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Quoting from the Barron Report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. Published 3 November 2005:
THE WORK OF THE COMMISSION
2. AN GARDA SIOCHANA
3. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, EQUALITY AND LAW REFORM
4. POLICE SERVICE OF NORTHERN IRELAND
5. NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE
Unlike the two earlier reports of this Inquiry, the issues to be investigated wererelatively clear-cut. The Inquiry had to deal with three separate periods of Garda investigation. The first period, in 1976, concerned the original investigation into the murder.
The second period was in 1979-80, and dealt with the receipt of informationconcerning four named suspects for the murder, and what inquiries were made thereafter.
The third period commenced in 1996 and ended in 1999 with the decision of theDirector of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland not to institute any proceedings against the suspects. This period dealt with the eventual arrest and questioning of the suspects, and also with Garda inquiries into the reasons why the information in 1979 was not followed up.
The Inquiry has sought to examine every piece of documentation relating to themurder and subsequent investigations. In that regard it has received full co-operation from An Garda Síochána, the Department of Justice and other Government Departments.
Meetings were held with members of the Ludlow-Sharkey family. The Inquiry soughtto interview every Garda officer who participated in the original and subsequent investigations, as well as those officers and Government officials who received, or ought to have received, information about the case at different stages during the past three decades. In relation to material held outside this jurisdiction, the Inquiry entered into correspondence with the Northern Ireland Office and the PSNI.
AN GARDA SIOCHANA:
Before dealing with the information received from An Garda Síochana, it may behelpful to summarise the internal structure of the police force at that time. The force was divided into seven branches of which the following were relevant to the investigation into Seamus Ludlow’s murder:
requests from countries other than the United Kingdom. It was mainly responsible for investigating serious crime in the Dublin area.
C3: Security & Intelligence - dealt with subversive or politically motivatedcrime. Any intelligence received by any Garda officer in that regard was filtered through C3. It also acted as the main channel of communication between the RUC and An Garda Síochána.
The Special Detective Unit (SDU), also known as Special Branch, alsocame under the control of C3. Based in Dublin, it was tasked with checking up on intelligence received by C3 concerning subversives active in the Republic. Although SDU was a subset of C3, its members were not permitted as a rule to deal directly with the police in Northern Ireland. This was done by others in C3.
It should be noted that the principal function of C3 was to gatherintelligence: the investigation of specific crimes was the purview of C1 and / or the Technical Bureau (see below).
C4: The Technical Bureau - handled forensic, ballistic, photographic andmapping duties in all major investigations. It was based in Dublin. It also incorporated a specialised Murder Investigation Unit (colloquially known as the Murder Squad) which operated with a wide investigative brief on a countrywide level.
Although given it’s own branch number, the Technical Bureauultimately came under the control of Crime Ordinary (C1). It was run by a Chief Superintendent, who reported to an Assistant Commissioner.
With regard to the work of this Inquiry, An Garda Síochána provided, as before, allrelevant files in their possession. These included the original investigation file, with its investigation report and accompanying statements; the Security and Intelligence (C3) file, and a limited number of documents from the Technical Bureau. The Inquiry was also furnished with a number of reports written by Chief Superintendent Ted Murphy during the period 1996-99, when he was conducting enquiries into the manner in which the original investigation was carried out, and into other issues raised by the Ludlow-Sharkey family.
Some Garda documents are either missing or were never brought into existence. Forexample, there are no Security and Intelligence (C3) files on three of the suspects about whom information was received from the RUC in 1979. 4 There was a file on the fourth suspect that had been opened in 1976 as a result of unrelated information received from the RUC, but unfortunately it is missing.
The Inquiry was given to understand that each of the sections of the Technical Bureau – including the Murder Investigation Unit - made and maintained their own files.However, searches of Garda archives found no files from the Murder Investigation Unit nor the Fingerprint section for the relevant period, and apparently incomplete files from the Ballistics section. Some exhibits are missing, including two of the bullets found at the murder scene, and photographic records of certain fingerprints taken at the scene.
As will be seen, An Garda Síochána also assisted the Inquiry with requests fordocumentation from the PSNI.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, EQUALITY AND LAW REFORM:
The Inquiry first made contact with the Department of Justice concerning Ludlow on30 May 2002. In response, the Department supplied the Inquiry with two files numbered S39/98 and S57/99. The first file begins with cuttings of newspaper articles from the Sunday Tribune dated 8 and 15 March 1998, in which the existence of the four suspects was revealed for the first time to the general public. The other file begins in November 1999 with a request from the Ludlow-Sharkey family for an inquiry into the murder. Neither of the two files related to the original 1976 investigation, nor to the 1979-80 period, when the information on the suspects first came to the attention of An Garda Síochána.
On 18 June 2002, the Inquiry wrote seeking confirmation that no contemporaneousfiles on the murder could be found. This request was repeated in a letter of 17 October. A reply from the Security & Northern Ireland Division of the Department dated 15 November 2002 contained the following:
"Contemporary file on the murder of Seamus Ludlow
You requested that this file be forwarded to you. However, after a thoroughsearch I have found no record of or reference to such a file or files having been opened."
On 22 January 2003 the Department wrote again, indicating that a file on the death ofSeamus Ludlow had been found in the 72/ series (a classification dealing with autopsies and crime statistics). The letter continued:
"A search was made of the register of that series and, as a result, the followingfiles have been identified:
(i) 72/17/142 ‘Mr Seamus (James) Ludlow, Culfore Cottages,
Culfore, Ravensdale, Dundalk, Co. Louth: Death of’ which contains a requestfor an autopsy on the victim and a copy of the Garda file on the case…"
The Inquiry wrote again on 28 November 2003, requesting a further search fororiginal files. This search was carried out by Department officials, but with negative results, as a letter of 26 February 2004 made clear:
"This search included the checking of both the electronic and paper-based fileregisters held by the Department’s Security and Northern Ireland Division, which would have dealt and continues to deal with this matter, as well as the Department’s general file register.
The search has revealed no evidence that any other files exist – or were everopened – on the murder of Seamus Ludlow, other than the three files already forwarded to you."
It is clear from the above that there was a Departmental file opened on the death ofSeamus Ludlow, which contained a copy of the Garda investigation file. But no additions were made to it when the Gardaí received information from the RUC regarding suspects in 1979: nor was a new file opened on the matter. Given that the publication of similar information in the Sunday Tribune articles of March 1998 led to the opening of a new file, it is hard to understand why the same was not done in 1979 - assuming that this information was indeed passed to the Department.
THE POLICE SERVICE OF NORTHERN IRELAND (PSNI):
As a reading of this report will make clear, there should be considerabledocumentation in the possession of the RUC concerning the murder of Seamus Ludlow.
The Inquiry wrote to Assistant Chief Constable Raymond White of the PSNI on 29April 2002, setting out the basic facts of the Ludlow case and seeking "any files, data or information you can provide relevant to the death of Seamus Ludlow and to the terms of reference enclosed." This letter was acknowledged by Asst Chief Constable White’s successor, Asst Chief Constable C.C.K. Albiston, on 15 May.
The Inquiry wrote again to the PSNI on 21 May 2002, seeking in particular, any filesconcerning the information given to An Garda Síochána in 1979 and any documents relating to the questioning of Seamus Ludlow’s brother-in-law Kevin Donegan by British Army officers in May 1976. Reminders were sent on 10 July, 31 July and 19 November 2002.
On 21 November 2002, Asst Chief Constable Albiston replied as follows:
"I am sure that you will appreciate that extensive enquiries have beennecessary to assemble the information which you seek.
I hope soon to be in a position to furnish a report to the Northern IrelandOffice who will then be in a position to forward such material as they deem appropriate."
Thereafter, the Inquiry directed its requests for information to the Northern IrelandOffice. On 9 June 2003, a report from the PSNI was annexed to a letter from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The report contained no new information concerning the suspects named to Gardaí in 1979. It also stated that no records had been found concerning the questioning of Kevin Donegan.
On 11 March 2004, the Inquiry was informed by the Director of Public Prosecutionsthat it might be possible for An Garda Síochána to obtain relevant material in the possession of the PSNI "through the machinery of judicial co-operation."5 The Inquiry subsequently wrote to the Garda Comissioner asking that this procedure be availed of. Reminders were issued on 14 July and 2 September.
On 30 September 2004, a copy of the RUC investigation file submitted to the DPP forNorthern Ireland in October 1998 was passed from the PSNI to the Inquiry via An Garda Síochána. The file contained a substantial amount of material relating to the interviewing of suspects in 1998; but no documentation from 1977, when information on the suspects was first received by the RUC Special Branch.
NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE:
Contact was made regarding the Ludlow case with the Secretary of State for NorthernIreland, the Right Hon. Dr John Reid MP in a letter dated 29 April 2002. On 21 May 2002, a further letter from the Inquiry drew attention to the questioning of Kevin Donegan by British Army officers.
Although receipt of these letters was acknowledged, no substantive replies wereforthcoming. On 19 November 2002, the Inquiry wrote again to the Northern Ireland office, setting out the letters to which replies had not been received.
The first substantive response to the Inquiry’s requests for information was containedin a letter from Dr Reid’s successor, the Right Hon Paul Murphy MP, dated 30 November 2002. He wrote:
"You asked for any material we were able to locate on the murder of SeamusLudlow. I understand that you have also contacted PSNI Crime Department on this and you will receive a separate response regarding any investigation papers they hold. However, as far as Government records are concerned, the MoD have found three references to this in 3 Brigade’s intelligence summaries for the period."
Quotations from the above documents then followed. The first, headed INTSUM No18/76 for the period 26 April to 3 May 1976 and dated 4 May 1976, speculated as topossible UVF involvement:
"The threat from Mid-Ulster UVF to border areas in the Republic continues.The mysterious death of Seamus Ludlow may be indicative of future UVF tactics although there are no reports to substantiate that he was killed by extreme Protestants… The corpse of the late Seamus Ludlow was found in a laneway about half a mile from his home… He had been shot in the hand once and 3 times in the side. He has no trace in this office. It is too early to say whether any terrorist organization was involved but it is worth noting that the Mid-Ulster UVF has openly talked about apprehending PIRA suspects in border areas; this occurred on BBC Panorama last year. They have the capability and cross-border activity is expected from them."
The second extract, from INTSUM No 19/76, dated 10 May 1976, simply noted astatement by Gardaí that the weapons carried by 8 SAS officers arrested near Omeath, Co. Louth on 6 May were in no way related to the weapons used to kill Seamus Ludlow.
The final extract, from INTSUM No 20/76, had no further information concerning thekilling, but expressed an opinion that the fact that Irish security forces were following up the Ludlow murder would make further cross-border activity less likely.
The Inquiry wrote again to the Northern Ireland Office on 17 February 2003, pointingout that its request for information on the questioning of Kevin Donegan had not been answered. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland responded on 9 June 2003 stating:
"I hope that this response will address all the issues you have raised. I wouldemphasize again that I do wish to co-operate with your investigation as fully as possible."
The letter continued:
"You are seeking information on Seamus Ludlow, specifically in relation tothe questioning of his brother-in-law by the Army in 1976. The Ministry of Defence has already provided what information they have on Ludlow, which I included in my letter of 30 November 2002… We do not have any further information to add to this."
The Inquiry queried this apparent lack of documentation in a further letter dated 28November 2003, but received the same response in reply.6 A final attempt to elicit information under this heading was made on 14 July, but had not been replied to at the date of completion of this report.
The Inquiry has contacted a large number of Garda officers, who would have beenstationed at Headquarters or at Dundalk in 1979 when the information concerning the four suspects was received. Very little information has been received under this heading. Most of those contacted had no memory of the crime itself, and those that did, had no recollection of the information received concerning suspects, although it is apparent from the Inquiry’s work that very few people would have known of that information.
4See chapter 3.
5 Letter from the DPP to the Inquiry, 11 March 2004.
6 Letter from Northern Ireland Office to the Inquiry, 6 July 2004.