The family of a forestry worker murdered 41 years ago have vowed to continue their fight for justice after they lost a legal appeal for the Government to establish two committees of inquiry into his killing.
Relatives of Seamus Ludlow, 47 - whose body was found in a ditch with bullet wounds near his home on the Cooley peninsula, Co Louth, on May 1 1976 - launched legal proceedings in a bid to force the Minister for Justice to open inquiries into the State’s handling of investigations into his death.
His family have long maintained Mr Ludlow was an innocent victim of a loyalist gang comprising a Red Hand Commando and two members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).
They believe gardai were complicit in spreading false rumours that Mr Ludlow was killed for being an IRA informant and that some family members had prior knowledge it was planned.
The family wanted a High Court declaration that a decision by the justice minister not to launch an inquiry was unlawful.
Their legal team argued that to not hold an inquiry was a breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights - the right to effective investigations.
However, the High Court in Dublin denied the motion on Friday.
High Court Judge, Justice Mary Faherty, said it was “not for the court to stand in the shoes of the decision maker”.
She said Article 2 is concerned “with ensuring there has been an effective investigation into a homicide or suspicious death, not the ascertaining of historical truths”.
Despite losing their High Court battle, the family insisted their fight “is far from over”.
Speaking outside court, Mr Ludlow’s nephew Michael Donaghan said: “I’m disheartened. It would appear we were comprehensively ruled out. But we are not finished. We keep coming back.
“We know we are in the right. We have had law, we haven’t had justice. We’ll keep going until we get that justice.”
The family’s solicitor, Gavin Booth of KRW Law, added: “This is not the end of this quest by the Ludlow family for justice. Seamus Ludlow was an innocent man.
“Many serious questions remain unanswered today. The family are understandably disappointed but we are looking at grounds for appeal. We do believe we have some.”
A parliamentary committee in Dublin recommended more than 10 years ago that two commissions of investigation be held into the murder and subsequent events, after an official judge-led report damned the original botched Garda probe.
The Royal Ulster Constabulary told the Garda in 1979 the names of four loyalists it suspected of being involved in Mr Ludlow’s killing but the information was not pursued by the Garda at the time.