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The Irish News, 15 October 2004:

Garda fails to provide key report for inquest

By Valerie Robinson

The coroner due to reopen the inquest into the murder of Seamus Ludlow is threatening to complain to the attorney general about Garda unwillingness to cooperate fully.

Louth County Coroner Ronan Maguire was instructed in July 2002 by the attorney general, Rory Brady, to reopen the inquest into the death of the forestry worker who was murdered by a loyalist gang in May 1976.

The coroner is seeking a copy of an internal Garda report into the original investigation as part of his preparation work for the inquest.

However, gardai this week told Mr Maguire that they were seeking legal advice before making a final decision on whether they would hand over the report by retired chief superintendent Ted Murphy.

The news came as a surprise to the coroner, who had been assured by the Garda last month that he would receive a copy of the document, which has never been made public.

Mr Maguire told the Irish News that he had contacted gardai on Wednesday and had been told that they "found it necessary to consult with their legal advisors" before a final decision would be made.

"I stressed that this cannot go on much longer. I pointed out that I was directed by the attorney general in July 2002 to reopen the inquest. It has been a long time," Mr Maguire said.

"I can go ahead without sight of the report but that would be unsatisfactory. I can't force the gardai to hand it over to me but on what I have at the moment I couldn't push the matter much further than the original inquest."

The coroner said that gardai assured him that they would contact him in a week or two.

Mr Maguire added that he would seek a meeting with senior gardai in Dublin if a satisfactory response was not received within a fortnight.

And he warned that he was prepared to take the issue to the attorney general's office in a bid to get access to the Murphy report.

"The AG is aware that I have been experiencing difficulties," he said.

He also revealed that gardai had confirmed that two of the three bullets taken from Mr Ludlow's body, after it was found dumped in a laneway, had gone missing.

Gardai have so far located just one bullet and are still trying to determine what happened to the other two that were sent to Northern Ireland for ballistic comparison.

"It is still an open murder case and for evidence to go missing without an explanation or receipt, if sent outside the jurisdiction, is not good," he said.

Mr Maguire told the Irish News last month that he planned to ask ex-chief supt Murphy to give evidence on the report he compiled in 1998.

Seamus Ludlow (47) was abducted and murdered after leaving a Dundalk pub in May 1976. His body was later recovered in an isolated laneway. He had been shot three times.

Gardai initially told Mr Ludlow's relatives that the bachelor had been targeted by the IRA because he was an informer.

However, the Murphy report, prepared at the instruction of the Garda commissioner, is believed to reveal that investigators knew from an early stage that the forestry worker had been killed by loyalist paramilitaries

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The Ludlow family supports the campaign by the Rooney and Watters families of Dundalk for an inquiry into the murderous Dundalk Bombing of 19 December 1975 which resulted in the sectarian murder of Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters. Further information can be accessed at their campaign website.



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