Judgment reserved in bid for inquiry into 1976 killing

No one ever charged in ‘callous sectarian murder’ of Co Louth man in Dundalk in 1976

A judge will rule later on a family’s bid to have the State set up commissions of inquiry into the murder of a Co Louth forestry worker more than 40 years ago.

The three-day hearing of the action arising from the May 1976 murder of Seamus Ludlow has concluded at Dublin’s High Court. Ms Justice Mary Faherty, who described the case as “particularly weighty”, reserved judgment to an unspecified date.

The proceedings by Thomas Fox, a nephew of Mr Ludlow, are aimed at establishing two commissions of inquiry into the murder, as recommended by a 2006 Oireachtas joint committee based on findings of retired High Court judge Henry Barron in a report into the murder of Mr Ludlow.

Mr Ludlow (47), who had no paramilitary connections, was shot after leaving a bar in Dundalk. His body was found on May 2nd, 1976 in a lane near his home.


State apology

The State say Mr Ludlow was the victim of a “callous sectarian murder” and has apologised to the family over the conduct of the Garda investigation. No one was ever charged in connection with the murder.

In arguments for the State on Thursday, Conor Power SC, referring to a range of Irish and European court decisions, said there was no obligation on the State to establish the commissions as sought, and that the family had failed to show how they might lead to a beneficial outcome.

Ronan Lavery QC, for the family, said the failure to establish the inquiries “flies in the face of reason” when an inquiry was being considered for the Olympics ticket-touting affair.

“The failure in conduct of gardaí after the killing, in smearing Seamus Ludlow’s name, must rank among one of the more shameful episodes that could be laid at the door of the state,” counsel said.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times