was Seamus Ludlow?
can I find more information about Seamus
killed Seamus Ludlow, and why ?
was Seamus Ludlow's murder covered up?
leads the Ludlow family's campaign for a public
- Who supports the Ludlow family?
is the position now?
Seamus Ludlow, was a 47-year-old Catholic bachelor who
lived at Thistlecross, Mountpleasant, Dundalk, County Louth,
Ireland, just a short distance south of the border and the Six
Counties. Seamus, who was
born 4 December 1929, lived in his lifelong home with his elderly mother
and his married sister and her family. Seamus worked with his
brother-in-law Tommy Fox (now deceased) as a forestry worker in the
vicinity of his home.
Seamus Ludlow was murdered by Loyalists from
the Six Counties in May 1976. His killers have never been brought to
justice, though they were identified by the RUC and to the Garda
within months of this murder, and his family want to know why this is so.
Seamus met his death on the night of 1st.
and 2nd. May 1976. After spending the evening in various Dundalk
public houses, Seamus left the Lisdoo Arms, on the Ni road just
north of Dundalk, around 11.30 pm. He was last seen standing outside
Smith's Garage nearby, thumbing a lift for the three mile distance
to his home, as he had done on many occasions before. The memorial,
shown at the top of this page, marks the spot where Seamus Ludlow's
body was found on Sunday 2nd. May 1976.
The Sunday World (Southern edition), 9 May 1976:
in a lovers' lane...Who
killed Santa Claus Gardai
call us in to help
The Sunday World (Southern
edition), 9 May 1976 (Continued): The
spot where Santa Claus died
Irish Times, 5 November 2005:
quiet man known for his charity
Back to Top
The Ludlow family has produced two other web sites
for this campaign for justice, including The Seamus
Ludlow Truth and Justice Campaign. This first web site has detailed
accounts of Seamus Ludlow's family background, the last day of his
life, and the Ludlow family's unsavoury treatment by the Gardai in
the aftermath of the murder. There are press reports of Seamus
Ludlow's murder from the Sunday Press
and the Sunday World and a Special Report from the local Argus
newspaper in 1985. There are accounts of recent revelations in the
press about the arrest of four Loyalist suspects from County Down in
February 1998 and the Irish
Victims Commission's report of 1999. There
is also a copy of the text of an independent report produced by the
respected human rights body British
Irish RIGHTS WATCH (BIRW), London.
Our other website:
The Murder of Seamus
Ludlow in County Louth, May 1976. Towards a public inquiry?
also contains a wealth of information about this campaign, particulary
of more recent developments.
Further information about recent
developments can be found on the web site of the Pat Finucane Centre.
Many of the 1976 press reports of
this foul murder and the Ludlow family's long struggle for justice,
particularly from 1998, can be found by visiting our Press
The first part of this question is easier
to answer than the second part. Despite false claims spread by the
Gardai in southern Ireland and by the British Army in the Six
Counties, to the effect that Seamus Ludlow was an informer who had
been murdered by the IRA, forces of a different hue were
responsible. The Ludlow family emphatically maintain that Seamus
Ludlow was no informer. He was not killed by the IRA.
Recent revelations of an RUC and Gardai
cover-up dating from the 1970s, now largely confirmed with the
publication of the Barron Report, show how in fact it was known all
along that Seamus Ludlow was the victim of a Loyalist/British
Army murder gang. It is now known that the RUC in Belfast
handed a file on the killing, naming at least three of the suspected
killers, to the Gardai in 1979.
This RUC file
contained the names of at least three of the four suspects who were
arrested by the RUC nearly 20 years later, in February 1998. It has
also emerged, from statements made by one of the suspects, that he
was questioned about the murder by the RUC Special Branch in 1987,
and that he was told to say no more about Seamus Ludlow because it
Why Seamus Ludlow was killed remained a
mystery for many years. There were many theories, though the garda
seemed interested only in one!
Perhaps we should be asking what the four Loyalist
suspects, including two members of the British Army's Ulster Defence
Regiment (UDR), from far off Comber and Newtownards in north Down,
were doing in Dundalk on the night in question.
Were they engaged in a drinking spree as
it has been suggested, or were they on a mission of murder. Seamus
Ludlow was totally unknown to them. Could it be that he was just
another Catholic or a victim of mistaken identity, killed instead of
another intended victim, who may have been a republican. There have
been persistent rumours that Seamus bore a strong resemblance to one
man in particular who may have been on a death list.
These questions are now largely
answered with the recent revelations from the Barron
Report. The Barron Report was published in Dublin on 3 November
2005, more than thirteen months after it had been handed to the
government. The published Barron Report contains evidence of false
claims that Seamus Ludlow was murdered by the IRA because he was an
informer. It also reveals how gardai falsely assured Brendan
McGahan, a former Louth TD, that Seamus Ludlow was killed by the
IRA, and that he believed these claims.
The Barron Report, in naming the four
loyalist suspects, refutes all these vile lies about Seamus Ludlow.
Seamus Ludlow stands vindicated before the world as an innocent
victim of cruel sectarian killers who were sent to Dundalk to kill
another man! Seamus Ludlow, it is now revealed, was not a victim of mistaken identity! He
was unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is the question that has yet to be
answered, hopefully at a public inquiry. The Ludlow family
rightfully feel that those (whoever they are) who participated in
this shameful neglect of duty, and perverted justice, must be forced
to answer for their abuse and their collusion with loyalist death
squads. Gardai officers were paid and sworn to
uphold the law, solve or prevent crime, and to protect members of
the public from crime.
(The RUC also have serious questions to
answer regarding their role in protecting the killers of Seamus
Ludlow. Recently their role in colluding with loyalist killers has
been exposed to public scrutiny by the Barron/Oireachtas Reports on
the Dundalk bombing, an International Report on Collusion, and by
the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman's report on the activities of
one death squad in North Belfast.)
Certainly in the case of Seamus Ludlow's
murder, and in every other case where Loyalists committed murder in
the Irish state - in Dundalk, Castleblaney, Dublin, Monaghan,
Buncrana and Sallins - with perhaps fifty innocent victims - the
Gardai have manifestly failed in that duty on every occasion!
In the case of Seamus Ludlow it is clear
that there was a cover-up. Members of the Gardai have admitted this
to members of the Ludlow family. A secret file containing the names
of at least three suspects had been gathering dust for some twenty
years, even while Gardai in Dundalk were constantly assuring members
of the Ludlow family that there was no other file, and there were no
It has recently been reported that this
RUC file had been passed to several high-ranking Gardai officers -
including an Assistant Commissioner - yet no action was taken.
Several officers, and others in retirement and still living, should
have interesting answers to give when, or if, they are forced to
It has been suggested that the cover-up
was inspired by a need to protect one of the Loyalist killers who
may have been an agent working within the death squad. If true, this
agent, who may have been the actual killer, may well have reported
back to his RUC Special Branch, British Army or MI5 handlers
immediately. He may have given them a detailed report about the
killing of Seam Ludlow.
The Gardai's handling of Seamus Ludlow's
inquest on 19th August 1976 also leads to suspicions of a cover-up.
No members of the Ludlow family were present, simply because no one
within the family was given sufficient advance notice. Clearly,
Ludlow family members were not wanted there. The inquest reports in
the local press and the state pathologist's report say nothing about
the calibre of weapon used to kill Seamus Ludlow. This neglect fuels
suspicions that a British Army/UDR weapon was used. Such a weapon
would have identified the killers immediately. The Ludlow family
made a case to the government and succeeded in getting a fresh
inquest opened in this case. This two-day inquest commenced on 5
September 2005 in Dundalk, and for the first time the gardai finally
admmitted in public that they had the names of the prime suspects,
four loyalists, since 1979!.
The Ludlow family demands a public
inquiry to uncover the answers to all of the important questions
raised about the official cover-up of the murder of Seamus Ludlow.
These questions have been raised in previous communications between
the family and its legal representative and the authorities in
Dublin and Belfast. The absolute necessity for the holding of a
public inquiry has been argued vigorously.
All that was offered was a private
inquiry that fell far short of the Ludlow family's demands. The
Government refused to budge. Ministers were determined to push ahead
with a private inquiry under Mr Justice Hamilton
and, upon his death, Mr Justice Barron,
regardless of the Ludlow family's objections. This delaying tactics
has not produced the answers the Ludlow family demand. Indeed, the
Barron Report literally cries out for a properly resourced public
inquiry, with powers to subpoena witnesses and documents, to get the
answers Justice Barron was unable to uncover.
The Ludlow family's search for truth and justice is led by
Kevin Ludlow, the only surviving brother of Seamus Ludlow. Kevin
Ludlow has maintained close contacts with the Gardai ever since his
brother was murdered in May 1976. On several occasions he was
deliberately misled. He was even told that a member of his own
family was involved in his late brother's murder! He was even given
the name of a particular relative. With his nephew Jimmy Sharkey, he
has worked tirelessly to uncover the full truth behind his brother's
murder and the reasons for the Gardai's failure to solve the
The Ludlow family has established an
Appeal Fund (see below) to help with securing the necessary funds
for a campaign which will continue to drain available resources for
some time to come. Any donations, to the Appeal's account at the
Bank of Ireland, Dundalk, of whatever size, will be deeply
The Ludlow family continues to enjoy the
active support of respected human rights groups like British Irish Rights
Watch (BIRW), London, the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), Relatives
for Justice, and the Irish Council for Civil
Liberties. BIRW has produced an independent report
on Seamus Ludlow's death and its esteemed Director Jane Winter has
twice flown to Ireland to accompany members of the Ludlow family on
important occasions - the most recent being a meeting with the
Irish Minister for Justice.
The Pat Finucane
Centre, Derry, and
Relatives for Justice, Belfast, have been particularly
supportive, having invited the family to their recent conferences
for relatives of victims of state violence. PFC has featured the
Seamus Ludlow case on its own website, including much of the
recent output of journalist Ed Moloney for the Sunday Tribune
newspaper. The Pat Finucane Centre published this site on its
website and on its email newsletter. Through PFC's efforts, this
site has gained a considerable hit rate in a very short time.
Relatives for Justice kindly invited the Ludlow family to send a
representative to join their deputation for a meeting with Taoiseach
Mr. Bertie Ahern in Dublin.
Both Newry and Mourne District Council
County Council have supported the Ludlow family's demand for a
public inquiry into the death of Seamus Ludlow.
The Ludlow family is also supported by a
number of Irish TDs and senators and British MPs.
Since the launch of this second Ludlow
family website, it has been obvious that the Ludlow family's
campaign for truth and justice has many good friends at home and
abroad. This is obvious from a visit to the site's Guest Book, where
several messages have been posted by good friends in the United
States and Britain.
Members of the Irish
Organisations United in Pennsylvania and Massachussetts are now
actively campaigning on the Ludlow family's behalf. The Ludlow
family's campaign is also supported by members of Friends of Irish Freedom in
the United States. The campaign has also secured from members of the
Most of all, the Ludlow family is pleased
to report that their concerns and their demands for truth and
justice are widely supported in their local community on both sides
of the border.
What is the
The Ludlow family has been cooperating with a private inquiry
headed by its sole member Mr Justice
Henry Barron. Mr Justice Barron was appointed by Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern and given terms of
reference to investigate several cases involving Loyalist
attacks in the Republic and along the border. He has also compiled
reports on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974 and the
Dublin bombings of 1972 and 1973, as well as the Dundalk
bombing of December 1975. The Barron Report into the murder of
Seamus Ludlow was finally published on 3 November 2005..
Despite the Ludlow family's serious doubts as to
the merit of this private inquiry process, which falls far short of
our demand for a public inquiry, it was decided to cooperate with Mr
Justice Barron, since his private inquiry would go ahead anyway and
regardless of the Ludlow family's stated objections. The Ludlow
family decided to assist Justice Barron in every way possible, while
still reserving the right to call for a public inquiry. It was
important also that the Ludlow family should not later stand accused
for any failings in Mr Justice Barron's final report due
to a failure to cooperate.
After much delay, Mr Justice Barron completed his
private inquiry and submitted his report to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
and the Irish Government in October 2004. The published Barron report went before a Joint
Oireachtas Committee of elected TDs and Senators, meeting in
open session, in
January 2006. The
report was examined and a further report with recommendations was
produced by the Joint Oireachtas
The Oireachtas Report called for a further Garda
investigation, which is still ongoing. The Committee also called for
a further private inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. The new
private inquiry has yet to commence!
A fresh inquest
into the death of Seamus Ludlow opened at Dundalk
Courthouse on 5 September 2005. This inquest was first ordered by
the Irish attorney general Rory Brady in July 2002. The original
inquest of 19 August 1976 was heavily criticised by the Ludlow
family because it went ahead in the absence of any members of the
family. It was also criticised because there was no examination of
ballistic or forensic reports. The Ludlow family felt that they were
deliberately excluded by the Gardai to ensure that the inquest was
rushed through and to help conceal important matters that should
have come to light.
The fresh inquest was repeatedly delayed until
the autumn of 2005 by Garda reluctance to hand over certain files
requested by the coroner. This includes the internal Murphy file
from 1998. This file was compiled by the now retired Chief
Superintendent Ted Murphy after his investigation of the original
murder investigation of 1976. The Ludlow family have been refused
access to this important file that may help reveal the truth behind
the cover-up of the murder of Seamus Ludlow.
SEAMUS LUDLOW APPEAL FUND
Bank of Ireland