Family of man murdered in 1976 to sue over collusion

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The family of a forestry worker murdered in the Republic of Ireland almost 40 years ago is launching a legal action against authorities in Northern Ireland for alleged collusion.

They believe the civil proceedings against the PSNI, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State will force the disclosure of crucial evidence about the killing of Seamus Ludlow.

A parliamentary committee in Dublin recommended 10 years ago that a State inquiry be held into the murder, after an official judge-led report damned the original Garda investigation.

It was found the RUC told the Garda in 1979 that it believed four named loyalists were involved in Mr Ludlow’s killing, but the information was not pursued by the Garda at the time.

No one has ever been charged with the murder of unmarried Mr Ludlow, who was 47 and lived at Thistle Cross near Dundalk.

He was shot dead on May 2, 1976, as he went home from a night out.

The judge-led Barron report found he had no connections with any subversive organisation.

Lawyers for the Ludlow family said they will issue civil proceedings against the PSNI, the MoD and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland “in an action for damages including collusion and negligence”.

“This action will force the discovery of evidence which may point to the truth surrounding both the circumstances of the death of Seamus Ludlow and the consistent failure in the cross-border investigations subsequently,” a spokesman for Kevin Winters solicitors said.

They are also seeking meetings with the Irish government over its decision not to launch the Commission of Investigations into events surrounding the murder, as recommended by the Barron report.

“We find it disturbing that the Minister of Justice Frances Fitzgerald has gone against the recommendations of the most senior judge in the Irish State tasked with looking at these events, and this will be something we will be exploring further with the Irish government over the coming months,” the spokesman added.

“The civil action being launched in the North may, we hope, cause some traction in the South to deliver truth, justice and accountability for the family of Seamus Ludlow, 40 years after his death.”

After his killing, members of the Garda wrongly told the Ludlow family that he had been shot by the IRA as an informer, leading to deep divisions which lasted for two decades.

They also failed to give the family adequate notice about the inquest into his death and no member of the family was present.

The parliamentary committee which investigated the circumstances expressed grave concerns about the role collusion played in the murder.

It was undisputed that two of the suspects were members of the UDR, it found.