Minister may face judicial review over Ludlow murder

Relatives of murder victim unhappy with response of Frances Fitzgerald

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. She is facing the threat of legal action if she does not order a full investigation into the killing of Seamus Ludlow almost 40 years ago

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. She is facing the threat of legal action if she does not order a full investigation into the killing of Seamus Ludlow almost 40 years ago

 

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald is facing the threat of legal action if she does not order a full investigation into the killing of Co Louth man Seamus Ludlow almost 40 years ago.

Belfast solicitor Kevin Winters said last night the families were unhappy with the response so far from Ms Fitzgerald and might have “no option” but to take a judicial review against the Minister.

“We have said in a pre-action letter that if there was no substantive response we would be proceeding to a judicial review. Unfortunately, at this stage that looks like the way it is heading because we don’t have a formal response satisfactory to ourselves,” he said.

Mr Ludlow (47), from Thistle Cross near Dundalk, who was found to have no connections with any paramilitary grouping, was shot dead on May 2nd, 1976, as he returned home from a night out.

It is suspected he was picked up by loyalists as he was making his way home from a pub in Dundalk. It is also alleged that there was British security force collusion in the killings.

Civil case

Theresa Villiers

In 2006 an Oireachtas committee recommended that an inquiry be held into the murder after Judge Henry Barron in his inquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and several other killings criticised how the Garda investigated Mr Ludlow’s murder.

It found that the RUC informed the Garda of four loyalists who it believed were involved in the murder but the Garda failed to act on this information.

Two of the suspects were members of the Ulster Defence Regiment.

Judicial review

Mr Winters’s practice recently wrote to Ms Fitzgerald calling on her to carry out a commission of inquiry into the murder as recommended by the late Judge Barron. While that letter has been acknowledged, Mr Winters said the Minister was given until this Friday to deliver a more formal reply.

In the absence of such a response, he planned to initiate a judicial review.

“An acknowledgment saying the case is being looked at isn’t enough. We wanted a commitment to implement the recommendations. That hasn’t happened so as it stands it seems like we have no alternative but to proceed to litigation. That is regrettable,” said Mr Winters.