4 November 1999 Edition

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Taoiseach to ``reassess'' Ludlow case

The Dublin government is to reassess its approach to the case of murdered Louth man Seamus Ludlow in light of the failure of the Six-County Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute four men arrested last year in connection with the killing. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern signalled the review of his government's approach when he answered a question from Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín O Caoláin in the Dáil on Tuesday, 2 November.

Seamus Ludlow was abducted and murdered by a group of loyalists, including two serving member of the British Army's Ulster Defence Regiment, in May 1976. The killing took place in County Louth. Up to last year, no-one was ever arrested in the case, even though an eyewitness had made a detailed statement to the RUC and the media. Four men were detained in 1998, but it was announced last month that there would be no prosecutions. The family of Seamus Ludlow maintain that they were kept in the dark for over 20 years by RUC and gardai and that gardai told them repeatedly that the assassins were the IRA, a claim they knew to be untrue.

In the Report of the Victims Commission, established under the Good Friday Agreement, it was recommended that the Dublin government establish a private inquiry into the Ludlow case with no published report ``to avoid compromising any criminal prosecutions''. In the Dáil on Tuesday, Caoimhghín O Caoláin urged the Taoiseach to establish a public inquiry. He said:

``Will the Taoiseach raise with the British Prime Minister and Mr. Mandelson the disgraceful decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Six Counties not to prosecute in the case of the four men implicated in the murder of Séamus Ludlow? In light of the failure to prosecute, will the Taoiseach revisit the decision to hold a private inquiry into the Ludlow case and will he acknowledge that, in line with the recommendations of the former Tánaiste, Mr. Wilson, the report of such an inquiry must be published in the absence of prosecutions? The argument for a public inquiry is now, due to the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions, greatly strengthened.''

Replying to O Caoláin, Bertie Ahern said:

``When the former Tánaiste, Mr. Wilson, acting as commissioner, issued his report he said he believed the review should be in private at that stage. It is probably a fair assessment that he also believed the Director of Public Prosecutions was proceeding with the case. I am not certain of that but that is how I would have interpreted his remarks at the time. I have seen the statement by the Director of Public Prosecutions and we are examining the matter. I will raise it with the British Government again. As the Deputy knows, I have met the family and the people who have campaigned about this case over the last 20 years. We will reassess what to do next.''

Andrews' South Armagh reply ``totally unacceptable''

Caoimhghín O Caoláin has described as ``totally unacceptable'' the reply of Minister for Foreign Affairs David Andrews to a question from the Sinn Féin TD asking when the minister will fulfill his commmitment of over a year ago to visit South Armagh at the invitation of the South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee (SAFRC). Minister Andrews, in his Dáil reply on Tuesday, said that he had expressed his willingness to visit when he met the SAFRC but that the Taoiseach had met with SAFRC representatives during a visit to Newry last February. Deputy O Caoláin said:

``This is a totally unacceptable reply. The minister is ducking out of a commitment he made to the people of South Armagh by citing the Taoiseach's brief meeting with a South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee group during a visit to Newry. People in South Armagh are deeply frustrated at this attitude, and at the failure of the British and Irish governments to bring about the demilitarisation of their area. Five years after the first IRA cessation and over 18 months after the Agreement, the community is still living under siege from the British Army. I will continue to press both the Irish and British governments to bring the oppressive occupation of South Armagh to an end.''

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