable to provide the family with any information over and above that contained in this letter."
This dismissive response to very simple and reasonable questions would convince any observer that the Northern Ireland DPP is responsible to nobody but himself or to whomever he accepts as his master. He does not have to explain or justify his decisions and his word is final.
8 November 1999 - Elaine Keogh, in The Irish Independent newspaper, reports that John Wilson, formerly the Irish Victims Commissioner, supports the extradition of the four loyalist suspects allegedly involved in the murder of Seamus Ludlow.
9 November 1999 - In a written answer to questions put by three TD: Mr. Howlin, Mr. Gregory, and Mr. Sargent, An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern appeared to deny the existence of the British Irish Rights Watch report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow. A member of the Ludlow family had personally handed a copy of the independent BIRW report to Mr. Ahern on 6 March 1999. The family wrote at once to the three TDs, informing them of the true facts and asking them to challenge Mr. Ahern on this issue.
The question (No. *103) placed by Mr. Trevor Sargent T.D. (Green Party) was: "To ask the Taoiseach his views on whether the Government decision to have a private inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombing and the Ludlow case is consistent with the demand for a public inquiry in the Bloody Sunday case and in the murder of solicitor, Mr. Pat Finucane; and the steps, if any, he will take to ensure a consistent policy in relation to having a public inquiry in each case."
Mr. Ahern had said: "The Irish Government called for a public inquiry into Bloody Sunday after the publication of a very detailed assessment of the new material in relation to Bloody Sunday and the Widgery Tribunal. In the Pat Finucane case, British Irish Rights Watch had prepared a very detailed submission on that case. In the cases of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and Seamus Ludlow, no such detailed assessments have been made."
The Ludlow family wrote at once to the three T.D.s referring them to the existence of the BIRW report and calling on them to challenge Mr. Ahern on his statement.
23 November 1999 - In a further answer to Mr. Tony Gregory TD, Mr. Ahern goes further to diminish the BIRW report. Mr. Gregory (Independent) had placed the following: "To ask the Taoiseach if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 94 of 9 November 1999, he will confirm that he received an assessment of a case (details supplied) from the British Irish Rights Watch."
Mr. Ahern replied: "I received a report prepared by British Irish Rights Watch on the Seamus Ludlow case at a meeting I had with the relatives for Justice Group in March.
"In my reply to P.Q. No. 94 on 9 November, I referred to the Irish Government's very detailed assessment of the material relating to Bloody Sunday and the very detailed submission prepared by British Irish Rights Watch into the murder of Pat Finucane.
While the Report of British-Irish Rights Watch on the Seamus Ludlow case is a very useful document in putting forward the case for further investigation, it is qualitatively different from the Bloody Sunday and Pat Finucane assessments which were very detailed, painstakingly researched and based on a considerable body of information, both in the public domain and provided by confidential sources. It was on the basis of these very detailed reports that the Irish Government called for Public Inquiries in these cases."
8 December 1999 - Members of the Ludlow family: Kevin Ludlow and his wife Agnes, Jimmy Sharkey and Brendan Larkin, accompanied by family solicitor James McGuill, Dundalk, and Jane Winter, Director, British Irish Rights Watch, London, have a meeting with Mr. John O'Donoghue, Irish Minister for Justice. The meeting, lasting only forty minutes, was a stormy affair, with the family viewing the Minister's attitude as very hostile.
Addressing a meeting of Louth County Council on 25 December, Jimmy Sharkey referred to this meeting:
Their meeting on 8th. December with the Minister for Justice was "Hostile". "The Minister did not want to do busuiness with us, said Mr. Sharkey, "he was very cold with us. This has affected (Uncle) Kevin badly, he has taken it worse than anyone else. . .".
19 December 1999 - There was an official announcement by An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern of an inquiry headed by, the soon to be retired, Chief Justice Liam Hamilton, who will look into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974 and the Dundalk bombing of 1975.
This announcement was welcomed by Maura McKeever, daughter of Jack Rooney, who, with Hugh Watters, was murdered in the no warning Loyalist car bombing of Kays Tavern public house on Crowe Street, Dundalk. The killers of Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters, like the killers of Seamus Ludlow and the perpetrators of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings have never been brought to justice.
It remained unclear whether Mr. Justice Hamilton will also investigate the Seamus Ludlow murder, or if, as members of the Ludlow family believe, the Ludlow case remains solely in the domain of the Minister for Justice. Mr. Justice Hamilton will submit a report to be examined by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality and Women's Rights.
The committee will have powers to send for papers and records and compel witnesses to attend, and relatives of the bombings' victims and survivors will be entitled to appear at public hearings of the committee, which would then make recommendations. It remains to be seen whether this process adequately meets the demands of the various families in theory and in practice. The Ludlow family have yet to be assured that they will have any role in this process.
22 December 1999 - Members of the Ludlow family, led by Jimmy Sharkey and Kevin Ludlow, addressed a meeting of Louth County Council and won the Council's support for a public inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow and the failure to bring his killers to justice. The family was greatly encouraged by the support for their demands that was demonstrated by the Council, and particularly by Councillors O'Donnell, Reilly, Godfrey and Morgan, whose remarks were reported in the Dundalk Democrat, 25 December 1999.
25 December 1999 - Interviewed in the Dundalk Democrat, Maura McKeever said that both she and the Watters family were pleased with Bertie Ahern's recent announcement of the private Hamilton Inquiry.
"We are happy at least that something is being done about it at last", she said. "Even though it is a private inquiry, our solicitor, James McGuill, will be there to see what is going on.
"Our thanks have to go to Dermot Ahern", said Maura, "who has helped with the issue of the Dundalk bombing. We are also pleased that the original Gardai investigation will be looked into too."
This is a particularly difficult time for both Maura's and the Watters families. Both of them have spent 24 Christmases without their fathers.
"I just want people to imagine that this happened to their father - that's why we are seeking justice for what happened", Maura said.
Further information about the Rooney and Watters families' search for justice can be found on their new campaign site.
January 1999 - The Ludlow family's website went online for the first time.
29 January 2000 - The Ludlow family was invited to attend the Bloody Sunday Weekend conference in Derry, that was organised by Relatives for Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre. Unfortunately, the family's representatives were unable to attend. The theme of this year's conference was Truth, Justice and Healing.
1 February 2000 - In an email to the Ludlow family, an official responsible for Ireland, at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) , Mary Robinson, at Geneva, Switzerland, confirmed that she had not received either of two letters sent to the Commissioner by a member of the Ludlow family.
It had long been suspected that these letters to Commissioner Robinson as well as one to the UN Secretary General and others to several human rights groups in the United States had been interfered with and had not reached their intended destinations. This may well explain why a number of the family's requests for support have received no response.
Further copies of the original correspondence and other information was despatched to the UN official at Geneva. The official kindly telephoned to confirm the letters' arrival but also to warn that because this murder took place so long ago, it was doubtful that the necessary UN procedures were in place to permit the UNHCHR to examine this case.
Nothing more was heard until the following message was sent to Ludlow campaign supporter Jim J. Kane, Scranton, Pennsylvania, in August 2000:
We acknowledge the receipt of your message. Unfortunately, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights cannot be of assistance to you in this case.
The Commission on Human Rights does not consider individual complaint and the existing machinery which could take it up would be barred to do so rationae temporis. The murder was committed 24 years ago and the procedure for dealing with individual alleged violations of human rights was not yet into existence.
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