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Photographed here is Seamus Ludlow (aged 47), Thistlecross, Mountpleasant, Dundalk, County Louth, who was abducted and murdered by UDR/Red Hand Commando on 2 May 1976.
This page features some recent developments in the Ludlow family's continuing campaign for truth and justice. Last updated: 13/01/03.
SOME RECENT DEVELOPMENTS.
Statements from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
On 13 October 1999 the Taoiseach's Private Secretary wrote to the Ludlow family, in reply to the family's unfavourable reaction to the recently released Irish Victims Commission's Report, and stated that Mr. Ahern was asking the Minister for Justice, Mr. O'Donoghue, to meet the family at an early date, to discuss the arrangements for an inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. This meeting took place on Thursday 8 December 1999, but it was an utter failure with regard to these aims, due to the evident hostility of the minister towards the family, its solicitor James McGuill, and to Jane Winter of British Irish Rights Watch, who kindly accompanied the family at the meeting.
Given the above, the Ludlow family no longer finds it strange that on Tuesday 2 November 1999, Mr. Ahern said the following, in answer to a written question from Caoimhghin ” CaolŠin TD, on the Irish Victims Commission's report, especially in the light of the failure of the northern DPP to bring charges against any of the four loyalist suspects :
"When the former Tainaiste, 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 of 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.".
Mr. Ahern appears to hold the view that he has met with the Ludlow family, when in fact he met briefly with one member, Jimmy Sharkey, who was part of a deputation from Relatives for Justice. The Ludlow family has not met with Mr. Ahern, although the family has requested a meeting with the Taoiseach to discuss with him the very interesting independent Report which has been produced by British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW). As of 29th April 2001, and Seamus Ludlow's 25th anniversary commemoration, still no meeting with Mr. Ahern has been granted, and none of the Ludlow family's requests for such a meeting have been acknowledged.
By this time, the Ludlow family is angry that they have been ignored, especially since Mr. Ahern can find time to meet with the father of Billy Wright, the Loyalist mass killer and drug dealer. Apart from their violent deaths, Seamus Ludlow and Billy Wright had nothing in common. Seamus Ludlow was an innocent victim of people like Wright. He was a law-abiding citizen of the Irish state and his family deserves, indeed demands, to be treated better than this!
Any thoughts that the Ludlow family might have entertained that Mr. Ahern's statement was an isolated gaffe were soon dispelled with a further answer given on 9 November 1999. The Dail Debates Official Report features questions placed by TDs Howlin, Sargent and Gregory calling for a review of the government's decision on a private inquiry in view of the fact that it had itself called for public inquiries in relation to Bloody Sunday and the murder of Belfast solicitor Mr. Pat Finucane. The report also features the Taoiseach's answer, which ends with the following bizarre statement:
"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."
This statement is incorrect in that it effectively denies the very existence of a British Irish Rights Watch report into The Death of Seamus Ludlow, which was compiled by the eminent human rights authority Jane Winter, Director of British Irish Rights Watch, London. Jane Winter, came to Ireland on 18 February 1999 to launch her recently completed report at a Ludlow family press conference at Buswells Hotel, Dublin, and also at a very well attended public meeting at Dundalk Town hall later that night.
The Taoiseach's statement so incensed members of the Ludlow family that Jimmy Sharkey, a nephew of the late Seamus Ludlow, wrote at once to Trevor Sargent TD, Brendan Howlin TD and to Tony Gregory TD, to put the record straight in relation to Mr. Ahern's misleading answer to their questions. Jimmy wrote:
"British Irish Rights Watch prepared a very detailed submission on the case of Seamus Ludlow in February 1999 and a copy of this Report was sent to the Irish Government, the Department of Justice, Department of Foreign Affairs and to Miss Liz O'Donnell, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs. I, Jimmy Sharkey, also presented a copy of the British Irish Rights Watch Report to An Taoiseach on the 5th March 1999 when I was invited to meet him as part of the Relatives for Justice Group.
"The family of the late Seamus Ludlow would like if you could challenge An Taoiseach on this matter as soon as possible. . .".
It is the Ludlow family's sincere opinion that the BIRW Report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow is just as valid as others produced by that esteemed human rights body and the family is surprised and puzzled that Mr. Ahern was so misinformed as to mislead his fellow deputies about a document which has been on the public record for some time. The Ludlow family further believes that the BIRW Report warrants the Taoiseach's closest attention and that it should assist him in deciding on the holding of a fullly independent public inquiry.
The Ludlow family finds Mr. Ahern's apparent dismissal of the BIRW report abhorrent. The family's view is not changed by Mr. Ahern's attempted qualification of his remarks in an answer to Mr. Tony Gregory TD, on 23 November 1999. Mr. Ahern writes:
"While the British-Irish Rights Watch Report 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."
Click on this photograph of Jane Winter speaking at the Ludlow family's press conference for the launch of the independent BIRW Report to link to the text of the Report.
This rubbishing of an independent report is unacceptable. It is also misleading. The BIRW report is of necessity brief, because the Irish Gardai, in collusion with the British RUC police, have over 23 years (now 25 years), ensured that as little information as possible has reached the public domain: about Seamus Ludlow's cruel murder; about the sudden suspension of the murder investigation after only three weeks; about the smearing of the victim's good name; about the exclusion of the Ludlow family from the inquest; and about the withholding of important evidence since at least 1979 which pointed to named loyalists as the guilty parties. That is the very essence of the cover-up which has forced the Ludlow family to raise the issue of a Public Inquiry in 1998 and 1999.
Hostile meeting with Mr. O'Donoghue, Irish Minister for Justice.
The attitude of elements within the Irish Government to the Ludlow family's demands for truth and justice - through a Public Inquiry - was made painfully clear during a hostile forty- minute meeting with the Minister of Justice, Mr. John O'Donoghue TD, on Wednesday 8 December 1999.
Family members Kevin Ludlow and his wife Agnes, Jimmy Sharkey and Brendan Larkin, accompanied by the family's solicitor James McGuill and Jane Winter, Director of British Irish Rights Watch, London, received an unsympathetic reception from a Minister who reacted angrily to being questioned about the case.
Jane Winter referred to this meeting in her next monthly report in BIRW's website:
"The Minister promised the family that he would help them to find out the truth, and said that he would consider further submissions on the question of whether a public inquiry should be instigated. I was, though, shocked at the Minster's failure to accord the family due respect and compassion."
On the plus side, the minister appears to have conceded the possibility that any report arising from the proposed inquiry should be made public. The Ludlow family hopes also that he will seriously consider their demand for the inquiry be held in public and not in private.
The Minister for Justice has met with members of the Ludlow family on two further occasions in 2001. He continues to be unsympathetic to the Ludlow family's stated demands for a public inquiry, instead insisting that they should accept his plan for a private judicial inquiry under Mr. Justice Henry Barron, leading to a public hearing of a Joint Oireachtas Committee. Incredibly, Mr. O'Donoghue now accuses the Ludlow family's refusal to accept his proposal as the reason for a lack of progress. For further information go to our Latest events page.
Northern Ireland DPP's Decision.
After some 23 years, the Ludlow family's long search for truth which seemed to be bearing fruit, with the arrests of four Loyalist suspects in February 1998, now sees hope being snatched away. On 15 October 1999, the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) informed the Ludlow family that there will be no prosecutions against the four Loyalist suspects, even though two of them had signed self-incriminating statements while in RUC custody. This disturbing, but not altogether surprising, development was first reported by the journalist Ed Moloney of the Sunday Tribune, dated 17 October 1999. His report can be accessed on the website of the Pat Finucane Centre.
The DPP in Northern Ireland has been contacted by the Pat Finucane Centre, requesting information which had not been given to the Ludlow family. What are the reasons for no prosecutions? Will the DPP meet with the Ludlow family to explain why this is so? Has the file on Seamus Ludlow's murder been closed? The Ludlow family was very interested in hearing the DPP's answers to these and other questions.
Typically, the DPP's long and meandering reply, which was practically a rewrite of a letter sent to BIRW, added nothing to the sparse details contained in the letter to the Ludlow family and it was made clear that no meeting with the Ludlow family was being contemplated. The DPP does not consider that he has any obligations towards openness and truth in his dealings with the Ludlow family. It is not his practice to give reasons for his decisions. His decision is taken and that is final.
Meeting with Louth County Council.
On a happier note, the Ludlow family ended 1999 with a successful meeting, on 22 December, with the members of Louth County Council, at its County Hall, Dundalk, where the family, represented by Jimmy Sharkey, his mother Mrs. Nan Sharkey, his aunt Mrs. Eileen Fox, and uncle Kevin Ludlow, and cousins Brendan Larkin and Brendan Ludlow, won overwhelming backing for its demand for a public inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. The meeting was the subject of detailed coverage on the local LMFM independent radio news broadcasts as well as a report in the local Dundalk Democrat of 25 December 1999.
According to the Dundalk Democrat, the Louth County councillors called for the murder of Seamus Ludlow to be brought to the attention of the General Council of County Councils and local TDs will be asked to lobby for a public inquiry. Councillors also attacked the Dublin government's decision recently to pursue a private inquiry, with the findings to be made public at a later stage.
A motion was put forward by Councillor Tommy Reilly and seconded by Councillor Miceal O'Donnell (sadly, now deceased), both fervent supporters of the Ludlow family's campaign for some time now. The Council was addressed by Jimmy Sharkey, on behalf of the Ludlow family. He attacked the Irish government for operating a double-standard when it came to public inquiries, mentioning that government's call for a public inquiry into Bloody Sunday and other cases in the Six Counties: "Why call for a public inquiry in these cases and a private one here in ours?", he added. "It is very important that we get the truth, we are only looking for the truth. For a long time we have been treated like dirt".
"We got no help from the Government or the gardai. Only the family worked very hard on this. After twenty-three years, it is not a lot to ask for". Jimmy also attacked the gardai, saying: "We were misled by them for twenty-three years.
"Kevin Ludlow, brother of Seamus, was assured he would be told who did the murder. There was so many lies told, it was probably due to the political climate at the time. Other people who had people killed down here were told lies. We must move on and not dwell on the past too much."
Jimmy spoke about the recent decision of the DPP in Belfast not to prosecute the four Loyalist suspects. He noted that on 29 September 1999 the Taoiseach in Dublin had said there would be a private inquiry into the Seamus Ludlow murder but the findings would not be published. The reason given was that the DPP in the North had at that time made no decision on whether to prosecute the four men alleged to have committed the murder. On 15 October the DPP made his decision not to prosecute.
Jimmy Sharkey continued: "For these years we have been treated very badly by the state. As far back as 1979 the gardai had a list of four suspects on their files and we have been told during the years of other people who were involved and even given their names". Jimmy also said that the Ludlow family felt that they could not get justice in Northern Ireland, as he claimed that the DPP in Belfast had a "bad track record".
Councillor Tommy Reilly called the proposed private inquiry "another white-wash": "It is sad that after these years the family are still looking for justice". Councillor Reilly also said that he could not see why extradition proceedings could not be served on the suspects involved.
"I can't think why some people would have taken this unfortunate man at the side of the road, just taken him and shot him. You wouldn't do this to a dog. For too long, it has been the policy of the British Government that we are being used for target practice for something else."
Councillor Miceal O'Donnell said that the "mentality" of the 1970s was still here today. He was not "garda bashing", but he wanted to "get rid of the rotten apples in the barrel". These men, he said, "now have pensions funded by the State. The gardai said they would represent the family and they told blatant lies. This has to be taken into account.
"A man's life was taken and the only sin was that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Ludlows must have all the information they need."
Councillor O'Donnell said that the late Seamus Ludlow was a neighbour of his and on the Saturday night before his murder he was sitting in Mr. O'Donnell's own kitchen, teaching his children how to play cards. "That was the simple kind of man that he was", said Councillor O'Donnell, who passed away in August 2000. Councillor O'Donnell was a great friend and supporter of the Ludlow family.
Councillor Arthur Morgan queried if the gardai involved were still dispensing "injustice", or if retired, would they have some sanctions taken away, such as their pensions?
Councillor Frank Godfrey said there were still many questions unanswered in the case of the Dundalk and Dublin bombings. "The people of County Louth will not be happy until this Ludlow murder is resolved", he said. Councillor Godfrey suggested sending a deputation to the Minister for Justice on behalf of the families and that they should consider taking the matter to the European Court.
As the year 2000 began, the Ludlow family was still waiting to hear of the Irish authorities' plans for a Ludlow inquiry. Little of any consequence had happened since the meeting of Louth County Council. The Ludlow family was left waiting for some crumb of evidence that the authorities were going to redress the great harm that was done through more than two decades of lies and smears. Would there be the full public inquiry as demanded by the Ludlow family, or would the judicial inquiry recently announced for the victims of the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings also deal with the murder of Seamus Ludlow? These questions remained unanswered at the beginning of March 2000.
This account of recent events ends here and it will continue in another site, where later developments will be recorded.
Return to Top of Page.
Return to Homepage.
Go to Chronology.
Go to Text of the BIRW Report.
Go to Louth County Council Supports the Ludlow Family
Go to Map of north Louth area.
Go to New Site.
Go to our Domain Name Site - www.seamusludlow.com/.
Go to our Dundalk Bombing campaign site.
Launch of Joe Tiernan's book The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings and the Murder Triangle
Go to the Pat Finucane Centre's website for Ed Moloney's report of the DPP's decision, 17-10-99.
Relatives for Justice - new site.
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Revised: January 13, 2003 .