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A photograph of Seamus Ludlow (aged 47), Thistlecross, Mountpleasant, Dundalk, County Louth, who was abducted and murdered by UDR/Red Hand Commando after leaving a Dundalk public house around midnight 1/2 May 1976. His killers were never brought to justice, though they were identified by the RUC and the Gardai more than twenty years ago.
This page was last updated:20/03/01
The Murphy Inquiry.
Seamus Ludlow's family have searched for many year for the truth behind his unsolved murder. They were falsely told by Gardai in Dundalk that he was killed by the IRA because he was an informer, and that some members of the family were involved. These lies are proved by the fact that no local were ever arrested on either side of the border. Besides, a group of local republicans had personally approached family members to assure them personally that the IRA was not involved. Even so, every time Ludlow family members inquired with the Gardai in Dundalk, they were assured that the IRA was responsible and that there was nothing new on the file. The family was never told of the existence of four prime Loyalist suspects from as far back as 1979, if not before. The family was never told that the murder investigation had been suspended after only three weeks.
Today, the Ludlow family at last has information which had been withheld by the Gardai since the 1970s. This information came in the main from sources outside of the Gardai, who to this day continue to withhold information from the Ludlow family. This information came from several sources, but one in particular supplied certain details which were at once brought to the attention of the Garda Commissioner.
The Ludlow family was contacted by the investigative journalist Joe Tiernan, who had informed them that the Gardai had known all along that Seamus Ludlow had been murdered by Loyalists. He told them that it was a retired detective, the former Detective Sergeant Owen Corrigan, who had worked on the Ludlow case in the 1970s, who had told him this. On hearing this shocking truth, the Ludlow family began to redouble its efforts to seek answers to many questions. A press conference was held in Dublin, at which the family demanded a public inquiry.
The family made approaches to the then Garda Commissioner Mick Culligan, who ordered a reopening of the case on 16 May 1996. An internal Garda inquiry, led by Chief Superintendent Ted Murphy, Garda Drugs Squad, Dublin Castle, followed, during which relevant family members north and south were interviewed, as well as serving and retired Garda officers who were involved in the original stalled investigations. This in turn led to an RUC investigation and the arrest of four suspects in February 1998.
The RUC investigation was headed by D/Superintendent J. Molloy, of C1(2) Headquarters Serious Crime Squad, Knocknagoney, Belfast, and after a number of enquiries were completed an investigation file was submitted to the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for direction. The RUC investigators met with members of the Ludlow family on a number of occasions but they refused access to the investigation file. The family has requested a meeting with the Chief Constable but this request has not been granted.
Indeed, the request for a meeting with Mr. Flanagan, Chief Constable RUC, was met with an RUC request for the Ludlow family to send a list of written questions which would be asked at such a meeting. The family sent a list of questions to the RUC in a letter dated 7 March 1999, only to be informed in a reply of 14 April 1999:
"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.. . ".
The Ludlow family may well ask why the RUC asked for the written list of questions in the first instance when it was clearly intending that a meeting with Mr. Flanagan would be delayed for several months. The DPP's decision of 15 October 1999 not to prosecute any of the four arrested loyalist suspects ends any excuse that the RUC has for not meeting with the Ludlow family. To date, the Ludlow family has yet to meet the Chief Constable.
The family of course has serious issues to discuss with the RUC as well as the Garda. When were the RUC first made aware that Loyalists were responsible for Seamus Ludlow's murder? Why did the RUC not arrest these men as soon as they were identified? Why was no action taken to prevent further loss of life in the Six Counties at the hands of Seamus Ludlow's killers? What interest had the British Army in South Armagh in the murder of Seamus Ludlow? Why did the RUC not act in 1987 when Paul Hosking gave information to the RUC Special Branch? Did the RUC pass information to the Garda Special Branch in Dublin and Dundalk as early as 1976? What information was given to two Garda detectives from the murder squad in Belfast in 1979? Who was being protected in the killers' car on the night of Seamus Ludlow's murder? Was one of the suspects an agent for RUC Special Branch, MI5 or the British Army? Will those RUC officers who conspired to protect Seamus Ludlow's killers be held accountable for their actions?
During his meetings with family members, Chief Superintendent Ted Murphy confirmed journalist Mr. Joe Tiernan's claim that the Garda had known all along that Loyalists were responsible for the murder of Seamus Ludlow. He confirmed that information identifying the alleged killers had lain in the files for many years, even while fellow Garda officers were assuring the family that the IRA was involved. He confirmed that there were no other suspects and that in his view the murder was a spontaneous sectarian murder after a drunken escapade. He also confirmed that the suppression of evidence was not the responsibility of a few Garda officers in Dundalk, since members of the Dublin murder squad were involved also. This of course raises the question of exactly with whom and at what level in the Garda and the government lay the responsibility for the conspiracy.
It is now of course known that Chief Superintendent Ted Murphy's inquiry has established that, in 1979, his retired colleague, the former Garda Chief Superintendent John Courtney (see photograph above) and another detective travelled to Belfast where they took possession of an RUC file which identified at least three Loyalist suspects for the murder of Seamus Ludlow. A report including that information was written by the "head of the initial probe, a senior officer of garda HQ". As Tom Brady, security editor of the Irish Independent newspaper reported on 19 May 1999:
"That file is understood to have been sent to the offices of five chief superintendents and an assistant commissioner but no action was taken. There is likely to be conflicting evidence from retired members of the force as to why the investigation was not reopened at that stage."
It of course remains vital to the search for truth and justice that those garda officers and their retired colleagues, who are living on pension, and who have important information about the conduct of the Seamus Ludlow murder investigation are asked to account for their actions at a public inquiry.
In the Republic, the Garda's Murphy Inquiry was completed some time ago, and was passed to Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne. To date the family has not, as it was promised, been officially informed of its findings. Mr. Murphy had promised to keep the family informed of his progress, but nothing more has been heard from him. The family has asked for and been refused access to a copy of the Murphy Report, just as they have been refused access to all files now held by the Garda and the RUC.
The Ludlow family believes that the Garda investigation would have been curtailed without further inquiries had not Jimmy Sharkey come into possession of one of the actual UDR/Red Hand Commando killers' names. Jimmy, by good fortune, and random chance, was given the name of the UDR man who drove the Loyalists' car - a yellow two-door Datsun - on the night of his late uncle's murder. He was already aware that the Garda inquiry appeared to be winding down. The Garda were apparently satisfied that the Ludlow family had the wrong names - those of loyalists from Portadown - and it seemed that they were going to tell the family that their inquiry was ended due to lack of new information.
It was at this point that Jimmy Sharkey sprung his surprise. At a meeting with Chief Superintendent Ted Murphy, Jimmy produced a piece of paper with a name on it. When he showed it to the detective, Superintendent Murphy appeared surprised - and looking at Jimmy he called him a "cute hoor". He asked Jimmy had he any more surprises up his sleeve. Jimmy said he had several more, when in fact he had none, but his bluff worked.
The Garda detective, who appeared to be ready to call off the investigation, was now forced to proceed with his inquiries, which resulted in arrests in the North of Ireland and Satffordshire, England. The authorities were presented with a dilemma, dare they call off an investigation when they were not sure of how much the family really knew about Seamus Ludlow's Loyalist killers.
The Garda would have been very embarrassed if the Ludlow family took their information to the press or to a law court. Jimmy Sharkey spoke of this important development for the first time in public on a UTV Live Insight documentary "State Silence", on Ulster Television, which was broadcast on 25 October 1999. No Garda spokesman would speak to the UTV reporter Conor MacAuley. Nor did the Garda permit a spokesman to speak to TV3's Don Mullen for the independent channel's 20/20 investigation "In the Name of Justice", which was broadcast on 14 November 1999.
Newry and Mourne District Council, at a special meeting convened for the purpose, on 12 April 1999, was addressed by a family deputation, Kevin Ludlow, Michael Donegan and Brendan Larkin, on this issue. The Council voted to support the Ludlow family's call for public inquiries and for access to all files in the hands of the RUC and the Garda. The family of course believes that they should have the right to view all of these documents. In the absence of complete openness, the Ludlow family's suspicions of state secrecy will inevitably point to allegations of another cover-up.
The Ludlow family was informed of the Murphy Inquiry's completion in November 1998. However, strong hints in national press reports lead to a view that it has concluded, despite everything that the family has claimed, that there was nothing wrong with the original murder investigation of 1976. It has not, it is assumed, discovered the reason behind the suspension of the original murder investigation, or indeed who gave the orders for the suspension after only three weeks. There have been suggestions that this was done from a very high level in Garda Headquarters, possibly at the instigation of the then Garda Commissioner Ned Garvey himself. The fact that he is now deceased ensures that he can safely be scapegoated to protect others who are still living.
Photographed here is the late Ned Garvey, the former Garda Commissioner, who died in 1989. He was replaced suddenly in 1978, when Fianna Fail came into office. Ned Garvey has been identified as a possible British MI6 agent and as the hidden hand which lay behind the sudden suspension of the original Seamus Ludlow murder investigation.
Fred Holroyd, the former British Army officer and MI6 agent, claims to have had meetings with Ned Garvey at which he was handed photographs of hundreds of republicans. Fred Holroyd told Liz Walshe, of Magill magazine, April 1999, that Ned Garvey would:
"arrange a "freeze area" on the southern side of the border, effectively allowing the British forces to move unhindered. He would tell local officers to pull back from an area, so many grid squares, so the intelligence forces could move around with impunity and without knowing. Garvey viewed the IRA as a serious threat to the southern state. He felt what he was doing was absolutely right."
There are as yet no answers to a whole host of questions. Why was there no Garda checkpoint at the Lisdoo Arms public house on the night of Seamus Ludlow's death? Was the Dundalk area "frozen" to permit British agents to operate in the town on that night? When did the Garda first find proof that Loyalists were the culprits? Why did they persist in lying to the family by telling them that the IRA was involved? Why was the evidence suppressed for some 22 years? Why was the family excluded from the inquest? These are serious questions which demand serious answers.
It appears that the Murphy Inquiry has found fault with the investigation of 1979 when an RUC investigation file was taken to Dublin by two Garda detectives. According to Liz Walsh, in Magill magazine, April 1999, the Murphy inquiry into the 1976 investigation, which was suspended inexplicably:
"found no reason why it should not have proceeded, particularly with the information that was then available. Moreover, the new investigation found nothing to disprove allegations that information was suppressed, according to official sources who have seen Murphy's report."
The family still maintain, however, that there :was a lot wrong with the original investigation. It was the line taken by that inquiry, its brazen hostility to the Ludlow family, the cover-up of the inquest, the secrecy surrounding the ballistics and forensic reports, the failure to investigate other suspects who made themselves obvious, and the abandoning of the investigation, without ever consulting the Ludlow family, after only three weeks, which has effectively created the miscarriage of justice which has continued for 23 years. Failure of any inquiry to look into all of these aspects of the original investigation will inevitably lead to further claims of a cover-up, to perhaps protect politicians or senior civil servants who may have had their own good reason for ensuring that Seamus Ludlow's killers were never brought to justice.
The Ludlow family now awaits further developments. In the summer of 1999 the Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne was finalising another report on the investigation into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. The Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has now decided against prosecutions against all of the four loyalist suspects who were arrested in February 1998, so at this point in time the only hope for the emergence of truth, if not justice, is a proposed inquiry which has been announced by An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. The Ludlow family has been demanding a public inquiry, with full access for the family and its lawyers to witnesses and files, which will look at all aspects of the murder and the cover-up, but the Dublin authorities seem intent on pushing ahead with a private inquiry, modelled on that proposed by Victims Commissioner John Wilson.
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Revised: March 20, 2001 .