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This is a photograph of Seamus Ludlow, Thistlecross, Mountpleasant, Dundalk, County Louth, who was abducted and murdered by UDR/Red Hand Commando after leaving a Dundalk public house around midnight of 1/2 May 1976. His killers, though identified by the RUC and the Gardai soon afterwards, have never been brought to justice.
Unexplained British Army Interest.
Underhand tactics were not confined to the south of Ireland. Indeed, the late Kevin Donegan and his wife Kathleen, a sister of Seamus Ludlow's, who lived at Dromintee, just across the border in south Armagh, had an ominous confrontation with the British Army in the days after the murder of Seamus Ludlow which pointed to an unexplained interest in a crime which should have been none of their business. Kevin Donegan passed away on 27 January 1992, aged 72 years, without ever knowing the true nature of the cover-up which followed the murder of his brother-in-law Seamus Ludlow. He had been told cruel lies by members of the gardai, who tried to use him as a means for splitting the Ludlow family.
Mr. Donegan also had a strange, and dangerous, encounter with the British Army after Seamus Ludlow's murder which has never been explained to the Ludlow-Donegan family circle. A number of British soldiers called to the Donegan home a few days after the murder. Being met by Mr. Donegan they asked to speak to Mrs. Kathleen Donegan. They said that they were sent by the RUC to make enquiries about the recent murder of Seamus Ludlow. They then made a number of offensive statements to Mrs. Donegan about her dead brother, to the effect that he must have done something to deserve it because the IRA would not have killed him for nothing, and things like that.
The late Mr. Kevin Donegan, who is pictured here, told the British soldiers to go away. They were not going to answer any questions about a matter which was none of their business. They were not police and besides the crime was committed in another jurisdiction. After insisting that they required answers to certain questions and meeting refusal, the soldiers eventually departed.
This photograph of the late Kevin Donegan links to an account of his encounters with Gardai detectives after the murder of his brother-in-law, and their false claims that the killing was a "family affair".
Mr. Donegan then went to the local Forkhill RUC/British Army base to demand an explanation for the British Army's behavior from the RUC. However, there were no RUC officers there, and Mr. Donegan was put aboard a British military helicopter and flown to the Bessbrook Mill British Army Base, where he was questioned for a time by a British Army Intelligence officer. The officer was particularly interested in the line of inquiry being taken by the Gardai in Dundalk.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Donegan grew concerned when her husband did not return as expected within the hour. She rang Fork hill Barracks, and was told that her husband was not there, before contacting her local elected representative, Councillor Jim Murphy (now deceased), who was an elected member of the Newry and Mourne District Council. Jim Murphy made inquiries as to her husband's whereabouts. Eventually, Mr. Murphy discovered Mr. Donegan's whereabouts. He drove to Bessbrook and secured Mr. Donegan's release from British Army custody.
The British Army has never explained its interest in the murder of Seamus Ludlow. The Ludlow family is perhaps entitled to suspect that elements within the British Army must have known something about the terrible event that had transpired across the border on the night of the 1st and 2nd May 1976. Were they engaged in a clumsy cover-up of something of which the British Army had prior knowledge, perhaps a spying or assassination mission in the town of Dundalk?
The above British Army interest in the murder of Seamus Ludlow remained private within the Ludlow-Donegan family for many years until it was reported for the first time by the noted human rights activist, Fr Raymond Murray in his book The SAS in Ireland, which was published in 1989. No member of the Donegan family had communicated the events of that day in May 1976 to Fr Murray. Indeed no member of the Donegan family had any contact with him until some years later when he at once threw his full support into the Ludlow family's call for full truth and justice. It is assumed that Fr Murray must have heard of the late Mr. Donegan's experience of British Army interrogation from the late Jim Murphy.
In recent times Monsignor Murray (photographed here with Ludlow family member Jimmy Sharkey), has given the Ludlow family campaign for truth and justice very valuable support.
He kindly supplied a photocopy of the 1976 state pathologists report, which the family had never seen before, as well as press cuttings from the time of the murder of Seamus Ludlow. Photographs from these cuttings have been used in the production of this website. Monsignor Murray has been a great asset to the Ludlow family's campaign and he was an obvious first choice to chair the public meeting which the family organised on 18 February 1999. His address to the well attended meeting at Dundalk Town Hall has been highly praised by many who heard it. This local newspaper photograph was taken at the public meeting. The photograph links to more about valuable support for the Ludlow family's campaign for truth and justice. Click on Jimmy for another link to his Profile on the murder of Seamus Ludlow and the Ludlow family's fight for truth and justice.
Certainly the above mentioned events involving the late Kevin Donegan illustrate a number of things about British Army activities. It appears that they knew very soon after the murder was committed that Seamus Ludlow had a sister in Dromintee. Their alleged action in support of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) also appears bogus since from that day to this the RUC has never contacted Mrs. Kathleen Donegan or anyone in her family at Dromintee about the murder of Seamus Ludlow. It seems that the British Army had its own interest in the murder of Seamus Ludlow and it was the view of all in the Donegan family that the British Army was engaged in a clumsy manner to cover-up its own apparent involvement in the events of 1 May 1976 or to find out if its cover had been blown.
This photograph of the late Seamus Ludlow links to the text of the independent British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW) report that was published in February 1999.
Knowing their murdered relative to have been an entirely blameless and decent man who had no involvement in the unstable political situation in the Six Counties, the Ludlow family circle has continually proclaimed his innocence and demanded justice. The Ludlow family circle is now aware that the police on both sides of the Irish border had identified the real killers very soon after the crime was committed. They did nothing to bring the killers to justice while they continued to lie to the family about the lack of new evidence pointing to the involvement of others.
The Ludlow family circle's long-held suspicions about an official cover-up of the crime were finally confirmed after 22 years with the arrest by the Northern Ireland police, the RUC, of four Loyalist suspects from the Comber-Newtownards district of North County Down, in February 1998. It has emerged that the suspects include three members of the illegal Protestant murder gang Red Hand Commando, which is an offshoot of the equally murderous Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).
Further, it is known that at least two of these men were members of the British Crown Forces at that time. Two of these men were members of the British Army's locally recruited and overwhelmingly Protestant and Loyalist militia the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), and one of these held the rank of Captain in that discredited regiment which is now called the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR). All four Loyalist suspects were released without charge, with an RUC investigation file being prepared for the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Almost a year to the day after receiving the RUC file, the Northern Ireland DPP informed the Ludlow family that none of the four loyalist suspects were to face charges for any offence.
The Ludlow family is entitled to speculate that it was the British Army's knowledge of these mens' activities which brought British soldiers to the Donegan family home and led to the interrogation of the late Kevin Donegan just days after the murder of his brother-in-law Seamus Ludlow.
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Revised: March 20, 2001 .