Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

JOINT COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE, EQUALITY, DEFENCE AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS (Sub-Committee on the Barron Report) díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 24 Jan 2006

Public Hearings on the Barron Report.

I welcome, in particular, the members of the Ludlow-Sharkey family and thank them for attending. I also welcome their solicitor, Mr. James McGuill. The sub-committee expresses its deepest sympathy to the relatives of the late Mr. Ludlow. We hope the publication of the third Barron report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow and the hearings which will be conducted by the sub-committee over the next four weeks will help the family in finding closure over his tragic death.

On 3 November 2005 the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights was asked by Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann to consider the report of the independent commission of inquiry on the murder of Seamus Ludlow and the observations made thereon by former Commissioner Wren and Mr. Justice Barron. This sub-committee was established for that purpose. We have been asked to consider the report in public session in order that the joint committee can report back to Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann by 31 March for the purposes of making such recommendations as the committee considers appropriate and any changes to legislative provisions and the legislative and other changes, if any, required in regard to the notification to the next of kin of inquests in regard to murders or deaths in suspicious circumstances.

This is the third set of hearings on inquiries made by Mr. Justice Barron. The first two have proved this kind of parliamentary activity to be vital and necessary for looking into events which have cast a long shadow over our country and the tragic history of this island during the past 35 to 36 years.

The sub-committee is composed of seven members. I am Chairman of the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights and also of the sub-committee, the other members of which are Deputy Máire Hoctor, the Government convenor on the joint committee; Deputy Finian McGrath, Independent Deputy for Dublin North-Central; Deputy Joe Costello, Labour Party spokesperson on justice and law reform; Deputy Peter Power, a Fianna Fáil Deputy for Limerick East; Deputy Gerard Murphy of Fine Gael, Vice Chairman of the joint committee, and Senator Jim Walsh, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on justice and law reform in the Seanad. Mr. Hugh Mohan, senior counsel, is advising the sub-committee with Mr. Paul Anthony McDermott.

The contributions of Mr. Ludlow's relatives are invaluable to the workings of the sub-committee. I formally thank them for their attendance this morning. The sub-committee wanted to commence the hearings by hearing what the Ludlow-Sharkey family had to say in order to place it at the centre of the work we were doing. I hope it feels and understands that purpose.

I want to go through some matters arising from Mr. Justice Barron's report to give context to our deliberations for the wider audience. Judge Barron begins by stating:

Seamus Ludlow, a 47 year old, unmarried forestry worker from Thistle Cross, Dundalk, County Louth, was killed in the early hours of the morning on 2 May 1976. He was shot a number of times. To date, no one has been charged in relation to his death.

On 30 January 1979 a letter was sent from the RUC Chief Constable's office to Chief Superintendent, Security and Intelligence, Garda Heardquarters, Dublin. It was headed, "Murder of Seamus Ludlow at Ravensdale, County Louth on 2 May 1976", and read as follows:

It has been learned from a source believed to be reliable that the [.....] members of the Red Hand Commandos (RHC) were involved in the murder of Seamus Ludlow at Ravensdale, County Louth, on 2 May 1976.

The RUC had also offered to arrange interviews with two of the suspects but it seems the offer was not taken up at the time.

Towards the end of 1995, members of the Ludlow-Sharkey family received information from a journalist to the effect that a group of loyalist extremists from mid-Ulster was responsible for Seamus's murder. Over a series of meetings, the journalist named specific persons whom he believed should have been suspects for the murder. He suggested that the family hold a press conference and also contact the Garda Commissioner with this information.

On 2 May 1996, the 20th anniversary of Seamus's death, a press conference was held by the family in Dublin. A letter was also sent to the then Garda Commissioner. The letter expressed concern at the failure to effect a prosecution in the case and at "the general conduct of the investigation by the Gardaí at the time". In particular, it was said that in the period following the murder, the family had been led to believe, by individual gardaí, that republican paramilitaries were responsible. The letter concluded:

We would greatly appreciate, therefore, if you as Garda Commissioner could see your way to order a new investigation into the murder with a view to bringing to justice those responsible for this terrible crime. The Ludlow-Sharkey family pledge its total and full co-operation in any such new investigation and undertake to provide the Gardaí with the name of the person believed to be the killer. We should point out however that we understand the gardaí already possess this information.

A new investigation was ordered by the then Commissioner and this reactivation of the case brought to light information received from the RUC in 1979 concerning four loyalist suspects for the killing. When this was brought to the attention of the Commissioner in 1997, contact was made with the RUC and the four men were arrested by RUC officers in February 1998. The four, whose names were not among those given to the Ludlow-Sharkey family by the journalist in 1995-96, were interviewed and released. A file was then sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland for a decision on whether charges should be preferred against these men. No prosecution was brought.

In 2003, the then Commissioner replied to a letter sent by the inquiry — that is, Mr. Justice Barron's inquiry — regarding the failure of the Garda to question the suspects in 1979. Mr. Justice Barron concludes that Seamus Ludlow was murdered by loyalist extremists, seemingly at random. He states that the original investigation of 1976 was conducted competently and diligently by gardaí and that they are in no way to blame for the failure to identify the killers.

The key question for the inquiry was why the information supplied by the RUC in 1979 was not pursued. The inquiry believes that the only credible explanation for this is that a direction was given to the investigating officer at the time to abandon plans to have the suspects interviewed outside the jurisdiction. As to why this might have been the case, the inquiry has stated that such a policy may have led to demands for reciprocal arrangements being demanded by the RUC. The inquiry states:

Such a policy could have arisen out of a combination of one or more of the following factors:

1) A risk that republican subversives would target RUC officers coming to this jurisdiction;

2) A risk that republican subversives would view such co-operation with the RUC as a justification for attacking members of An Garda Síochána; and

3) A fear of the political consequences arising from the fact that a certain sector of the population would perceive any co-operation with the RUC in this State as a ceding of sovereignty to the British Government.

In considering these matters, it is very important that they should be viewed in the context of the times. The period 1976-1980 was one of huge turmoil. Deep divisions and distrust existed, not only between the Nationalist and Unionist communities in Northern Ireland, but also between the governments of the United Kingdom and this State.

The Inquiry has been told that the British Government were pressing for greater co-operation on three security-related matters: hot pursuit across the border; permission for RUC officers to question suspects in the State, and overflights by British military aircraft. These three issues evoked strong reactions amongst ordinary people in the State, and such popular opposition was inevitably reflected in the policies and attitudes of the Gardaí and successive governments.

In the matter of the inquest, Mr. Justice Barron states that there appears to have been no justification for the failure to notify Kevin Ludlow of the date of the inquest into his brother's death. Given the nature and circumstances of the death, other family members should also have been notified. The fact that the inquest proceeded reflects a belief that because the cause of death was undisputed, the inquest procedure was a formality. While this was technically true, the decision to proceed in the absence of family members caused them unnecessary hurt and annoyance at a time of extraordinary sadness and difficulty in their lives.

The sub-committee will hear today from individual members of the Ludlow-Sharkey family, whom I again sincerely thank for their attendance. The sub-committee wanted to commence by hearing from the people most affected by this tragic event. In the afternoon session, it will hear from Justice for the Forgotten and British Irish Rights Watch. I welcome Ms Margaret Urwin, the secretary of Justice for the Forgotten and Cormac Ó Dúlacháin who are in the Public Gallery.

On the second day of proceedings, we will hear submissions from former Detective John Courtney and former Commissioner Lawrence Wren as well as other gardaí named in the report. We will also hear from Mr. Gerry Collins, who was Minister for Justice in 1979, and Deputy McDowell, the current Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

In respect of the procedures and for the benefit of those present, it should be noted that the sub-committee is bound by very precise terms of reference beyond which it will not stray. In particular, the sub-committee is not conducting an investigation of its own into the events that happened during the period concerned, nor is it seeking to apportion guilt or innocence to any individual person or body. It has neither the jurisdiction nor the legal authority to perform any such function. We ask everybody appearing before us to respect the fact that we cannot stray beyond our terms of reference. Everyone who comes before us today and during the remainder of our hearings will do so voluntarily and we thank them all most sincerely for their attendance on that basis.

The sub-committee is very concerned that any person who appears before it is fully aware that he or she is not entitled to any form of statutory or parliamentary privilege. While members enjoy certain parliamentary privilege in respect of these proceedings, those attending or assisting us do not enjoy that same privilege.

The sub-committee expresses its gratitude to Mr. Justice Barron for the work he and his staff have done in producing the report we are about to consider. Before I invite Mr. Kevin Ludlow to speak, perhaps the representative from James McGuill Solicitors would like to make some introductory remarks.

Mr. James McGuill

The family are very grateful for the committee's invitation to participate today and will be adopting the position they have adopted with every former inquiry into this matter, which is one of open co-operation. The committee will hear from the family how they feel that co-operation and good faith was not rewarded in the past and how they have felt let down by official bodies that they have had to deal with before.

We will not be making legal submissions at the outset because we have been in discussion with Mr. Mohan and the intention is that we will make a legal submission at the conclusion of the submissions to the sub-committee. The submission, in short, will be to the effect that we are very anxious that the committee will, within its remit, examine the policy issues and considerations that are at play in this case. We accept that, under the Supreme Court ruling in Ardagh v. Maguire, the sub-committee cannot really deal with the actual facts of the Seamus Ludlow case. We will make a strong submission to the effect that this issue, the discrete examination of the facts in this case, is an appropriate one for examination by a public inquiry. In short, we say this is, effectively, either dereliction of duty or misconduct in public office. The evidence must be heard in public and the family must have an opportunity to direct questions to the principal actors. The public must hear that evidence.

We accept that the committee is constrained in its proceedings and that it cannot go as far as it or the family would like it to go. Therefore, it is a dual process and we are here to deal with the public policy issues. The family has tried to structure the submissions and contributions in a way that fits in with the modules proposed by the committee. However, there will be some duplication, although we will try to avoid it. The family is conscious of its position in terms of not having legal privilege and not, therefore, being fully in a position to express themselves. We are talking about 30 years of deception and upset for the family so some family members might find it difficult to express themselves. While they will do their best the committee must accept that this has been an appalling experience for them over three decades. However, we will try to give the committee a flavour of how an ordinary, law abiding family found themselves with a life changing set of circumstances and were abandoned, and their hurt compounded, by the conduct of the State authorities with which they had to deal.

That is our introduction. The family has given the committee a running order which they believe will be helpful to the committee's work. Obviously, however, the committee members will direct their own questions.

Will Mr. Kevin Ludlow, a brother of the late Seamus Ludlow, address the committee?

Mr. Kevin Ludlow

We lost a brother and it is a shame to think of how the Garda treated the family. We were treated very badly for 20 years, until we started this process ten years ago. We got nothing but lies from the Garda, who blamed the IRA or members of the family for what happened. How they carried on was absolutely wrong. When I saw the body in the ditch and identified it, I just could not believe it. To think that our brother was murdered and we were told lies day after day. Every time we talked to the Garda we got lies, lies, lies.

We should not have had to go through all this for 30 years. It is a shame to think that a citizen of this State was treated in this way. We were treated very badly. One would think the Garda could tell us some truth rather than telling lies all the time. They could not even tell us when the inquest was on, which was 19 August 1976. They could not even get that right. They waited until the last minute before coming to my house — I was away working in Newry — to tell us that the inquest was being held. They say there was a mix up but how could there be a mix up with such an important inquest? There could not be a mix up.

That just shows how they were covering up everything all the time. No matter when we spoke to them all we heard was that it was the IRA. It might be said in different ways. Bad language was used at times but I will not repeat it on television. What they did to us was not fair.

We must have a public inquiry. We did not even get an apology from the Garda; they have never said they were sorry for anything. Will there ever be an apology? I do not know. My sisters, and the late Paddy and I were treated badly. Paddy was very great with the Garda but that is how they treated us. Members of our family are in the Garda but they are not much better. They would do the same. I feel bad and so do my sisters. I never thought we would have this after almost 30 years. As I say, we are not getting any younger and it is time something came to a head and that it was all straightened out for us. That is all I can say now.

Were you close to your brother?

Mr. K. Ludlow

I was never in the town. He was living with my sister. I used to meet him and I would drink with him. One would think that the gardaí would have done a better job than they did, but no, they could not do that. They could not do it right. Imagine being a member of the family. That just shows you the way they were working, does it not? I do not think I will say any more now.

I know it is very difficult for you, Kevin, to come here today and to say what you have said and let us know how emotionally you feel and how you feel about it. I appreciate it very much.

Mr. K. Ludlow

We feel very bad now.

I will now invite Deputy Costello and Deputy Hoctor to have a dialogue with you on the matter, if they so wish.

Like the Chairman, I wish to welcome all the members of the Ludlow-Sharkey family here today. We appreciate the fact that they have come before us. We know how difficult it is after 30 years and all the trauma and suffering they have experienced to come here and re-open all these old wounds. We are very pleased that they have come, despite all those difficulties. We think it is important for the process in which we are engaged that we would hear at first hand what their experiences were over that 30 year period. We thank them for coming before the committee and making that public statement. It is important for the committee and for the country at large to hear their voices and their experiences concerning the killing of their brother and what transpired subsequently.

I would like to ask Mr. Kevin Ludlow a few questions, if I may, about the whole matter. He said that basically he was badly treated by the Garda Síochána and that he was misinformed. Will he elaborate a bit more on that? He was the first person to identify his brother's body.

Mr. K. Ludlow

Yes, I was.

He was there at the spot. Will he tell us a bit about it?

Mr. K. Ludlow

My two brothers-in-law were with me — Seán Sharkey and Tommy Cox.

In Ballymascanlon?

Mr. K. Ludlow

Yes, on the bog road. We came up to the gardaí. I knew many gardaí there. We got out of the car and I said, "My brother is missing". One garda said, "We have taken him in the field down the lane". When I saw the body I knew it was him. I went back up to the house to my mother but I could not tell her anything. There were a lot of neighbours on the road and one fellow said to me, "That's not Seamus". I said, "It is". I said that to the gardaí and they brought me back down again. I said, "That's okay".

After that stage, the Garda investigation took place. What approaches were made in 1976 to the family members? How did the gardaí interact with them in that first investigation?

Mr. K. Ludlow

Very poorly. Some 21 days after——

I appreciate, Kevin, that you have not named any gardaí.

Mr. K. Ludlow


I just want to ensure members of the committee and witnesses do not name people.

Mr. K. Ludlow

I will not name people.

Thank you.

Mr. K. Ludlow

Twenty one days after the murder everything stopped — just ran into the ground. Everything completely stopped. Not one detective or garda came back to any of the family to say they were doing this or that. They just faded away. It never happened.

The 1976 investigation lasted less than a month in so far as contact with Mr. Ludlow was made.

Mr. K. Ludlow

It just faded away.

After that, what transpired? Mr. Ludlow said there was mention of IRA——

Mr. K. Ludlow

I was dealing with a sergeant. I moved down to Cavan in 1983 and any time we come back to Dundalk I always call to see him. I met him in June 1995. That is the last time I talked to him and that is the time he came in with one of my nephews, one of the family.

Were there rumours abroad in relation to who killed Seamus Ludlow, membership of illegal organisations and so on?

Mr. K. Ludlow

No, not at that time. We were not back working on it until 1995. They accused a member of the family which was wrong and they knew who did it. That is why the whole thing closed down after 21 days because they knew who did it and did not want to upset the apple cart.

The gardaí never said they were sorry.

Mr. K. Ludlow

Not at all. They never said they were sorry.

Would an apology from the Garda help at this stage?

Mr. K. Ludlow

None whatsoever. There was no apology at all. I do not know if we will ever get an apology. I think we should get one. Did the Deputy ask if the family would like an apology?

Mr. K. Ludlow

Of course we would, for what they did.

As well as that side of the case, the Garda investigation, there was also a major issue in relation to the coroner's inquest.

Mr. K. Ludlow

The inquest.

Yes. Mr. Ludlow was particularly involved in that. Will he tell us about that?

Mr. K. Ludlow

I was on holidays in Cavan in the last week of July and the first week of August. When I came back my neighbour told me the Garda were looking for me. I thought it was only for the inquest. I went up to the barracks but there was no word of the inquest. I went back to work on Tuesday — I was working in Newry — and at 10.15 a.m. a garda called to the house and said the inquest was on at 11 a.m. I asked if it could be put back because I was working in Newry. He said they could not because it was first on the list and it had to be heard first. That was wrong, was it not?

Mr. Ludlow was not contacted. No contact was made until that point. No previous contact was made at all.

Mr. K. Ludlow


No garda came before the——

Mr. K. Ludlow


There was no communication.

Mr. K. Ludlow

There was no communication at all.

What about the rest of the family?

Mr. K. Ludlow

There was none at all.

Mr. Ludlow has serious criticism about the manner in which coroner's inquest took place.

Mr. K. Ludlow


The family would welcome an apology from the Garda.

Mr. K. Ludlow

I would think so.

I join my colleagues in welcoming the family and the legal team. We very much appreciate their presence here however difficult it is. Like Deputy Costello, I will direct a few questions to Mr. Kevin Ludlow. Early in the Barron report, it refers to the journalist who contacted the family approximately 20 years after Seamus's death and who, no doubt, played a significant role up to this point. Will Mr. Ludlow tell us about the role of the journalist? Did he first make contact in 1995 or was Mr. Ludlow aware of his work and his research prior to that?

Mr. K. Ludlow

The first time I met him was in 1995. He was very good to us. He gave us names but it ended up afterwards that we got the right names from that. After all, it must be remembered that the Garda had those names from the very start and it was nothing new to it to think that we found it out.

Mr. Justice Barron mentions in the final conclusion that it is his belief that it was a random killing. Does Mr. Ludlow accept this?

Mr. K. Ludlow

I would say it was a random killing.

What were the reasons the Garda delayed the investigation, the evidence was lost and the Garda appeared to do nothing to correct the false impression that Seamus was a possible IRA informant?

Mr. K. Ludlow

They said he was an IRA informant and that is why the IRA killed him, which was wrong. These were the lies they were giving out about the man. Seamus worked for another party at elections in Ravensdale and he definitely had nothing to do with the IRA. The IRA had no call to kill him anyway — definitely not. This is the way it was doing these things, just to blacken the family.

Has Mr. Ludlow come to any conclusion as to why the Garda acted as it did or failed to act as he would have liked?

Mr. K. Ludlow

They just did not care about us. They just said that it was only the Ludlow family. They did not care. They obviously did not care given the way they covered it all up. They treated us very badly.

What would Mr. Ludlow like the committee to do or how would he like to see us proceed from the hearings?

Mr. K. Ludlow

We want to get a public inquiry. That is what we are looking for.

I thank Mr. Ludlow. I ask Mrs. Nan Sharkey, a sister of Seamus, to tell us about Seamus, how she feels about it and what she wants to say.

Mrs. Nan Sharkey

Seamus lived with me, or I lived with him. He was a very good fellow. He was a very good living chap. He never got into any trouble and he was good to his parents. Anywhere he went, he would tell me who he got a lift from or who he got home with. He never gave any trouble to anyone.

He was living with Mrs. Sharkey.

Mrs. Sharkey

Yes. He was very kind to my children. He was a good living man too so there is no one to say anything about him.

Is there something Mrs. Sharkey wishes to say in relation to her mother?

Mrs. Sharkey

She never knew what happened him. It just killed her; that was it. Seamus was her God. She never got better after that.

Did Mrs. Sharkey have difficulty in telling her mother at the time?

Mrs. Sharkey

We had to tell her he was in a car accident. We could not tell her the way he was shot. She died not knowing. She never knew about it. You could not tell her; she was confined to bed. She was heartbroken.

Who was living with Mrs. Sharkey and Seamus? Were there many in the household at the time?

Mrs. Sharkey

My family and my husband.

Were there many children?

Mrs. Sharkey

I had ten.

You are a great woman.

Mrs. Sharkey

I am here anyway.

Perhaps Deputy Peter Power and Deputy Murphy might enter into dialogue with Mrs. Sharkey on the matter.

I thank Mrs. Sharkey for attending today. I join my colleagues in expressing our sympathy for the hurt and trauma which she and the wider family have gone through over the past 20 or 30 years. As a committee, we recognise her bravery in attending here, which is not the easiest of environments. We are used to it but it might not be as easy for Mrs. Sharkey. I thank her for attending.

Seamus lived with Mrs. Sharkey and I would like to ask her a number of questions about the immediate aftermath of the murder and her contact with the Garda. She indicated he always related to her what he was doing, he was never in any trouble and he led a straightforward, simple life. Leaving aside the huge shock——

Mrs. Sharkey

He never even stayed away from the house. He always came home. He never stayed away a night. That was the only night he did not came home. My mother did not know it until that Sunday evening. I did not tell her that he had not come home.

Leaving aside the desperate shock and trauma of his murder, it must have been a terrible bolt out of the blue to hear from officialdom that he may, in some way, have been connected with the IRA. If, as Mrs. Sharkey said, he was at home every night, that would be inconsistent with being a member of that organisation. How did Mrs. Sharkey feel when the gardaí came to her and said their belief was he was tied up with the IRA? What was her reaction to that?

Mrs. Sharkey

We knew he was not in any organisation at all. He was a fellow who kept to himself. He went out and had a drink on a Saturday night and that was it.

Did Mrs. Sharkey challenge the gardaí at the time? That would not have been easy but did the family say they could not understand how he would be involved with the IRA?

Mrs. Sharkey

We did not. They drifted away then after that. We did not see much of them and they never came back.

Did the gardaí give an explanation as to how they based their judgment that he was involved with the IRA?

Mrs. Sharkey

They did not say anything to me but they did say it to some of the family.

That question might be directed elsewhere later.

I move forward to when the family was informed by a journalist that credible information had emerged that the murder was committed by loyalist paramilitaries. Am I correct that the family believed the Garda for all those years? It must have come as a bolt out of the blue to hear an organisation other than the IRA had committed the murder. How did the family feel when it heard that completely different information?

Mrs. Sharkey

We did not believe it was the IRA anyway. It was a while before we heard who it was.

When the family was told it was not the Red Hand Commandos or people linked to that organisation and not the IRA, what was the impact on the family?

Mrs. Sharkey

We were all annoyed. It was not nice. The Garda did not do anything.

Was there a sense of betrayal that gardaí had led the family to believe something totally untrue?

Mrs. Sharkey

The gardaí never said anything to me about it but they kept saying it to other family members.

I thank Mrs. Sharkey again from attending the sub-committee. Her contribution will form an important part of our report. It is important for us to understand the impact actions by certain gardaí had on individual citizens.

I, too, welcome the members of the Ludlow-Sharkey family. It must be extremely difficult to have to relive that part of their lives. I want to follow up on the original assertion made by the Garda that the IRA committed the murder and the suggestion he may have been an informer. Did this have a major impact locally on the family? Was there a lot of talk and rumours?

Mrs. Sharkey

We knew he was not. There was nothing like that. He was a good chap and a good living man.

I know that was the case and Mr. Justice Barron came to that conclusion. I just wonder what affect it had on the family among the local community.

Mrs. Sharkey

We all had to listen to the rumours. What else could we have done? A lot was said that was not correct.

How long was the family left under that impression?

Mrs. Sharkey

I do not know, a good while, for approximately 20 years.

Was it the Garda which gave members of the family this impression initially?

Mrs. Sharkey


After that, when the Barron report was published and Mr. Justice Barron came to the conclusion that a loyalist action had been responsible, did the Garda make any effort to——

Mrs. Sharkey

No. It did wrong.

The Barron report concluded that the Garda investigation had been good — as good as it could have been given the way the Garda operated at the time. What was the family's general reaction to this?

Mrs. Sharkey

I forget what it was.

Was it disappointed with that aspect of the outcome?

Mrs. Sharkey

Yes, we were.

Does the family still feel the only way to resolve the matter is to hold a public inquiry?

Mrs. Sharkey

Yes, we would love to have it.

I welcome Mrs. Eileen Fox, sister of Seamus, and thank her for coming.

We were subjected to an awful lot of harassment from gardaí who were in and out every day. For weeks they were with me in the house every day. They were saying it was the IRA and this and that.

Were there many around the family for a long time after the murder? Were they sympathetic?

The people who were around, gardaí.

No way.

Perhaps we will have a dialogue with Deputy Finian McGrath and Senator Jim Walsh to broaden out matters.

I welcome Mrs. Fox and sympathise with her family on the horrific murder of Seamus who, as far as I am concerned, was an innocent Irish citizen, a forestry worker, and travelling home from a social night out. What happened to the Ludlow family was appalling and totally unacceptable. Before we go any further, it is important to state members of the joint Oireachtas committee believe Seamus and his murder matter to every member. I assure the family there will be no fudge on the issue in trying to get at the truth, to get justice and assist the family in the best way we can.

My first question relates to what happened in the immediate aftermath of the murder. What was the initial reaction of the family and extended family, particularly in the days following the murder?

The day he was murdered we had very little -——

Can Mrs. Fox describe the hurt and trauma of the days after the murder from the family's point of view so we can have some insight into it?

It was terrible.

Basically the family was turned upside down with the shock and the trauma, is that so?

What was the immediate reaction of the Garda to Seamus's murder during those few days? Without stating names, what was its approach to the family with regard to who was responsible?

They were not very nice any time they called to me. The way they carried on was terrible. Just one called.

From a public service point of view, as far as the family was concerned, they were not treated properly and fairly.

Added to the nightmare of Seamus's murder, there was the added implication, noted in the written submission, that members of the family could be implicated in the murder. From where did that idea come?

I do not know.

Was it from a Garda source?

Mr. Brendan Ludlow


This implication adds a further horrific hurt. It is important this committee knows that is from where the implication came and that it was made at that time. From a personal point of view, who did the family think was responsible for Seamus's murder? Did the family have any suspicions?

Our brother was murdered, which was awful, and we were thinking and thinking about it. For them to come in and say it was someone else, we did not know where we were going or what to think.

Therefore, in the immediate few days after the murder the family did not know what had happened or whether it was loyalist paramilitaries or a local or paramilitary issue. Did it have any indication at all?

From where did the story of him being an "informer" come? What was the source of that story? Why did that arise?

I do not know, I thought it was just intimidation by the Garda. Even the day after they were still at the same story.

That story was prevalent at the time as far as the family was concerned. Were any local politicians in the area spinning this story and making these assertions?

I do not know.

Did that arise?

I do not know.

Mr. B. Ludlow

Not until later.

To tell the truth, I do not know.

Was there ever any mention in the early days of loyalist paramilitaries or members of the UDR and British security forces being involved in Seamus's murder? We had received submissions on the victims of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, but this was two years after the 1974 bombings.

Was there any question of that?

From the Garda?

From anybody?

I never heard any.

Even though sectarian and security force killings were fairly common at the time.

I did not hear it from the Garda. I heard it said, but not from the Garda.

Did Mrs. Fox hear it as one of the possible options from the Garda? An objective policeman involved in an inquiry would look at all the options. Surely that should have been a top priority option at the time. Did Mrs. Fox hear it from any Garda source?

Did any senior garda ever mention the scenario of the possibility of loyalist paramilitaries or members of the UDR being involved in Seamus's murder?

I know it is very difficult to speak about this, but from the family's point of view is it the bottom line that the family wants a public inquiry?

Does the family want an end to the fudging and messing around with the issue?

Mrs. Fox. Yes.

In common with my colleagues, I wish to sympathise with Mrs. Fox and the other family members on their loss and on the failure to achieve closure during the past 30 years which has obviously exacerbated the feelings experienced by the family.

Will Mrs. Fox indicate to the sub-committee where she lived in relation to Thistle Cross which is where Seamus lived?

I lived next door to where he lived — I thought the Senator meant where he was murdered.

You lived beside each other.

There is great angst on the part of the family concerning the Garda approach and the failure to progress the case. Prior to the murder, did the family have any relationship, good, bad or indifferent, with the Garda?

The family would have had no interaction with the Garda Síochána.

So dealing with the Garda was a new experience.

I refer to page 55 of the report which states that Mrs. Fox had regular contact with Garda Larry Crowe of Dundalk during the investigation in 1976. It states that Mrs. Fox was annoyed at the regularity of his visits, largely because of the nature of his line of questioning, but it states she found his visits gave her an opportunity to at least ascertain what was happening regarding the case. Will Mrs. Fox tell the sub-committee how often that garda visited her in 1976?

I would say, off and on——

The Senator should not refer to the actions of individual gardaí at this time.

He is named in the report.

I am aware of that but I do not wish the Senator to do so.

How regular were the visits?

Off and on for a good few weeks.

I want to ascertain the number of gardaí who interacted with Mrs. Fox — but without naming them — and the content of the interviews. The sub-committee needs to be given an indication of the line of questioning as this is an important matter and formed a significant part of the family's submission to the sub-committee.

I remind the Senator to do this without naming people.

On the question of the naming of gardaí, I ask that the family give those names to their solicitor who could then pass them on to the sub-committee's counsel, Mr. Hugh Mohan SC. They could then be considered in private session.

I am trying to elicit the nature of the interviews and how the family has arrived at its strong feelings in that regard.

There will be another opportunity later. We should conclude questioning Mrs. Fox now.

It has been indicated that someone else will reply to that question.

Mr. Joe Tiernan visited Mrs. Fox in October 1995 and gave her information on the possible identities of suspects for the murder. I believe the names and the area which he stated were incorrect. Prior to that visit ——

I ask the Senator not to refer to anyone by name.

I am not naming any names.

The Senator has referred to Joe Tiernan, the journalist. I do not wish any criticism to be applied to any named individual and I would prefer if the Senator did not mention any names.

A reporter visited Mrs. Fox in October 1995 and indicated the identities of possible suspects. Prior to this visit, had she ever received any indication that loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for her brother's death?

The reporter did not name the source of his information at that stage but he subsequently named that source to Mrs. Fox. The source was a garda. Did Mrs. Fox have any subsequent contact with that garda with regard to his information?

I thank Mrs Fox. I know how difficult this is for her and the sub-committee appreciates her attendance.

We will now deal with Michael Donegan who is a nephew of Seamus Ludlow. Michael Donegan is a son of Kevin Donegan, who, we know from the report, was questioned by the British in Northern Ireland and there was considerable toing and froing. I am very disappointed that we have still not been able to receive from the Northern Ireland authorities any information of any description regarding Mr. Donegan's interviewing, particularly considering that helicopter travel was involved. One would assume there would be information regarding the trips for helicopters. Even that information has been withheld and has not been forthcoming. I state our utter disappointment with the authorities in Northern Ireland for their non-co-operation with us. I hope I have not put Mr. Donegan out in any way.

Mr. Michael Donegan

Not at all.

I ask him to tell us what he would like to say.

Mr. Donegan

I thank the committee for having us here. We welcome this opportunity to speak publicly for the first time. As the members will realise I come from Northern skies. I may have a different perspective on this matter. I had no contact with the Garda, although the Chairman mentioned my father, who did, over a period of months following the killing. He went to Dundalk and met several detectives. He just wanted to know what the score was — what was happening. He had, in his early life, been in the Defence Forces of this State for 14 years and basically believed that if he heard it from Garda then it must be true. He basically believed them.

They told him the IRA did it and not only that the IRA did it, but that it was a family affair. They told him that members of the family were involved in it. It was a set up. They set Uncle Seamus up. They told him that members of the family actually took part in the killing. As I said, he was a man who basically believed what he was told by the Garda, even though what they told him did not make sense. It caused all kinds of conflict in the house. We knew there was no way that man was killed by the IRA. There was just no way on God's earth that he was an informer. There was no way that any member of the family would ever be involved in such a thing. There is no question about it; the killing traumatised the family, turned us upside down. To a large extent it put our lives on hold for the next 30 years, which is why we are here today.

He met these gardaí over a number of months and they just kept putting it home to him: the IRA, the IRA, the IRA. He went to his grave with that belief: that it was the IRA, because of what they told him. There is no question that it caused a lot of conflict in my house. I am not going to try to avoid it now.

He also comes into the picture as the day after Uncle Seamus was buried, a party of British soldiers came to our house. We live in a place called Drumintee, just a few miles across the Border close to Forkhill Barracks. My father opened the door to them and they told him they were sent by the RUC to ask some questions of my mother, who was the sister of Seamus Ludlow. It was very strange, when I think about it, that they knew my mother was Seamus Ludlow's sister. Some of our neighbours did not know that; the British Army did. My father told them it had nothing to do with them, they were not police, this was not their jurisdiction and that they should go away. They insisted they were going to get the answers they were looking for. When eventually my mother came out to see what was going on, they started putting questions to her, such as why the IRA would do that to her brother as surely to God it would not do that for nothing. They suggested he must have been involved in something, must have been a bad man and deserved it. This went on for some time.

When they departed, my father got on a bicycle, cycled the two miles to Forkhill to take it up with the RUC, to make a complaint. When he got there, apparently there were no RUC officers available or if they were there they were not interested in him. He was then abducted, put aboard a British military helicopter and flown to Bessbrook where he was interrogated for over an hour by a military intelligence officer. He did not speak about it much, but he always said the one thing they wanted to know was what the Garda knew and was thinking, and what was its line of inquiry.

He was away from home for more than an hour. My mother became rather concerned because Forkhill is only a short distance away — about ten minutes on a bicycle, there and back — and he had not returned. She telephoned the barracks and was told they had never heard of him. She became very concerned and telephoned the local councillor. Like the good man that he was, he jumped in his car and drove straight to Forkhill. He was satisfied that my father was not there. At first, they would not tell him where my father was. Eventually, he got it out of them that my father was in Bessbrook. He then drove to Bessbrook to bring my father home.

We never really told the story to many people. I was amazed years later when I read Monsignor Murray's book, The SAS in Ireland, to find that the story was there. I do not know how he found out about it. I presume he got it from the late councillor I have mentioned because he did not get it from us. The family believed at the time that the British Army had some interest in and knowledge of this case. A murder in Dundalk should not have been any of its business. Really, it should not have been at our door asking questions about it. I firmly believe that they — the British Army — probably knew about this from day one. They were just trying to track what we knew and what the gardaí knew.

We have lived continually in the south Armagh area for all those years. I do not think there is anyone in the area who really believes that uncle Seamus was an informer, even though these rumours were out there. The rumours never went away. It would be wrong to assume that the rumours just came from the gardaí — they did not. I have with me copies of two books — two scurrilous publications — written about the SAS, both of which state as a fact that uncle Seamus was an informer who was murdered by the IRA. I presume that the source of that information is the British Army. Clearly, the rumour mill was North and South.

Someone saw it expedient to denigrate the memory of this good man and to bring all kinds of hurt to our family because of this. They did not care who he was — he was expendable and we were expendable. We have only heard in the last ten years that the RUC had a file in 1977. The RUC never came to us in Dromintee in 1977, or in 1979 or in 1998. Indeed, from the day the British Army was at our door, the RUC has never ever come near the Donegan family about this case. It has never shown us any consideration whatsoever.

I firmly believe and my family believes the only way we are going to get this thrashed out is in a full-blown public inquiry, where we are able to name names in such a way we cannot do today. We have come here today knowing we are under restrictions, just as the sub-committee is under restrictions. It is clear that some issues cannot be thrashed out here. I firmly believe they can only be thrashed out at a public inquiry, where witnesses can be compelled to appear and to give evidence and where documents can be compelled. If it means the British do not co-operate, so be it. That does not mean an inquiry cannot go ahead. The British can be shamed for their non-appearance. They should be ashamed. We have been waiting for 30 years. I have gone grey in that time. As I said, our lives are on hold.

This should be behind us a long time ago. Several members of the family have passed away. Since we started this more recent track in the last ten years, I have lost three cousins. Mrs. Eileen Fox has lost a daughter, Maria, who died suddenly and cannot be here today. Another cousin, Mr. Brendan Larkin, would be sitting at this table if he were alive. His sister is Mrs. Dolores Flanagan. We do not have time. I do not think we can afford to wait another five years, or whatever, down the line. We need the truth now. We need justice now. I ask the sub-committee to think carefully and to give us a public inquiry.

I thank Mr. Donegan. I invite Deputies Hoctor and Costello to ask some questions.

I thank the Chair and Mr. Donegan. I would like Mr. Donegan to clarify a couple of points. Was Mr. Donegan's mother, Kathleen, a sister of Seamus Ludlow's?

Mr. Donegan


This very unusual event was made even more unusual by the questioning of Mr. Donegan's father rather than his mother. Can he comment on that?

Mr. Donegan

He was the one who went to Forkhill whereas my mother did not. The abduction would have happened to whomever had gone there. It was a traumatic experience for him to be put in a helicopter and whisked away. Not everybody wanted to get into a noisy machine like a helicopter over south Armagh in what were dangerous times.

Was Mr. Donegan's mother questioned at all?

Mr. Donegan

She was only questioned at the door of the house. They were there for 20 to 30 minutes demanding information from her. She was disgusted because it was none of their business. They were not police and although it did not even happen in the North, they were making it their business. They came in a party in the name of the RUC, who were not interested and have not bothered us about it since.

Mr. Donegan said it appeared to him that there was British interest in the case. What other conclusions has he drawn?

Mr. Donegan

At the time, I believed the SAS was involved. There was a famous incident on the south Armagh-north Louth Border around that time when eight SAS officers were taken by the Garda. Their weapons were checked to see if they were used in this case which indicates a level of suspicion that the SAS was involved. My radar was definitely pointed in that direction and, possibly, at loyalists. I do not know what the cover-up is about and why the Garda spread lies among the family, tried to split us apart, kept us away from the inquest, withheld new information which came forward and has refused to apologise. A public inquiry is required to get these people in front of us to tell us how it was. They seem to be running away from us.

Has Mr. Donegan come up with any reasons as to why the false impression about Seamus was not rectified by the Garda or the British authorities?

Mr. Donegan

He was a lone victim and, as such, vulnerable to being defamed. He was not killed in a bombing and was the clear victim of a random act, somebody picked him out. We know who picked him out but they did not know or care who he was. The implication is that if he was picked out, maybe he deserved it, from which idea I totally disassociate myself. That is the source of the rumours. It was felt that he was a likely one and that he could be framed while matters it was wished to keep from the public could be covered up. I do not know why they wanted to do this or what was their motive in failing to go after the killers when they knew who they were from fairly early on. Apparently, they knew within three months that it was not the IRA, but they never told us that. They harped on throughout the years — not to me but to my relatives — that it was the IRA and they even named a member of the family as a person involved in the killing. That is hard to take.

I thank Mr. Donegan very much.

I thank Mr. Donegan for his account. The British army personnel arrived at the home of Mr. Donegan's parents the day after the burial. How did they arrive? Were they in uniform or plain clothes?

Mr. Donegan

They were in uniform. I do not know if they walked to the area or came by helicopter, but they stood at the door in uniform.

Does Mr. Donegan have any idea of their rank?

Mr. Donegan

No, I was not present. I was at work and it was all over when I came home.

Mr. Donegan's father never mentioned their rank and the soldiers did not identify themselves as ranking officers.

Mr. Donegan

No, they were just soldiers. I imagine one of them was a junior officer but I cannot vouch for that.

Their main statement or allegation was that Seamus had been killed by the IRA.

Mr. Donegan

Yes, they said that as a fact. They came to establish as fact that Seamus was killed by the IRA and must have deserved it and that he must have been a bad man.

That seemed to be their belief.

Mr. Donegan


There was never a suggestion as to from where that belief had come.

Mr. Donegan

I think it came from whomever sent the soldiers to our door. I do not think the soldiers who came to our door knew anything about the case. They came to do a job and were told what to do. They were sent by somebody to deliver that message and drive that point home, whether they knew it was right or not. Somebody in Forkhill, Bessbrook or wherever sent them to do it. They wanted to establish the fact that Seamus was killed by the IRA and must have deserved it. The implication, of course, is that he was an informer.

Mr. Donegan's father ran them out the gate and told them to get lost.

Mr. Donegan

Yes, but they would not do so.

They told him he had to make himself available at Forkhill RUC station.

Mr. Donegan

Yes, but he did not go toForkhill because they told him. He went because he wanted to sort out the matter with the RUC.

He went to Forkhill RUC station.

Mr. Donegan


He was then questioned there by military people, not the RUC.

Mr. Donegan

I do not think any members of the RUC were available. If they were there, they were not interested in him.

It was, therefore, a British military operation.

Mr. Donegan

It was a military operation which apparently had nothing to do with the RUC. They bundled him onto a chopper and sent him to Bessbrook where he was interrogated.

The Barron report states that the line of inquiry pursued related to the Garda line of inquiry. Had Mr. Donegan's father already spoken to the Garda at that stage?

Mr. Donegan

I do not think so. He had discussions with some detectives over a subsequent period of months. I think this incident took place on the day after the funeral. When there is a death in a family, particularly a very traumatic death such as Seamus's, families become very closed in. I do not think my father had any discussion with the Garda. I do not even think he saw any gardaí.

Did he speak to the Garda later on?

Mr. Donegan

Yes, he did so on several occasions and gardaí convinced him that the IRA did it.

They convinced him.

Mr. Donegan


They reached the same conclusion as that reached by the British army.

Mr. Donegan

Yes, they were singing from the hymn sheet on both sides of the Border. The same message was coming across. They wanted us to believe the IRA killed Seamus and that somebody in the family was involved. If the family is divided, by definition we are not united and in no fit state to oppose the censorship taking place around us or question what is going on. To some extent, that worked over the years.

The impression given to Mr. Donegan's family from the beginning was that the IRA was involved.

Mr. Donegan

That is a fact. My father got that impression on both sides of the Border.

Why did the security authorities on both sides of the Border come up with the same false statement or allegation?

Mr. Donegan

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would imagine that gardaí in Dundalk probably knew more than they are still letting on and that they were probably aware that something was happening in Dundalk that night. We have information that a certain individual was being sought in Dundalk that night. There was a target. The cover story we have been told is that there was a drinking spree and they just happened to find themselves in Dundalk but we know they were there to kill a man whom they subsequently did not find.

Who were in Dundalk?

Mr. Donegan

The four loyalists were in Dundalk to kill an individual. They could not find him and it was while on their way home that they came upon our uncle.

Does Mr. Donegan believe that the British army was connected in some way with this case?

Mr. Donegan

I believe the British army and the RUC have been always connected with such cases and evidence is growing all the time about their involvement with the loyalist death squads. I am convinced of that.

Does Mr. Donegan believe that the questioning of his father was related in some way?

Mr. Donegan

I do. I believe people in the British army in Bessbrook or Forkhill also had knowledge of what happened or what was going down in Dundalk that night and they wanted to know what we knew and, more important, what the Garda knew.

Does Mr. Donegan believe it was something of a trawling expedition?

Mr. Donegan

That is what I believe.

Did the army ever come back again to your family home?

Mr. Donegan

Oddly enough, no. That was it.

There was an initial visit. Mr. Donegan's father travelled; then he was taken in a helicopter. It all took place in the space of one day.

Mr. Donegan

Yes. That was it. My father continued to have meetings with the Garda, south of the Border, over the following months but never again with the British army or the RUC.

Is it Mr. Donegan's belief this was a quite deliberate attempt by the army to find out what it could in relation to it——

Mr. Donegan


——and that it reflected a connection in regard to an activity?

Mr. Donegan

I believe it had knowledge, if not prior knowledge. It just wanted to know what we and the Garda knew. I believe it was checking its cover.

How firm is Mr. Donegan's information that there might have been a different hit target?

Mr. Donegan

It is very firm. As I said, we have a name. I have a note here. Does Deputy Peter Power wish to ask a question?

I have just one very brief question. Everybody here was impressed by Mr. Donegan's command of the detail of what happened at the time. However, he said he did not know why the Garda would come up with a tissue of lies. With his knowledge, could he not speculate in order that we could examine the possibility of why the Garda would go through an elaborate sham when it had no evidence to back it up?

Mr. Donegan

To be quite honest, I do not think speculation would be very useful. That is why we want a public inquiry, in order that we can get away from the speculation. Let us get to the facts.

We have to stick to policy in this matter. We will move on from there and come back to that point. Deputy Costello will ask a brief final question.

My question relates to the inquest. Was any attempt made to contact Mr. Donegan's family?

Mr. Donegan

Not at all. The first we heard of the inquest was in the following weeks in the Dundalk Democrat. That hurt a lot. We heard along with the rest. People came up to us and asked what had happened but we did not know. It was embarrassing to find we did not know what had gone on at the inquest into how our loved one had been murdered in such foul circumstances. We knew nothing about it. Nobody else was approached. My aunts, Mrs. Nan Sharkey and Mrs. Eileen Fox, live at Thistle Cross, next door to each other where my uncle, Seamus Ludlow, had lived. The garda responsible for informing the family was stationed at Dromad. He would have had to drive past their houses to go to Dundalk, yet he could not drop in to let them know about the inquest.

We are getting very close to the bone. Does Senator Walsh have a question?

I appreciate Mr. Donegan might not be able to answer this question but to the best of his knowledge, did the Garda ever interview or take a statement from his father with regard to that whole episode?

Mr. Donegan

To be quite honest, I do not know. I know he met them on a number of occasions. He met them once or twice in a car. A statement would hardly have been made in that kind of situation but he went to the barracks at least twice.

Regarding Mr. Donegan's oral submission on the murder of Mr. Seamus Ludlow and his suspicion about security forces involvement, would he agree the answer to his question is that because members of the security forces were involved in the murder, we will not get the answers? There is a whole murky field on the issue of the security services operating on both sides of the Border at the time.

We are not here to apportion responsibility.

Mr. Donegan has answered the question.

Mr. Donegan

There is a murky field.

Thank you, Mr. Donegan. It is very difficult for everyone here, especially, as Mr. McGuill said, with the constrictions in regard to the Ardagh v. Maguire case. Mr. Donegan’s remarks have been very illuminating and helpful.

Mr. Brendan Ludlow is a nephew of Seamus Ludlow. Perhaps he will give us some information on how the family felt.

Mr. Brendan Ludlow

I thank the sub-committee for the opportunity to attend and to speak. In 1972, two gardaí came to stay in our house and they were put up by my mother and father. This is how my mother and father treated the State. They put them up between 1972 and 1976. I joined the 27th battalion of the Defence Forces in 1977 and operated on the Border where Seamus was killed. I operated there from 1977 until 1999. This is how we treated the State. The State has treated us as described from 1976 to date; we have had nothing else but the same treatment from the Garda Síochána.

I ask Deputies Gerard Murphy and Peter Power to ask their questions.

Given Mr. Brendan Ludlow's experience as a member of the Defence Forces when the RUC supplied names to the Garda Síochána — a matter on which there was no follow-up by the force — does he believe there was a policy in the Twenty-Six Counties at the time to the effect that leads given by the RUC to the Garda would not be followed up or that the Garda would not interview people in the Six Counties? Does he believe that a political decision was made in this regard?

Mr. B. Ludlow


There was never any effort on the part of the security forces, the Garda Síochána or the Army in the South to interview people in the North.

Mr. B. Ludlow

I do not understand the question.

Does Mr. Ludlow believe the Garda was under instructions on foot of a policy not to interview the four people the RUC mentioned?

Mr. B. Ludlow


Does Mr. Brendan Ludlow believe that decision was correct or incorrect in the context of the period? The excuse has been made that the UK authorities were seeking other concessions, including the right to overfly the Republic's territory, at that stage. In that context, politicians down here made a decision based on the belief that if they sought rights in the Six Counties, they would have to concede rights to the British in the Twenty-Six Counties.

Mr. B. Ludlow


Does Mr. Brendan Ludlow believe that was a good policy decision?

Mr. B. Ludlow

What do I think of that policy decision?

As a member of the Defence Forces at the time, what did he think?

Mr. B. Ludlow

I did not join the Defence Forces until a year later, 1977.

Given Mr. Brendan Ludlow's understanding of the circumstances at the time, does he believe that was the only alternative?

Mr. B. Ludlow

I would say that was the alternative they came up with.

I would like to ask about something that has been discussed before. What is Mr. Brendan Ludlow's reaction to Mr. Justice Barron's finding that the Garda investigation, as a clinical investigation, was carried out properly?

Mr. B. Ludlow

For me, it was not carried out properly.

Would he make a distinction between the actual investigation and the manner in which the Garda behaved towards the family?

Mr. B. Ludlow

Basically, the Garda told my father nothing. They treated my aunts and uncles with the utmost disrespect.

There has been no contact whatsoever from the Garda about any of those issues since then.

Mr. B. Ludlow

There has been no apology and nothing has come forward at all.

When it became clear to the Garda that it had misinformed the family and that the initial allegations or rumours were incorrect, no efforts were made——

Mr. B. Ludlow


Thank you, Brendan, for coming in to assist us. We received a helpful document from your solicitor prior to our hearings which indicates that Brendan Ludlow's contribution will address the sense of betrayal experienced by the family. We can all understand that. The document states that your contribution will address how ordinary citizens fell victim to what appear to have been State policies which did not spare the most deserving. Could you elaborate on those State policies?

Mr. B. Ludlow

I do not understand the question.

The document from your solicitor states that your contribution will address how ordinary citizens fell victim to what appears to have been State policies — Irish State policies — which did not spare the most deserving, presumably your uncle.

Mr. B. Ludlow

I do not understand, but I think what you mean is my mother and father had put up two gardaí in the house. They were very helpful to the State. I was very helpful to the State when I took a job in the Defence Forces. From 1976, however, until 2006 we have been treated in the same way by the Garda Síochána, we do not get any information from them.

The document says there was a State policy. I am trying to find out what that policy was. Was there a policy——

Mr. B. Ludlow

Seamus, could you answer that question?

Mr. McGuill

That addresses Mr. Justice Barron's observation that security branch had a policy decision and that policy decision in effect meant that this crime was not investigated and this family was not protected. That is obviously something this committee will wish to examine. It is the classic big policy question, something we are anxious that the committee explore.

We will not do that immediately. We would like to stick with Mr. Brendan Ludlow and what he has to say.

The family obviously had issues with the Garda and the State from early on. Why, on a personal level, did you feel it appropriate for you to become a member of an organ of the State? The Garda is similar to the Army.

Mr. B. Ludlow

Why did I become a member of the Defence Forces?

Mr. B. Ludlow

I said to myself that my uncle had been shot and perhaps I could go out and stop other people from being shot. As that is how I felt, I decided to join the Defence Forces.

That is very admirable. Because of your knowledge of activities along the Border at that time, did you ever come to your own conclusion as to why the Garda would lie to you? What was their motivation behind lying to your family?

Mr. B. Ludlow

I think they did not want to know about the Ludlow family. The statement was made that it was political and he was shot by his own.

Why did they not want to investigate? Do you not know?

Mr. B. Ludlow


Thank you. You have been very helpful. We now come to Ms Briege Doyle, a niece of Seamus. Please tell us what you want to say.

Ms Briege Doyle

I am Mr. Jimmy Sharkey's daughter, I was reared in the same house as Seamus. I was only 16 when he was murdered. When you are 16, it was an awful thing for your uncle to die and it was worse that he was shot. I remember the special branch questioned me in a car on my own. I was taken into a car outside auntie Eileen's house and I was asked who did I think killed my uncle. I was only 16, I had not a clue. I did not know anything about the troubles in the North. He was a quiet man. I was reared with him — as was Jimmy — and he would not harm a hair on your head. It is sad to see a young man die like that. He did not deserve what he got.

Was he well liked by all of the family?

Ms Doyle

We loved him. I loved all my uncles but because we were reared with him he was like another father to us. Although there were ten of us he never scolded us. He was a lovely person. I was only 16 and could not understand who would shoot my uncle.

Where does Ms Doyle come in the family?

Ms Doyle

I am the fourth oldest.

Ms Doyle was obviously very young and impressionable at the age of 16 and this was probably her first experience of bereavement.

Ms Doyle


Can she recall whether there was much interaction with the gardaí coming to the house after the murder?

Ms Doyle

I recall them calling but when one was aged 16 one did not stand listening to them. I recall them taking me into a car on my own. I was afraid because I was only 16 years old and neither my mother nor father was with me.

Was that the only time they interviewed Ms Doyle?

Ms Doyle


Did they do that simply to see whether Ms Doyle had any information?

Ms Doyle

That was near the time of my uncle's funeral, shortly after he died.

The family has acknowledged that there was some contact during 1976 but can Ms Doyle recall whether there was any further contact with the Garda Síochána in 1979 or 1980?

Ms Doyle

People called to the house to see my mother or father, not me.

Was Ms Doyle unaware of the likely suspects involved in her uncle's death until the events of the mid-1990s?

Ms Doyle

I was led to believe that Uncle Seamus was shot in mistake for somebody else. Now I know that was not true.

Ms Doyle is very welcome and I extend my sympathies to her. Ms Doyle said that she was 16 years old at the time of her uncle's death and she was very close to him. One can tell from today's submission about Seamus that this is a case of the slaughter of the innocent. The more I listen to the family the more insight I receive. It is important that we understand what a nice, decent, kind person Seamus was.

Will Ms Doyle give us more information about the kind of questions the special branch officers asked her when she was 16 years of age and how she felt at the time?

Ms Doyle

I was afraid. I was in the back of the car and they were in the front. They asked me repeatedly who did I think killed my uncle. I said I did not know. They repeated the question and said the IRA shot him. I did not know what the IRA was. I knew nothing.

Years later when Ms Doyle discussed this with members of her extended family did she understand the significance of what the special branch officers tried to do when she was 16 years old?

Ms Doyle


Did Ms Doyle think they were digging deeper to see whether the family thought Seamus was involved in an internal paramilitary feud or something of that kind? Were they hinting at that?

Ms Doyle

They probably were but I was only a child. That is not to say it did not bother me but I did not understand it at the time.

When Ms Doyle reflects on Seamus's murder does she think this was a murky cover up by the security forces of this State and in the North? Does the family feel that this was a case of gross incompetence and mismanagement by the security forces and senior gardaí in respect of Seamus's case? What is Ms Doyle's considered view now?

Ms Doyle

I do not know.

Was it something more sinister than bad management and bad policing?

Ms Doyle

It was just bad policing. The police did not care.

It was mismanagement and gross incompetence in respect of the investigation.

We are not investigating that issue because Mr. Justice Barron said that it was competent and diligent.

May I continue to put another question?

We are not here to apportion responsibility under any circumstances.

I accept that; I accept that we have terms of reference.

Another insight from today, which many people will not necessarily have tapped into previously, concerns the messages that were put out on the night of Seamus Ludlow's murder. It was suggested then that the loyalists and members of the security forces, whoever they were, who killed Seamus were involved in some kind of drinking spree whereas, from the family's perspective, that was not the case.

Ms Doyle


It is important that is made public, given that many people were given impression that those who murdered Seamus were on a drinking spree and that his murder happened only by accident. We need to go into all those questions. That seems to be the family's considered view as well.

I thank Briege Doyle for her evidence. I know it has not been easy for her, but we appreciate her coming here to give evidence.

We will now hear from Mr. Jimmy Sharkey, who is a nephew of Seamus Ludlow. I welcome him to the meeting.

Mr. Jimmy Sharkey

I thank the sub-committee for inviting us here today. I also thank Mr. Justice Barron for compiling his report, although it has left us with many unanswered questions. We hope that some of those questions will be addressed today, but I must reiterate that the only proper forum in which those can be addressed is an independent public inquiry. That is our bottom line, nothing less and nothing more.

I will go back over what Kevin Ludlow and Eileen Fox said about the informer thing. The first time I ever heard about that was when Mr. Justice Barron told us about it at a meeting with him. I do not have a clue where that came from. It is stated on page 18 or 19 of the report that it came from a "source", but Mr. Justice Barron did not tell us who that source was.

Briege Doyle said she was questioned by the Garda Special Branch in the back of a car. I, too, was twice questioned in the back of a car by Special Branch officers. On the first occasion, they took a softly softly approach, as they tried to get to know what I knew and things like that. The second time, they took a more hardline approach when they asked me who I thought killed Seamus. They kept saying that it was the IRA, but I said I did not think it was the IRA. When I mentioned to them that I thought the SAS or a loyalist group killed him, one particular garda got very agitated about that. He kept pointing and gesturing to me in the back seat saying things like, "You know f-ing well who killed Seamus Ludlow. You tell us it was the IRA".

I did not get agitated about that because I knew what these guys were up to. Their whole persona and body language told me a different story. I was probably more streetwise than Briege Doyle, so I knew about being taken into a car with strange people. I knew what was happening in the north of Ireland at that time, with loyalist groups, the IRA and the SAS operating along the Border. However, that was the line of questioning from the gardaí. They did not want to hear anything about loyalist groups or the SAS; all they wanted to hear about was the IRA.

The reason for that, I believe, is that it suited the climate at the time. As the IRA was a threat to this State at that time, anything that the gardaí could use in their armoury to fight against the IRA had to be used. Here was a family, a member of which was killed, but the gardaí did not care about that — they had no interest in that whatsoever — as they were using it as a political means in the war against the IRA.

Of course, we lived in an area that was close to the Border — the nearest point to the Border was probably two miles away — and there was a lot of loyalist and republican activity on the Border at that time. Numerous killings took place. As this was six months after the bombing in Dundalk, security was high in the area.

Those people came down from Belfast that night. They did not come down to kill Seamus. I know who they came to kill. Mr. Justice Barron was very interested to know where I got that person's name. I would not tell him and have no intention of giving that name here today. I will give it when a proper forum is set up. I did not tell the Garda at the time who that person was.

The people involved would not have taken the chance of driving into a hotbed such as Dundalk town or even into County Louth. It would be like us going to the Shankill Road to kill someone. One has to know where one is going. These guys, two members of the British security forces, were in the town that night, in the car, heavily armed. As their target did not appear, they picked up Seamus. It could have been anyone, but they killed him.

As a member of the Ludlow family, I can accept that Seamus was a victim of the fall-out of the Troubles in the North, but I cannot accept the lies and deceit which the Garda has spun for 30 years and which it is still spinning. It has not even apologised. When I started all this, I was followed by gardaí. They asked me what I knew and so on. The Garda has a lot to hide.

When the journalist came to me with the information, he did not have a clue who killed Seamus. He was told by a Garda source that it was fellows from Comber-Dundonald direction. He did not believe that. He asked me who I thought killed Seamus, and I said I thought it was the SAS. He said this was wrong, that a Garda source had told him who it was, and that the Garda had known this for a long time, perhaps 20 years. The garda who gave the journalist that information was one of the gardaí who questioned me in the car.

I also met that garda in 1978 in the Derryhill Hotel in Dundalk where I was at a meeting. He recognised me in the hotel toilet and addressed me by name. I asked him how he was and he said he was okay. I said to him that I did not think he would know who I was. He said he did know and that in his job he had to know who I was. I said to him that if he knew who I was, could he tell me who killed Seamus Ludlow. He said I knew effing well who killed him and he then walked out the door.

Joe Tiernan told me that he thought it was loyalists from the Portadown area who killed Seamus and he gave me a list of names which I handed over to the Garda. I had the name of the driver of the car that night, but I did not hand it over. The committee should not ask me why, but I did not hand it over.

I will now fast-forward 20 years to when I met the head of the gardaí in Dublin who had charge of the case. I met him in the Ardboyne Hotel in Navan. I was on my own. He asked me about the case and told me that the names I passed on were not those of the people involved. I asked him if he knew the names of those involved. He said he did and that they were known for a long time. He was able to tell me the car those people were in that night, where they were seated in the car and the conversation that went on in the car that night. About three weeks later I met him again in the car park of the Garda station in Balbriggan. It was a cordial meeting and we certainly got to know each other. He said I might as well forget about it, since the names I had handed over were not the correct ones. That is what he said. It was around that time that I produced another name and handed it to him. His face went white. He asked me where I had got it but I would not tell him. Personally, I feel it was from then on that the case took off.

The gardaí involved said we had to deal with the families, taking those boys in to see if they had any other information. It was then that they started to meet us in the house. They met Kevin Ludlow and me there, as well as the mother. Of course, they were gathering intelligence all the time and we were given only so much. We were not getting very much back. They did not tell us at that time who had killed Seamus Ludlow and it was the garda with whom I was in the car who told me that the Garda Síochána had that information. Then the case took off and they started to interview different branches of the family, including the Sharkeys, the Donegans and the Ludlows. He told us he would come back and tell us everything, but he did not do so. I did not believe him, but I could not say that to the rest of the family.

The case took off at that time and people were arrested in the North of Ireland and England. Someone liaised with me and told me that the people in question were being interviewed in Castlereagh. I met them in the car park of the Fairways Hotel one Saturday afternoon. They kept saying to me that the interviews were going well enough but that the suspects were not saying very much. Two were talking and two were not. The worst that they thought I would get out of it was a file going to the DPP. I think a decision had been made that a file would be sent to the DPP and that they would not prosecute the suspects. They were obviously protecting whomever they had been protecting from 1976. I felt they would not come back and say the suspects would be charged, even though two of them had implicated themselves in the murder. I ask why those two were not charged and that if one charges two, why does one not charge the other two? It opens a can of worms.

In general, the Garda Síochána's behaviour towards us over 30 years has been nothing short of terrible. It has been a terrible experience for us all and even harder for Kevin Ludlow, Eileen Fox and Nan Sharkey. It is also hard for the rest of us at times. I was not surprised that the Garda did that or that the State acted as it did. They have done so in similar cases, including the Monaghan and Dublin cases and, as we will see, that of Dundalk. They simply did not care. The only way that one will ever get answers is through an independent inquiry — it must be an inquiry. That is all I have to say.

I thank Mr. Sharkey for that very full account.

I, too, thank Mr. Sharkey for that very clear account. How old was he when Mr. Ludlow died?

Mr. Sharkey

I was 21.

Therefore, Mr. Sharkey would have been absolutely aware of everything that was going on.

Mr. Sharkey

Yes, but I was trying to get on with my life. Events were unfolding in the North of Ireland and I was aware of them. I was more streetwise, but I was aware.

Where was Mr. Sharkeyliving at the time?

Mr. Sharkey

I was living at home.

Was the rumour out from the beginning that Mr. Ludlow had been murdered by the IRA? Was there awareness in the community about it, or were rumours spread, or was it just something that the gardaí said to Mr. Sharkey?

Mr. Sharkey

It was something that the gardaí said to me, especially the second time when I being interviewed in the car. The second time, I was put into the back seat of a car for nearly two hours. I was not taken to the barracks. I was questioned, which in itself can be very hostile. They did not mention the IRA the first time, but they did the second time. I think that once the gardaí were satisfied that some of the Ludlow family — not all of the family, but certain members such as Kevin Ludlow here — believed that it was the IRA, then they were happy enough. In general, the people who lived around Thistlecross and Ravenshill in Dundalk were listening to what the Garda were saying and what was in the paper.

Was Mr. Sharkey's view that the gardaí had misbehaved, that they had misinformed him and that they were also blackening Mr. Ludlow's good name?

Mr. Sharkey

Yes. They were blackening his good name for a reason. I had a good idea that they had a reason for it, but at that time I had no clue what the reason was. The family had not had any contact with the Garda before this. The Garda Síochána is the law in this State and we would have respected the Garda, but the gardaí had no respect for us. I still cannot understand why they were so hostile to us.

Has Mr. Sharkey a better idea now?

Mr. Sharkey

Yes I have.

Why does Mr. Sharkey think that the Garda Síochána did not pursue the investigation when there was firm information and evidence to follow?

Mr. Sharkey

In 1976 or 1979?

In 1979. Mr. Justice Barron came to the conclusion that they did all they could in 1976, but they had substantial information to follow in 1979. Would Mr. Sharkey agree with that analysis?

Mr. Sharkey

No. The failings lie in 1976. If the committee members look three years further on to 1979, then they are missing the whole thing. They are not seeing the wood for the trees. In 1976, the Garda probably did not know who killed Seamus Ludlow as they did not have enough concrete information, suspects and so on, but they knew the IRA did not do it. There were only two groups carrying out killings at that time — apart from the SAS, which came on the scene around that time — and they were the republicans and the loyalists. The Garda would have known that the loyalists were involved in the bombings in the town in December 1975, six months before Mr. Ludlow was killed. They had to be channelling their intelligence elsewhere, but they kept a spin on the incident the whole time that it was the IRA, for the reasons that I outlined earlier.

Does Mr. Sharkey believe that the Garda Síochána deliberately chose not to pursue the investigation in 1976 and 1979?

Mr. Sharkey


Can Mr. Sharkey elaborate on why he believes that?

Mr. Sharkey

In 1976, when they ran into the sand, they did not come back to us with what they had been told. They did not come back to us and say: "This is what we have been told." They kept up this spin that it was the IRA all the time. That is all I ever heard.

Moving forward to 1979, when the gardaí received the information, they drove to Belfast. They had to pass our house on their way back to Dublin. They had the names. It was for a reason. It was probably due to the Cabinet at the time. One must remember who was in power in 1976 and what their agenda was. That is what I think should be considered.

But that was in 1979.

Mr. Sharkey

I know, but I am going back to 1976.

We do not want to apportion responsibility now. We want to stick to the policy issues, Deputy Costello.

Mr. Sharkey

With all due respect, I think that is what the feelings were in 1976. The information was gathered over a period. We had a meeting with the ombudsman in the North of Ireland. She told us there was intelligence information from early 1977. The question must be asked whether that was passed on to the Garda Síochána in Dundalk. I believe it was. It would have been passed on to certain gardaí and probably also to Garda Headquarters. However, the information was confined and only started to leak out after a while.

In early 1976 there was no full presentation by the Garda Síochána. Up to the present day, there is no trace of where his clothing went, where the bullets were sent and matters like that. The gardaí failed twice. They had chances to do their job in 1979 and 1998 but they did not do it. The only way we will ever know why they did not do so is through an independent inquiry.

Mr. Sharkey stated he withheld from Mr. Justice Barron the name of a person he thinks the assassins intended to assassinate. Has other information not been presented to Mr. Justice Barron? For example, the information that the ombudsman had further information about 1977, to which Mr. Sharkey referred, does not seem to have been available to Mr. Justice Barron. Are there other issues which Mr. Sharkey felt should be withheld because a public inquiry is the way to proceed, or for any other reason?

Mr. Sharkey

Mr. Justice Barron does not mention the ombudsman in the North of Ireland having intelligence. It was there in the form of RUC special branch intelligence. Again, this is where a public inquiry would come in. Given that Mr. Justice Barron's report was held in private, we do not know what he heard or from who he heard it. We cannot turn around in one year's time and go back to a private inquiry — it must be a public inquiry. We must be able to ask the questions we have been waiting 30 years to ask.

To answer the Deputy's question, it is hard to know what evidence Mr. Justice Barron heard. He was very coy when I asked him anything. He had his way around my questions. However, when, during the meeting he had with us, he wanted to know whether I had the name of this man, he kept asking me from where I got the name and how I came by it.

Mr. Justice Barron did that.

Mr. Sharkey


We are not considering how Mr. Justice Barron conducted his inquiry.

No, we are not and I do not propose to do so. I have a further question for Mr. Sharkey. What happened with regard to the coroner's inquiry?

Mr. Sharkey

That was part of what I consider to be a cover up. The aim was to keep the family away from the inquest.

Was any attempt made to contact the family?

Mr. Sharkey

No. There was contact with Mr. Kevin Ludlow and there seemed to be a belief that once he was present, their job was done. However, he was unable to be there. The inquest was held without any of us there and without a legal team to represent us. That answers everything.

Does Mr. Sharkey believe this was deliberate?

Mr. Sharkey

Everything was deliberate; it was all a plan. We were to believe it was the IRA. This was the information being thrown out.

When Mr. Sharkey says it was deliberate, is he referring to the Garda?

Mr. Sharkey

Yes, and the State.

Is he also referring to the coroner?

Mr. Sharkey

No, I do not believe the coroner would have known.

We should not attribute blame or assign criticism to individuals.

Mr. Sharkey

I was told by the Garda that he was sloppy.

That is not acceptable. There should be no such comments about individuals.

Mr. Sharkey

I am only saying what I was told.

I ask Mr. Sharkey to cease making any direct criticism of an individual who can be readily identified.

Let us withdraw the reference to the coroner. Mr. Sharkey has stated that he believes the State and Garda were deliberate in handling the matter in the fashion they did.

Mr. Sharkey


I thank Deputy Costello. I apologise to Mr. Sharkey but I must ensure that we remain within our terms of reference and what we are permitted to do. I understand the frustration he may feel in this regard.

Mr. Sharkey

I most certainly am not frustrated. I merely point out that I was told it was the first time the coroner——

I ask Mr. Sharkey not to say any more on this. He should continue without any reference to this matter.

I thank Mr. Sharkey for his detailed and clear account. Was he interviewed by the same personnel on the two occasions to which he referred?

Mr. Sharkey

No, I was interviewed by different people.

Is it Mr. Sharkey's opinion that those members of the Garda were sent on instructions to obtain certain information from him or to create a certain situation? Does he believe they were people with full information on the matter?

Mr. Sharkey

They were probably sent to see what I knew. On the first occasion, I was asked who I believed killed Seamus and whether he had ever told me about a falling out with anybody or if he had ever been threatened by anybody. I said he had not. There was an entirely different approach on the second occasion. At that stage, the SAS had crossed the Border in the famous incursion at Flagstaff. When I told them I believed the SAS was responsible, they — one in particular — became very agitated.

Were written records taken by the gardaí concerned during these discussions?

Mr. Sharkey

Yes, on both occasions they wrote on an A4 pad. I was not asked to sign anything and would have refused to do so.

Can Mr. Sharkey recall whether reference was made or suggested during those two instances that his family had been directly involved in the killing?

Mr. Sharkey


No such reference was made?

Mr. Sharkey


I wish to refer to another matter that has not been raised today and about which I seek clarification from the family. Reference is made on page 62 of the report to the mysterious occurrence whereby an anniversary mass is celebrated every year for Seamus in Staffordshire in England. I understand this continues to be the case. Has there been further research as to who arranges this mass each year? Mr. Justice Barron does not seem to draw any conclusion on this in his report.

Mr. Sharkey

We have no idea who requests this mass. I did not know anything about it until told by Mr. Kevin Ludlow.

Mr. K. Ludlow

I spoke to the priest there. It was not in the book of the list of the dead. Still, the mass has been said.

I note that the first mass was celebrated one month after Seamus's death.

Mr. K. Ludlow

That was the month's mind.

A mass is celebrated each year. Mr. Kevin Ludlow does not know who arranges it.

Mr. K. Ludlow


Very well.

The other three members have brief questions. Deputy Power was the first to indicate that he wished to contribute.

Mr. Sharkey, along with his colleagues, has asked us to recommend that there be a public inquiry. To enable us to make or consider that decision, can he supply the name of the garda who questioned him in the car to the committee's legal adviser? He has not revealed this name to date. While I am not asking him to name names publicly now, is he in a position to reveal that name?

Mr. Sharkey


Perhaps he can do so after the meeting today.

Mr. Sharkey


Mr. Sharkey noted that he was streetwise in 1976. Given the nature of the Troubles, were most young men living in County Louth streetwise like himself in respect of safety and security in the area, the question of loyalist paramilitaries, people crossing the Border and shootings and bombings?

Mr. Sharkey

Possibly, yes. However when I say "streetwise", we were going to dances and so on and——

Was Mr. Sharkey always conscious of his safety and security?

Mr. Sharkey

Yes I was.

Was Seamus similarly conscious?

Mr. Sharkey

No. When Seamus got into the car that evening with those men, he would have seen them as——

He simply took them on good faith.

Mr. Sharkey

Yes. He would have thought——

That was his nature.

Mr. Sharkey

——that those four chaps would take him home.

I have three time-related questions. Did the meetings in Ashbourne and Balbriggan take place in 1995?

Mr. Sharkey

In 1997.

In both cases.

Mr. Sharkey


Like Deputy Peter Power, I believe it would be helpful if Mr. Sharkey passed on through the solicitor the names of the gardaí whom he met. Mr. Sharkey stated that he had the name of the driver of the car. When did he acquire that information which surprised the Garda at the time? Was it long before that?

Mr. Sharkey

It was probably approximately a year to six months beforehand.

That was in 1976.

Mr. Sharkey

No, that was in 1996.

I beg Mr. Sharkey's pardon. He also mentioned that he believed the people involved came to target a particular individual and that he has the name of that individual. When did he come into possession of that information? I am aware that Mr. Sharkey is not prepared to disclose it.

Mr. Sharkey

At approximately the same time.

It was in or around 1996.

Is Mr. Sharkey prepared to give the legal team the name of that individual?

Mr. Sharkey

No way.

All right.

Can Mr. Sharkey give the reason as to why not?

Mr. Sharkey

I will do so if a proper forum is established.

Is the driver's name in accord with the name in the report?

Mr. Sharkey


Are there any items that anyone believes should be raised before we conclude? I do not want the family members to leave thinking that while they wished to make a point, they did not get the opportunity. Has Mrs. Sharkey anything further to say?

Mrs. Sharkey

I thank everyone present for being so good and kind.

I thank Mrs. Sharkey for her kind comments. The sub-committee wishes to thank the family for helping us in our hearings, in our examination of the Barron report as well as the whole question of the inquests and relatives being informed of them. The Dáil and Seanad have asked us to examine these matters and the family's contribution has been most helpful. It is a good starting point from which we can ask further questions of other relevant people. We are grateful to the family for attending the sub-committee today. While I do not know whether the family wishes to attend the hearings over the next few days, it can be arranged for those who wish to so do. Mr. Ray Treacy, the clerk to the committee, will organise it through the family's solicitor. Does Mr. McGuill wish to make any concluding comments?

Mr. McGuill

We will file further submissions dealing with some of the points raised by members. I will liaise with Mr. Mohan in respect of the names. We will provide the committee with some names now but will identify the appropriate unnamed portions and provide the committee with names that will be helpful to it when we read the transcript. I will do so through Mr. Mohan.

The sub-committee will now suspend and resume at 2 p.m. to hear presentations from Justice for the Forgotten and British Irish Rights Watch.

Sitting suspended at 12.30 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.

The sub-committee will hear from two groups this afternoon, Justice for the Forgotten and the British Irish Rights Watch. I welcome the representatives of Justice for the Forgotten, Ms Margaret Urwin, its director, and Mr. Cormac Ó Dúlacháin, counsel for Justice for the Forgotten. I thank them for forwarding their written submission and invite them to make an oral presentation.

Mr. Cormac Ó Dúlacháin

I thank the Chairman. On my own behalf and that of Ms Margaret Urwin and Justice for the Forgotten, we greatly appreciate the opportunity to appear at this hearing. There is a continuation of issues arising through the various Barron reports, including matters arising out of these reports relating to the murder of Seamus Ludlow, that raise issues of concern to the families of the Monaghan and Dublin bombings of 1972 and 1973 and the victims of other atrocities.

Mr. Greg O'Neill may join us shortly. He has been detained on a visit to the McEntee inquiry, which was established on foot of a recommendation of this committee and will conclude its work in the next few weeks. If Mr. O'Neill walks in, it is a fact that he has been delayed and he hopes to be here.

We appreciate that. I thank Mr. Ó Dúlacháin.

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

In relation to our submission, I do not intend to repeat what was put in writing but I want to highlight a number of key points, the whole area in respect of the availability of files, the non-accounting for files, missing files, missing exhibits and material no longer recoverable. That is a common trend emerging in relation to all the atrocities during the 1970s that Mr. Justice Barron has been asked to investigate. It begs a question that has not been addressed or answered in the latest Barron report, that whether what is missing is the result of general maladministration over the years or is particular to these atrocities. From the Barron report, we are not able to assess whether the documents, exhibits and files that are missing are part of a larger number of exhibits or investigation files that are in turn missing or someone has selectively gone through the archives and moved material particular to these inquiries.

It appears that this is not a question that Mr. Justice Barron can ask because from the report it appears that in so far as a search for documents has been conducted, the actual physical and manual search has been entrusted to the authorities who have those documents. In other words, as far as we know, no member of the Barron team has physically entered the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform or the headquarters of the Garda Síochána or the technical bureau to try to establish exactly in what context these exhibits and files are missing.

Members may have questions in relation to the issues surrounding files. The most important issue for us arising out of the Ludlow report, aside from issues that are very particular, personal and close to the family of Seamus Ludlow, is one of great public concern that relates to the events of January and February, and early 1979. It relates to the circumstances in which information provided by the RUC to the Garda and invitations to interview suspects in Northern Ireland were not taken up.

The issue is broader than the investigation into the murder of Mr. Seamus Ludlow. The same matter arose in the report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings. Page 84 of that report refers to information received from CID:

On 12 January 1979, two Garda detectives from Dundalk had a meeting at Portadown RUC station with two CID officers. One of the latter said he had received information that Joseph Stewart Young, Samuel McCoo and James Somerville — all members of the Mid-Ulster UVF — were involved in the bomb attacks on Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk.

When we consider how the Garda Síochána responded to information about Mr. Ludlow that it received at the beginning of February 1979 and that information was also received on the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings, the question arises once more of pursuing suspects in Northern Ireland identified by the RUC. In circumstances not explained or not yet known but on its own initiative, the RUC volunteered information in the early months of 1979. In the case of Mr. Ludlow, the RUC had this information in 1977 and in respect of the Dundalk and Dublin-Monaghan bombings, it may have had the information as early as 1976. The same issue arises from two separate communications from the RUC. In so far as the committee is to consider this aspect of the Barron report, it may be opportune to revert to Mr. Justice Barron and view documentation on correspondence in January 1979 and internal memos concerning other inquiries.

The report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings states:

There was some further discussion in internal Garda documents concerning the desirability of interviewing the above-mentioned — particularly Somerville, who had not previously been interrogated in relation to any of the above bombings. There are references to further discussions taking place between the RUC and Garda officers concerned regarding the interviewing of the above-named suspects. One of the Garda officers wrote that "The RUC appear to be much more co-operative now than they were in 1975". However, it seems that no interviews took place.

The general issue of pursuing suspects in Northern Ireland was one that had to be addressed by the Garda Síochána at a policy level in early 1979. Reference has been made to general Garda policy, possibly dating back many years, of not interviewing in the North and not allowing the RUC to interview in the South. From inquiries conducted by Ms Margaret Urwin on behalf of Justice for the Forgotten, a number of instances have been identified in which gardaí travelled North or the RUC travelled South to conduct interviews in Garda stations. If there was a general Garda policy, it appears to have been subject to exceptions in certain cases. Nothing has emerged from documents in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform or any Department indicating such a policy existed.

Last week, Ms Urwin, Mr. O'Neill and I paid a visit to the national archives in London to examine state papers of the United Kingdom. With the assistance of the Pat Finucane Centre, Ms Urwin spent the week in London examining hundreds of files. We have asked for, but not yet received, a printed copy of one document from which it emerges discussions took place at an official level in early September 1975 between officials of the Irish Government and those of the British Government in which this specific issue arose and in which references were made to policy considerations. To put this in context, on page 129 of the Barron report into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings it is stated:

A meeting was held in London on 11 September 1974, at which the British side comprised the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, The British Ambassador to Dublin, the Permanent Secretary to the Northern Ireland Office, and other senior civil servants. The Irish side comprised An Taoiseach, the Minister for Local Government, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Irish Ambassador to London as well as senior civil servants of the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs."

That was the formal meeting which took place but it was preceded the previous week by a meeting solely involving civil servants. The British memo of that earlier meeting refers to observations of staff from the Irish Office of the Attorney General on the difficulties of conducting interviews in Irish police stations. We hope to be able to obtain a copy of the British minute of that civil service meeting during the next week or two.

It should be possible to trace minutes of a meeting between Irish and British civil servants in early September 1974, either in the files of the Office of the Attorney General here or in associated Government Departments, to investigate whether a briefing paper or note was prepared or to examine a minute of the meeting. It certainly appears that, outside of the Garda Síochána, at a formal policy level, decisions were made on whether, and to what extent, interviews should be allowed to be conducted in this State by the RUC.

An alarming issue raised in the Ludlow report is that the question of whether the matter was being pursued bounced back and forth between various Garda sections. Ordinary crime, C1, under Assistant Commissioner Fleming, was in pursuit of this issue by way of correspondence for a year, from April 1979 to March 1980. As a matter of routine it asked on a bimonthly basis what progress had been made and it received no report back. We know from the Ludlow report that Superintendent John Courtney had been Border superintendent until July 1979 and he returned to C4, the murder squad.

We know C3, the crime security section, which was the critical liaison with the Northern Ireland Special Branch and the RUC, is the first section with which the RUC communicated. The communication came from the Chief Constable's office directly into C3. Questions were raised as to whether notification that there were four suspects went straight to C3 and whether C3 was then involved in distributing that information. It is not as if it ended there with C3. The matter was returned to C3 in subsequent communications. The ordinary crime branch does not appear to have been aware of whether there was a policy that such suspects not be interviewed in Northern Ireland because it was still asking whether it would happen.

In terms of the Barron report, there are conflicts between Superintendent John Courtney, who said he raised the issue, and the senior officer in that section, who said the issue was not raised with him. It is important to establish to what extent C3 was aware of the issue arising in the context of the investigations into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings or the Dundalk bombing. It is our understanding that by 1975 there was a direct link between the RUC special branch and the crime and security division. A dedicated telephone line was in place so as far as communication was concerned, it did not involve going through exchanges or dialling long telephone numbers; there was a direct line from one security service to the other. Therefore, there would have been no difficulty in communicating a decision to pursue a request to interview people, had such a decision been made. Similarly, there seems to have been no difficulty in terms of physical correspondence.

The main issue — despite whatever complaints we may have regarding the failure of the British Government to co-operate with inquests or with this committee — is the failure of the Irish State to pursue suspects identified in the Ludlow murder case and the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings. No clear answer emerges as to why those matters were not pursued. We cannot see how that particular issue can be resolved unless it is submitted to the most intensive inquiry. This committee has been approached by various parties, including victims' groups, who have argued the case for a public inquiry. We believe that the issue is one of immense public concern which must be addressed and resolved and that the only effective way to do this is through the mechanism of a public inquiry. In that regard, the concerns the committee had 18 months ago do not arise because the Houses of the Oireachtas are involved in amending the legislation governing public inquiries, how they are conducted and the costs involved. We strongly support the Ludlow family in its submission that matters arising from the Barron report justify the setting up of a public inquiry.

The question arises as to whether there was a general policy in place of not allowing members of the RUC to conduct interviews in this State. In that context, our submission refers to the evidence of Mr. Patrick Livingstone, who was living in Dundalk in December 1975. He refers to circumstances in which he was arrested in Dundalk and interviewed in the local Garda station by three RUC special branch officers — a chief inspector, an inspector and a sergeant. We can supply further details on this matter to the committee if necessary. It certainly appears that from September 1976, officers in Dundalk Garda station were not aware of any prohibition on the RUC conducting interviews on that premises. Perhaps the gardaí felt they could provide this facility for the RUC but could not ask for the favour to be returned. Ms Urwin may wish to elaborate on some of the points.

Ms Margaret Urwin

The Garda explanation, as published in the Barron report, suggested that the suspects could not be pursued because the RUC may have sought reciprocity. Mr. ÓDúlacháin outlined the case of Mr. Livingstone, who was interviewed by three RUC officers in Dundalk Garda station in December 1975, around the time of the Dundalk bombing, in the absence of a member of the Garda Síochána. The evidence he allegedly gave during that interview was the sole basis for his conviction in a Diplock court in Northern Ireland in May 1977. Two gardaí attended but were not called upon to give evidence at the trial, which lasted only a few hours.

On the other hand, the Barron report on the 1972 and 1973 bombings and other contemporaneous atrocities discussed the murders of an engaged couple from County Donegal, Oliver Boyce and Bríd Porter, the families of whom appeared before this sub-committee last year. At that time, gardaí appeared to have received co-operation from the RUC and went to Belfast on 14 March 1973 to interview three suspects in the presence, I believe, of the RUC. Apparently, they also took blood samples from the three Belfast suspects and on the following day interviewed a fourth suspect in Derry. Here are two cases of gardaí going to the North to interview suspects for crimes carried out in the Republic and of RUC officers travelling south to interview a suspect with regard to a crime committed in Northern Ireland.

Thank you, Ms Urwin.

Mr. Justice Barron came to the conclusion that the Garda inquiry was satisfactory in the circumstances of the day. He also concluded that a policy existed, either at Garda or political level, which considered that a dangerous precedent would be set by interviewing suspects in an RUC station and vice versa. However, the examples supplied to us indicate that there were exceptions to that policy. That is a difficulty for us because we cannot clearly say whether such a policy existed at that time and, if so, whether it was an internal Garda policy based on the security situation or a political one arising from wider implications. Is it the case, when the examples of the exceptions are examined, that police forces on both sides of the Border may have drawn distinctions between different types of crimes and that the policy or directive was in force for any matter associated with subversive situations but did not apply to ordinary circumstances?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

In the Livingstone case it was viewed as subversive. Bríd Porter and Oliver Boyce were also viewed as having subversive connections. Those are subversive examples as opposed to a murder inquiry, which would fall within ordinary branch business, for example, a murder by a family or neighbour or a dispute outside a pub. A footnote on page 79 of the Barron report refers to Garda practice and a directive issued in November 1953. It is dangerous to assume that this 1953 directive was in operation in 1976. By the end of 1974 formal procedures had been agreed on the exchange of intelligence and Garda-RUC co-operation, and these had arisen as a result of what were referred to as the Baldonnel panels. By the end of 1974 new procedures governed mutual co-operation on security and investigations and distinguished between co-operation at a Border level between local divisions on each side of the Border and the responsibilities of the various command structures whether C3 or elsewhere.

The Barron report does not refer to that formalisation of the manner of communications and it does not seem that Mr. Justice Barron has seen the fruits of whatever formal agreement was put in place at the end of 1974. Knowing that there were formal structures for regular review of security matters between the Garda and the RUC we are not aware whether at any of those meetings that may have taken place from 1975 to 1977, the murder of Seamus Ludlow or any other atrocity was raised. While we know there was a structure for communication between the Garda and the RUC and for regular reviews and discussions on security matters, it is not referred to or exhibited in the Barron report.

Ms Urwin

I might add, co-operation existed not just between the Garda and the RUC but also between the Irish and British Governments, and the British Government pushed hard for the Irish Army to co-operate directly with the British army in 1974. The Irish Government, the Defence Forces and the Garda resisted this. There was a close and ongoing co-operation and we have seen the papers for this year and last year in the National Archives in London so we are aware that formal structures had been put in place before Seamus Ludlow was murdered.

I accept there is no consistency between the examples, but one should consider the times people lived in and how the relationships between police forces and governments could change from day to day. Is it possible that there was a general policy of co-operation but that if tensions were high, if there was a perception that such co-operation could be seen in the wrong light in either of the jurisdictions, each side would pull back from co-operation?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

We have not seen the UK papers for 1977 or 1978. That emerged from our viewing of the papers for 1974 and 1975 and we have not had the benefit of seeing the UK papers for 1977 or 1978. Two things are apparent from the papers from 1974 and 1975. First, before the Dublin-Monaghan bombings the UK was upset at the attitude the Government took to co-operation in security matters. The coalition Government was of the firm view that co-operation should take place on a formal police force basis but our papers show that the British Government was livid because it wanted formal structures and communication on an army-to-army basis. That was a major source of conflict in the months preceding the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and throughout the summer of 1974.

Second, the British were aware that security issues raised delicate political issues in this jurisdiction. The Government discussed security meetings but the British Government sought to upgrade them to security conferences. The actions of the Garda and the way the relationships between the forces were managed raised political issues and were discussed at a political level. However, we do not know what political direction was given following the events of 1974 or whether it was the subject of any changes. In 1979 the then Minister for Justice, Mr. Collins, expressed the view that disclosures made early in that year may also have been politically motivated in the sense of being part of a bargaining game for security initiatives. We have seen neither the Irish diplomatic or intergovernmental papers nor the UK papers for 1978.

In his opening remarks Mr. Ó Dúlacháin referred to missing files, exhibits and many other things central to progress in this matter. If a public inquiry were to be put in place, does he think something would emerge that is not known at present?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

Our experience has been that information emerges the more formal an inquiry becomes. It will be interesting to learn from the report of Mr. MacEntee's commission of investigation if he has been able to recover documentation within the State that Mr. Justice Barron was neither able to identify nor obtain.

There are two elements to a public inquiry. Research is first undertaken for information that exists in the public domain and then that information is subjected to public scrutiny. Often in the course of that public scrutiny it becomes apparent that other documents have not yet appeared. For example, when we came before the joint committee to discuss the 1974 bombings, we were very critical of the then Fine Gael Government for effectively leaving the issue off the agenda from the end of 1974. The Sunday Business Post this Christmas, however, referred to further disclosures in British newspapers indicating that in April 1975, the then Taoiseach, Mr. Cosgrave, raised the matter with the British Government, a fact that did not emerge from a search of our own papers. It raises question of how thorough the search of departmental papers has been to date.

A formal inquiry, where people must swear on oath and where there are powers to trawl through departmental files and subject the findings to public scrutiny, is the only mechanism whereby we can at least guarantee to victims that all that could have been done was done. It is a public issue and concerns the public exercise of power. It is not related solely to the Garda, but to both how the Garda performs its functions and whether political decisions were made and whether they were justifiable.

I thank Mr. Ó Dúlacháin and Ms Urwin for appearing again before us. I compliment Ms Urwin for her ongoing work on behalf of the Justice for the Forgotten group. I know she took over this onerous role from another person, and I wish her well with it. The week spent in London must have been interesting.

The group has clearly spent time, money and resources in going to London to examine documents, and I wish to ask questions about this later. Have Irish State papers been examined from this period in so far as they are available? If so, have they thrown any light similar to the light shed today arising from the group's examination of documents in London?

Ms Urwin

My experience of examining Irish State papers is that the culture of secrecy here is far greater than in Britain. I have not yet had the chance to visit the National Archives on Bishop Street to look at the 1975 papers. I have been told by the senior archivist there that no files have been released by the security in Northern Ireland section of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. It appears strange that no files from 1975 have been released from that section of the Department. I believed that under the National Archives Act 1986, files either had to be disclosed or accounted for with regard to what is being withheld. I have not yet had a chance to examine what has been made available by the Department of the Taoiseach or the Department of Foreign Affairs. I will do so as soon as possible.

I thank Ms Urwin for that information. If what she says is the case, it is extraordinary. We as a committee could look into the matter, but that may be for our own private deliberations. If the 1974 meeting occurred, there may have been officials present from the Department of Foreign Affairs as well as the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Mr. Seán Donlon gave evidence before this committee with regard to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, and his Department was very assiduous in keeping records. It may be an avenue for this committee to explore.

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin mentioned the common thread of missing files in his submission, to which we drew attention in the report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Although there is a common thread, there is a difference here which might be commented on. In this case, it appears from the submissions of the Ludlow and Sharkey family earlier that there was virtually a complete fabrication or charade from the Garda to suggest that Seamus Ludlow was killed by the IRA because he was an informer. In this respect it is different from the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

I know submissions have been made by this group to the commission of inquiry under Mr. Patrick McEntee SC. Although the outcome is not certain, are the witnesses satisfied with the efficacy of the inquiry? Has it been efficient and successful in getting at the relevant documents and information?

That does not come within our terms of reference.

I ask for some latitude. The reason I ask this is if the commission is successful, it may be an avenue to be considered by this committee. Mr. Ó Dúlacháin is in a position to answer that.

We will have to leave that until Mr. McEntee reports.

Very well. My main question relates to the policy considerations Mr. ÓDúlacháin appears to have unearthed in his trawl through the English 1974-75 files and the possibility of a joint or agreed policy or mutual co-operation that I do not fully understand. Perhaps Mr. Ó Dúlacháin would articulate exactly what he discovered, the nature of the policy that may have been agreed at that meeting or series of meetings at official and political level? If those meetings took place, and if some form of protocol was agreed, that would be historically significant because it has not come to light before now. It would certainly be politically significant.

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

What we have seen is a snapshot. We have not had the file giving us a complete view of what occurred after the meeting between the two Governments in September 1974.

What about the meetings at Baldonnel?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

There were two meetings in Baldonnel, one early in 1974 and another in September 1974. What are referred to as the Baldonnel panels were established. Effectively they were expert groups trying to put in place procedures and protocols for mutual co-operation. They seem to have become operative some time in or about October 1974. There were meetings between the Garda Commissioner and the RUC Chief Constable which were police force only meetings at which the lines of communication between the two forces were clarified, in particular the lines at local divisional level and the lines at what might be regarded as a technical level in terms of direct communication between the ballistics and forensic departments North and South. In one respect that is obvious in the Ludlow report where there is communication from the data reference centre in Belfast straight back to the ballistics office in C4.

What we are not clear about is the exact detail of the protocols that were agreed. We are aware that they existed at different levels, that they related to matters such as communications, that for the purposes of ensuring secret communications the British Government supplied the Garda with the necessary equipment, and that it was willing to supply equipment to the Irish Army as well in terms of secure radio links and such matters. Quite an amount of detail was gone into. How that was put into practice from early 1975 onwards we do not know.

If such a protocol or mutual co-operation policy was in place at that stage, how can that be reconciled with its non-implementation in the Ludlow case where there was no co-operation and no going North to interview people even though there was an invitation?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

We cannot reconcile it. That is the issue that arises out of the report. There is no reconciling it. If a decision or minute had been recorded, it would lead one to why a decision was or was not taken. That is the issue that requires consideration.

We are talking about British state papers and the lack of availability of Irish State papers. Is there any evidence to suggest that such a protocol or agreed policy at governmental level and political level went somewhat beyond that, that it extended to a policy of non-prosecution of cases where the perpetrators of atrocities were in another jurisdiction, in other words, if they were north of the Border?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

What emerges from the discussions at what I call the civil servants' meeting in early September 1974 is that they were looking at the practicalities of all aspects from crime detection through to prosecution. The purpose of the entire exercise was to bring about prosecutions as if the Border were no obstacle. The whole objective of the agreement between the Irish and British side was that one would not end up with circumstances as arose in January-February 1979 where witnesses were not interviewed and a prosecution was not proceeded with.

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin concluded by saying that these matters require the fullest and most intensive inquiry and obviously he is carrying out his own inquiries in London. Since we are speaking essentially of documentation and having the power to obtain it from Departments, does the MacEntee inquiry established under the recently passed Commissions of Investigation Act provide an effective way of tracing this policy to find out if it existed and, if so, precisely what it was?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

No, documents often are a summary or a minute and are open to interpretation. The difficulty we have encountered with events in the early 1970s is that many of the people who could account for the documents, elaborate on them or discuss them are no longer with us. When one moves on to the Ludlow case in 1976 and particularly to 1979, many of the key players and those who can add to an inquiry in the matter are alive and are available. It is not simply a question of the collection of paper. It is the interpretation of that paper and establishing what has not been recorded on paper.

I am aware the delegation was in the Visitors Gallery this morning when the Ludlow-Sharkey family was helpful to us. Mr. Ó Dúlacháin will recall that members of the family were unwilling to speculate as to the motivation of the Garda to enter into what I earlier called a charade and a fabrication. Can Mr. Ó Dúlacháin speculate as to the motivation or was it a political direction?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

I have no view on the matter.

Deputy Costello has indicated that he has a brief question.

On the point raised by Deputy Power, the original protocol was arranged with C3 in 1953 approximately 23 years before the death of Seamus Ludlow. That required that any matter relating to a political investigation would be referred to C3. The conclusion by Mr. Justice Barron was that it was a decision made by the deputy commissioner charged with C3, Mr. Lawrence Wren. Would that not suggest that if he was following those protocols of 1953, as distinct from anything that might have arisen in 1974, that Mr. Justice Barron would be coming to what would be the logical conclusion, if following instructions?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

There is a logical conclusion which is that the matter in the first instance arose as a communication from what appears to be the special branch division within RUC headquarters and C3. The matter of disclosing the identity of suspects for the murder of Seamus Ludlow was raised in the first instance at that level. The issue was raised with C3 and it appears no instruction emerged from C1 not to pursue that line of inquiry. With regard to C1, eight or nine communications are from a distance. It is clear the local divisional office in Drogheda was not making any decisions about the matter and that either Superintendent Courtney went on a frolic or that a decision was made within C3. It is then a question of how large C3 was and what the process was at the time for making decisions. In that regard, Mr. Justice Barron's conclusion that a decision was made within C3 seems to be consistent with the structures after Baldonnel. It raises the question of whether the same decision was a general one which was then applied to the information emerging about those involved in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the bombings in Dundalk.

Would the conclusion still not be the same if, as stated on page 79 of the Barron report, Garda practice was outlined in a directive which no doubt would have been the directive that the person in charge of C3 would have been expected to have in the absence of any other? Unless there was another directive in place, the procedure would have been for the commissioner of the C3 section to make the decision on their own bat without reference to a higher authority.

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

That is a matter that has to be investigated. It may have been entirely consistent with the protocol in place from 1975 onwards that a decision of this nature had to be made either within C3 or above. It is not clear from the Barron report. There is a reference to Superintendent Courtney as a Border superintendent. It is not clear whether that was a new innovation that was also part of the structure from 1974 onwards, it was part of cross-Border co-operation, the Border superintendent designation had a longer existence or whether it was part of a structure.

It also appears very unusual that the assistant commissioner in C1 would not have been discussing the matter at some stage with the commissioner or assistant commissioner in C3. It is not as if they are separate police forces or that at the top level they do not engage, meet or discuss.

Does Mr. Ó Dúlacháin know if the directive was withdrawn at any time in the past 53 years?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

The formal 1953 directive.

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

No. We do not know.

There was a case in the DIRT inquiry where the Revenue Commissioners were operating under a directive which was analogous in so far as they did not do certain tests and follow up certain items because there was a directive in place. It will be interesting to hear from the Garda whether this directive was rescinded or withdrawn at any time.

Or whether it is still in place.

We will see.

Did Mr. Ó Dúlacháin give an impression to Justice for the Forgotten that he felt the bombs on the streets of Dublin in 1974 were planted to influence Government policy on the North? Did I understand this from his earlier comments or would that be the view of Justice for the Forgotten?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

If one starts at the other end, Gerry Collins speculates on whether the revelations made by the RUC in 1979 were politically motivated to obtain an advance in mutual security measures. It is clear from the British documentation that in early 1974 they were very concerned that the level and the means of co-operation they had wanted were not being agreed to. There are certainly references at a political level to the Irish simply not understanding what was needed. There was also a reference in a later document in 1974 reverting to 1972. There are references to lessons having been learnt last May and in December 1972. However, all this is in the context of political documents, there is nothing in the nature of any particular document that would point to any conspiracy or any non-political activity.

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

Not in disclosed files.

We will return to this matter in more detail next week. I thank the representatives——

I would like to make a brief point. We have the examples the representatives gave us of Patrick Livingstone and the Boyce and Porter situation where gardaí went North and members of the RUC came South. If the representatives have other examples of that happening in either direction, if would be helpful if they would tabulate them for us, particularly in regard to their discussions with gardaí.

In this report by Mr. Justice Barron there is recognition of co-operation and contact between the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Garda in regard to many ongoing issues on a fairly regular basis. That seems to be at variance with what we were told in relation to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in that regard. Have the representatives any comments to make on that? It struck me as being significant. I wonder whether I am reading something into this that is not there or do the representatives consider there is something in that?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

Certainly the impression was given to us in regard to 1974 that a discreet distance was kept by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and that a very limited level of reporting was done to it. As we have looked at other incidents, it appears the reporting and exchange of information was far more regular, particularly in regard to events around or concerning the Border or Border security. There is a difference certainly in this report from the view given of the amount of information that was being communicated to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, although where that was recorded in the Department remains a mystery.

Mr. Greg O’Neill

I would like to add supplementary information concerning a matter. In minutes of the ministerial meetings between the British and Irish Governments of 11 September 1974, the then British Prime Minister informed the then Taoiseach, Mr. Cosgrave, that under custody interim orders the authorities in Northern Ireland had detained a number of individuals whom they suspected of having been involved in the bombings. That is referred to in the Barron report on the 1974 bombings but there appears to have been no follow up. From the documentation we have seen there does not appear to have been a reciprocal southern-based security response to that information.

Thank you.

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

I wish to make one final point. Issues arose at previous hearings in regard to whether cases could be brought to the European Court of Human Rights. Justice for the Forgotten was involved in two such recent cases arising in regard to 1974, and 1972 and 1973. As part of those complaints we raised issues relating to the non-co-operation with Mr. Justice Barron, the Oireachtas committee and inquests. Both cases did not proceed as the European Court held they were inadmissible. One aspect in particular it highlighted, and relied upon in structuring its judgment, was the fact that neither the Barron inquiry nor the Oireachtas committee hearings were effectively statutory inquiries. They were not inquiries being carried out in pursuit of a statutory function.

I thank the representatives from Justice for the Forgotten for coming before the committee this afternoon. I am sure they will watch proceedings intently, as they have done previously, and we look forward to continuing to co-operate with them in the future.

I now welcome Ms Jane Winter, director of British Irish Rights Watch. Ms Winter has always co-operated with this committee and we are grateful to her for her submission. She came to Ireland especially for this meeting. I invite her to make her contribution.

Ms Jane Winter

It is always a great pleasure to be in Dublin. I am grateful to the sub-committee for allowing me to make the submission. I only intend to speak briefly so members can pursue whatever questions they have. British Irish Rights Watch is an independent, non-governmental organisation which has been monitoring the human rights dimension of the conflict and the peace process in Northern Ireland since 1990. I have been involved in the organisation since then.

It has been my misfortune to have had to study at close quarters the phenomenon of collusion which has, unfortunately, been a thread running throughout the conflict. It is also a thread that runs through the case of Seamus Ludlow. We have been advising his family since 1998 and we made a submission to Mr. Justice Barron in the course of his investigation.

We have three primary concerns about the murder of Seamus Ludlow, none of which has been fully satisfied by Mr. Justice Barron's report. The first and obvious concern is that nobody has been made amenable for his murder, although the identities of the alleged perpetrators have been known since at least 1977. Second, we are concerned that although the murder was ascribed to the loyalist paramilitary organisation, the Red Hand Commando, two of the alleged perpetrators, Fitzsimmons and Long, were both serving members of the Ulster Defence Regiment at the time. Clearly, that brings a large element of collusion into the murder.

Third, the murder seems to have been a serious cross-Border incursion but that does not appear to have been investigated or acted upon at the time. This, perhaps, feeds into some of the discussion that has just taken place about what policies were in place and what level of co-operation existed between the two jurisdictions.

It is our submission that the sub-committee should recommend a public inquiry under the 1921 Tribunals of Inquiry Act as the only way to get to the bottom of what happened to Seamus Ludlow. Although he worked hard and has produced a detailed report, Mr. Justice Barron had no powers to compel witnesses or the production of documents and he did not get many of the documents which he believed he needed. Seamus Ludlow's family had no opportunity, as they would have at a public inquiry, to scrutinise and challenge evidence that would be under consideration by such a tribunal. They did not have those opportunities in Mr. Justice Barron's investigation; they did not see what he saw and they were unable to comment on it or to ask him to ask for further documentation or further questions.

It is a matter of regret that Mr. Justice Barron was unable to answer some of the relevant questions pertaining to Seamus Ludlow's murder. He says he cannot explain the delay by the RUC between July 1977 and January 1979 in passing the names of the alleged perpetrators to the Garda Síochána. He was also unable to explain what he describes as a key question for his inquiry, namely, why, when the information was passed to the Garda Síochána by the RUC, it was not pursued. He also could not say who was responsible for making the decision not to pursue that information. I do not find his surmise particularly compelling, namely, that the reason was to prevent An Garda Síochána from being forced into a reciprocal relationship with the RUC. Whether one is convinced by it or not, it seems to me that it cannot possibly have been any sort of justification for denying justice to Seamus Ludlow. When somebody has been murdered he or she is entitled to an investigation in a democracy and, it seems to us, no consideration should stand in the way of that.

There are other matters that the judge could not explain. He was not able to say why Seamus Ludlow's family was not told about the information that was finally passed to the police. They had to find it out from a newspaper article many years later. He was not able to say why Kevin Ludlow was not informed about the inquest. He was not able to say why Kevin Donegan was forcibly abducted and questioned by the British army and questioned. Nor was he able to say what inquiries, if any, were made by the RUC about Fitzsimmons's car, which we believe was used in the attack.

Answers are also needed about the cross-Border incursion and about how it was possible for two serving members of the UDR to be, at the same time, members of the Red Hand Commando, and how common that was throughout the British army. Some of the papers that are coming to light now in the Public Record Office in London are beginning to suggest that this was a fairly frequent occurrence and something that was semi-tolerated by the British army, which is a shocking state of affairs. It was bound to lead to these sorts of incidents.

Nobody in authority has ever given the family of Seamus Ludlow the credit they deserve for having pursued this issue over the years. They did not involve us until 1998, as I said. They ploughed on on their own, doing their own detective work. If it were not for them there would have been no Barron report and this sub-committee would not be looking at the murder of Seamus Ludlow. They deserve to get the credit for having brought about that situation. It shows just how deeply his murder and its aftermath affected this family. I am sure this was demonstrated this morning, although I was not here. Their rights have been systematically ignored and they have been denied an effective investigation into Seamus Ludlow's murder, which they are entitled to under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In my written submission, I have laid out the benchmarks that the European Court has set down for what constitutes an effective investigation. In my view, a commission of inquiry would not suffice. It would not meet those benchmarks. In many ways, it would replicate the Barron investigation because it would take place behind closed doors without the proper involvement of the family. We believe there is only one step that can remedy the very long and dishonourable train of events that has flowed from the murder of this totally harmless and innocent man so many years ago, namely, to hold an open and transparent public inquiry under the 1921 Act, which will give the family the effective investigation they deserve and allow them perhaps to find some closure to the struggle they have been pursuing for so many years.

Thank you, Ms Winter. I call on Deputy Finian McGrath and Senator Jim Walsh, who have questions to pose.

I welcome Ms Winter and commend British Irish Rights Watch on its human rights work generally.

Ms Winter

Thank you.

It has been an important aspect of the peace process since 1990. My first question concerns British Irish Rights Watch which, it is stated, is an independent, non-governmental body working on human rights during the peace process. Is it Ms Winter's considered view that the organs and policies of both states at that time let Seamus Ludlow and his family down? Ms Winter mentioned Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights in this regard.

Ms Winter

In our view it is certainly a breach of Article 2 in that, to this day, there has not been an effective investigation which has produced prosecutions and the whole truth about what happened. It is difficult to know whether what happened was the result of policy, as was discussed earlier. It is my guess that it probably was because of other cases in which I have been involved but they have tended to be later cases. For example, if I think about the case of Patrick Finucane, the lawyer who was murdered in 1989, it was clear there were policies in place which meant that even though threats against his life were known by the authorities, he was not warned and not protected in any way and eventually he was murdered. Those policies did not just affect him but affected many other people. It has certainly been my clear impression that those policies did not come out of thin air; they were the product of policies which have been developing all the way through the conflict and took different forms at different points in time. I would be surprised if there were not policy considerations that led particularly to the non-pursuing of the information when it was handed over. There may well have been policy reasons for handing that information over in the first place, as Mr. Justice Barron has suggested, but I strongly suspect the reason that information was not pursued was because of policies that were in place and because people in positions of high authority were involved in decisions. Mr. Justice Barron was not able to make clear to us who made those decisions.

Basically Ms Winter is saying she suspects again the policy of 1989. She mentioned the Pat Finucane case and compared it with the Seamus Ludlow case in 1976. From her 15 years experience with British Irish Rights Watch and from her dealings with the different bodies, the statutory bodies and the community in the North, are Ms Winter's strong suspicions that it was a clear policy?

Ms Winter

That is certainly my suspicion but, unfortunately, the papers are not yet in the Public Record Office in relation to 1976. However, I would be surprised if we do not find rather similar documents to those from 1974 and 1975.

Ms Winter said collusion was the common thread. Will she expand a little on this?

Ms Winter

Over the 15 years I have been researching human rights violations, particularly in Northern Ireland but also in the Republic, it has become increasingly apparent that in Northern Ireland, in particular, there was very deep infiltration of paramilitary groups of all factions and that the intelligence services, whether army intelligence, special branch for the police or MI5, had a pretty clear idea of who was doing what to whom and who was responsible because they were collecting intelligence of a very high order and they were not using it for the legitimate purposes of prevention or detection of crime. It seemed almost to be an end in itself to understand what was happening, to know what was going on and, to some extent, to control it. A lot of individuals, as we have seen in Seamus Ludlow's case, were riding two horses both in the army and in loyalist paramilitary groups. However, it was not just individuals who were involved, like rotten apples in the barrel.

Ms Winter does not accept the rotten apple scenario which is often presented to parliamentarians and——

Ms Winter

No. There were many such rotten apples around.

There were so many, there must have been some co-ordinated plan.

Ms Winter

A great deal of information was being gathered but was not being used in a proper way which led to a number of unnecessary deaths and also deepened the length of the conflict which might well have been resolved much sooner had it not been for this primacy of intelligence which was apparently the policy of the day.

From Ms Winter's inquiries and investigations into Seamus Ludlow's case, will she tell us a little about the relationship between the UDR, for example, and the darker side of the security forces and the paramilitary forces? What type of information has she discovered, has her brief been broadened or has she discovered other issues which are relevant to this case?

Ms Winter

In particular, as I said earlier, there seems to have been a toleration of members of the regular army also being members of paramilitary groups. They obviously had access to weaponry, know-how and explosives. Many were part-time soldiers and were obviously spending part of their time in the army and part in paramilitary groups. However, there seems to have been very little true concern about this or attempt to eradicate it. Attitudes today are perhaps very different but at the time there seems to have been a great deal of tolerance for that sort of thing.

I believe there was also a degree of direction going on. I certainly think, in the case of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, that the bombs in Dublin were very sophisticated for their day and that outside help must have been given to the people who planted those bombs in their manufacture.

Ms Winter mentioned, in the section of her submission dealing with the Red Hand Commando — which, at the time, came under the umbrella of the UVF — that there was a strong link there between those two groups and the security forces in the North and that there was dual membership. Surely that has major implications, and is a major consideration, for people such as the Ludlows and for society in general.

Ms Winter

Indeed. We are finding, perhaps because we are moving further away from conflict and hopefully nearer to peace in Northern Ireland, that many loyalist families are coming to us and questioning the murders of their loved ones by other loyalists, whom they now believe may have been acting as informers for state agencies. This is an across the board problem. It goes very deep and affects many people.

Ms Winter stated that no one in authority has ever given the family of Seamus Ludlow the credit they are due for having pursued the failure of the police investigation. In effect, she is saying that the determination, guts and vision of the Ludlow family have seen matters reach the point at which they currently stand, namely, these hearings. Does Ms Winter agree that it is not acceptable that citizens of any state should have to undergo a nightmare of that kind? What are the broader implications for other citizens?

Ms Winter

I agree with the Deputy that it is not acceptable. The European Court stated strongly, in the cases of Jordan and others in 2001, that families should not be obliged to instigate a proper investigation when somebody is murdered and that it is absolutely the duty of the state to ensure that, in each and every case, there is a proper investigation.

When people hear about cases such as that involving Seamus Ludlow, it makes them wonder, in circumstances where nobody was brought to justice for murdering a member of their family, whether a proper investigation took place. The latter undermines people's confidence in the police, in the law and in the rule thereof. In society, it is unhealthy not to carry out these duties properly because it makes people cynical and lack faith in their system and in their country.

British Irish Rights Watch is an independent body. Who funds the body and how does it survive financially?

Ms Winter

We exist from hand to mouth. We are a registered charity and we are obliged to apply for grants to other charitable foundations that make such grants available. We receive money from a variety of different grant-making bodies.

So, funding is not made available by either the Irish Government or its British counterpart.

Ms Winter

In the Seamus Ludlow case — this is the only example I can think of where we have ever received any government money — the Irish Government gave us a small grant towards the cost of the research work we were carrying out.

The vast majority of funding comes from charitable and other sources.

Ms Winter

Yes. In addition, approximately 10% comes via individual donations fromlawyers, etc.

I thank Ms Winter for attending and for her submission to the sub-committee. She mentioned that she studied the phenomenon of collusion and her contribution illustrated that. She also mentioned that she found elements of collusion in this case. Can she be more specific in that regard?

Ms Winter

The only evidence of collusion of which I am aware is the evidence Mr. Justice Barron included in his report. I read Ed Moloney's articles when they first came out and I spoke to him at length about what he had found out and how he had gone about it. He also gave me information he was not able to include in his articles because of problems with libel laws and so on. However, we passed the information on to Mr. Justice Barron so that he would be aware of everything we knew.

Is Ms Winter's experience, on the basis of other issues she has examined, that the RUC could or should have examined that car, given that it became aware of the information early in 1977?

Ms Winter

The RUC should have done so. It was quite unusual for somebody to use his car for one of these attacks. More often than not, they would hijack a car specifically for the purpose, which suggested a degree of confidence on the part of the perpetrators that they could act with impunity and nobody would come after them. It does not appear that anybody came after them to examine the car. Mr. Justice Barron leaves us in ignorance of what happened in that two-year gap when the RUC apparently knew the names of the perpetrators. We do not know what investigations, if any, it carried out during that time. That is something else a public inquiry would want to find out.

Ms Winter is dismissive of Mr. Justice Barron's conclusion about the reason for the non-pursuit of the investigation and she does not find the reciprocity argument compelling because she reckons it was a policy issue. On the basis of her experience of dealing with other events, would the policy have been written down or would it have been understood? She stated it would have evolved based on experience.

Ms Winter

It is difficult to know. Some policies turn up in writing and are extremely detailed and explicit. Different organisations have different cultures. The Stevens III investigation into collusion in Northern Ireland said to me: "The Army writes everything down, Special Branch writes nothing down" and, therefore, it is difficult to know. If policies had been developed at governmental level, they would have been written down because they emerge eventually on the public record in one shape or form. I am not sure if there was an informal understanding between the RUC and the Garda. I would have expected, in the context of intelligence matters and high level officers, there would have been an agreed protocol but that does not appear to have emerged in Mr. Justice Barron's research.

In these circumstances, is it likely that such a policy would have been ring-fenced for the security forces or would it have involved the administrative strand?

Ms Winter

I am afraid I cannot answer that question. I would love to know the answer.

Ms Winter places significant emphasis in her submission to the sub-committee on the need for a public inquiry and she is dismissive of the possibility of a commission of inquiry. Why is that, given it would have powers of compellability?

Ms Winter

My main objection is that it would happen behind closed doors. The difficulty with that is if the person running such a commission is given false information but believes it to be true and it has been given to him or her in good faith, there is no possibility for somebody who knows different to challenge it. That is the value of a public inquiry and that is what we found with the Bloody Sunday inquiry, which has been much maligned. However, most of the relatives involved in the inquiry feel they understand what happened in a way they did not before the inquiry took place. This is because people had to give on oath evidence of their knowledge. Documents had to be not just disclosed to the tribunal but available publicly so that anyone who wanted to take issue with anything in the documents could do so and draw it to the attention of the tribunal. It is a much better fact-finding process than one that takes place behind closed doors. Mr. Justice Barron's report illustrates this because there are so many questions he was not able to answer.

The comparison with Mr. Justice Barron is probably not accurate because he did not have sworn evidence and powers to compel people. He depends on co-operation just as we do. I note the point Ms Winter is making in this regard. The issue is the absence of cross-examination, which is crucial.

Ms Winter

It is that and the involvement of the family. The European Court said that the family has the right to be involved to the level necessary to protect its own interests. It is the case in this instance that Seamus Ludlow's family have been excluded from many of the processes involved. This is the first time they have been able to attend and listen to any deliberation about their case other than the inquest. The first inquest was of no use and a second inquest had to be held. Even then the Barron report was withheld from the inquest. It was in the possession of the Government but it did not publish it until after the inquest, for reasons I do not understand. The Ludlow family have been lied to over the years in a very distressing and divisive way, which they did not deserve. Seamus Ludlow's reputation has been wrongly slurred. He was a completely harmless and innocent man to whom justice was never done. A process involving the family is crucial to put right the injustice they have suffered over all these years.

At the bottom of page 1 of her submission to the committee, Ms Winter pointed out that Mr. Justice Barron was deprived of crucial data which would have been fundamental to reaching conclusions, particularly the C3 and C4 files, exhibits, fingerprints and photographic records which were missing. The situation was similar in regard to the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. Given the other areas Ms Winter would have investigated, is it common to all such investigations or is it very unusual to find that crucial evidence goes missing?

Ms Winter

I regret to say it is fairly common. I agree with Cormac Ó Dúlacháin that the more formal an investigation, the more information that comes to light. It was interesting when Mr. Justice Cory was investigating the murder of Mr. Patrick Finucane that he found papers theStevens III team had never seen, even though they had spent many years examining the same issues. If there is ever a public inquiry into Patrick Finucane's case, I would not be surprised if more documents come to light. I am not convinced that Mr. Justice Cory saw everything. The higher the level of formality, the more personally responsible witnesses feel for the evidence they give. They feel they must personally account for their actions because they may be at risk of being prosecuted for perjury if they do not tell the truth. In my experience, one can get further that way than with informal inquiries. Informal inquiries are often blocked by the disappearance of crucial documents. Many papers came to light in the Bloody Sunday inquiry, which had not seen the light of day for many years.

On page 10 of her report, Ms Winter refers to the PSNI establishing a historic inquiry team to examine the unsolved murders. She gave it as an example of where a public inquiry might be assisted by them. Perhaps she will amplify this a little. Given that it has challenged us in the past in regard to other issues, how can we overcome the failure to provide for compellability of witnesses?

Ms Winter

With regard to the historical inquiries team, it is unfortunate that I attend this committee today and that one on Thursday, because I might have more to tell this committee after Thursday's meeting. I have had a brief discussion with the team about the issue of murders that originated in the North but were carried out in the South and about how far its remit extends. Originally, they told me they did not think they had any remit with regard to murders carried out in the Republic but they are changing their thinking and now say they can investigate any part of it that took place in Northern Ireland. Therefore, they can look at the planning of a murder and the manufacturing of a bomb or at the origin of a weapon etc. I think they may well be able to provide some information on the murder of Seamus Ludlow and I understand they would certainly be willing to do so if asked.

The historical inquiries are a new enterprise and the team only started work on cases on Monday, although it has been preparing since last April. The sense I get is that this historical inquiries team, which is really the brainchild of the current Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde, has been created to lay the ghost of all the unresolved murders — too many, over 3,000 — arising up until 1998 when the Good Friday Agreement was signed. There is a real desire to find out what happened, share information with families as far as possible and to close the door on the past. Whether this will work, I do not know, because it is not an independent process but is part of the police and many people are distrustful of it for that reason. The inquiries team will certainly try as far as I can see from my discussions with it and this is something new since this committee last looked at the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, when there was no such wind of change blowing in Northern Ireland.

At the risk of repeating myself on the issue of compellability, when I appeared before the committee to talk about the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, I said I believed that if the Republic of Ireland set up a public inquiry, with all the powers that go with it, and made formal inquiries of the British Government rather than the informal inquiries Mr. Justice Barron was forced to make, the matter would become a government to government issue as to whether proper disclosure would be given to the public inquiry. A formal inquiry puts matters at a different level and makes it harder for people to refuse. Also, in the case of Seamus Ludlow, there is probably far less at stake politically than in the case of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and therefore there is more chance that a formal inquiry for co-operation from one state to the other would succeed.

I am very cynical about these matters as my work has made me so over the years. It is more difficult for the British Government to run rings around the Irish Government than it is to run rings around a single judge. Therefore, if the Irish Government asked for full co-operation, it would be difficult for the British Government to justify a refusal.

If Ms Winter looks over this and previous Barron reports it can be seen that Mr. Justice Barron acknowledged that positive signals came from the RUC with regard to co-operation with his inquiry. However, when these requests were referred to the Northern Ireland Office, the co-operation was withdrawn, almost as if there was a political cover-up. How can we be confident that whatever inquiry we establish will have any co-operation from the Northern Ireland Office?

Ms Winter

I do not believe one can be confident, but if one does not try, one will never find out.

In her experience of dealing with matters relating to Northern Ireland, has she found the police more forthcoming than, for instance, the Northern Ireland Office?

Ms Winter

Absolutely not in the past but only since Sir Hugh Orde took over and the Patten recommendations have begun to be implemented. There is a new mind set among the police, particularly among the younger people joining the police service. There are now quite a number of police officers from outside Northern Ireland in senior posts within the police service and they have a very different attitude to that of their RUC predecessors. Ironically I can say that I now get more co-operation from the PSNI than I do from the Northern Ireland Office but that certainly would not have been the case in the past.

Ms Winter mentioned earlier that the British army keeps good records. Is she surprised at the lack of records held by the British army relating to the interview of Kevin Donegan?

Ms Winter

I am very surprised and I do not believe a record was not made; it may have been destroyed deliberately but I do not believe there was no record. Having gone to the trouble of lifting him up into a helicopter and interviewing him — because I believe they wanted to find out how much he knew, as Mr. Justice Barron also surmised — I am pretty certain that would have been written down and it would have been passed up the chain of command which is their usual way of doing things. It is interesting that the intelligence summary which Mr. Justice Barron quotes in his report for the period 26 April to 3 May 1976 and dated 4 May 1976, actually refers to Seamus Ludlow's murder, so they were taking an interest in it from the outset. I would be very surprised if there was not a contemporaneous record but I do not know whether it still exists.

Which does Ms Winter surmise as being more likely, that it has been destroyed or that it is being withheld?

Ms Winter

I think it is probably being withheld. People say about the Germans during the war that they wrote everything down and never destroyed anything and my Government is rather similar in that respect; if anything is ever written down, usually the document can be found. The things that never get written down in the first place are much harder to track down at the end of the day.

Ms Winter has stated that the RUC is currently very co-operative with the HET, the Historic Enquiry Team. In her opinion is there a possibility for a more definitive conclusion to these horrendous crimes if an equivalent body were to be set up by the Garda Síochána and if the HET and such an equivalent body decided that as a unit they would examine crimes with cross-Border aspects, such as the murder of Seamus Ludlow?

Ms Winter

That would be extremely helpful. I understand from the HET that it has already met the Garda Commissioner and it is in the process of drawing up a protocol for co-operation but it does not have an equivalent unit with which to co-operate. If such a unit were established it could prove to be very productive and could help to lay many ghosts on both sides of the Border.

I thank Ms Winter and compliment the good work being done by British Irish Rights Watch.

On the question of a public inquiry, there was major deliberation in the case of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Given the fact that the perpetrators are declared north of the Border and no co-operation has been given regarding this committee's recommendations on the 1974 bombings, as well as the fact that neither army nor PSNI files or Northern Ireland Office files have been available to Mr. Justice Barron, does Ms Winter think a public inquiry in the Republic could be anything other than inconclusive? Are her recommendations limited to one inquiry? How would she see the situation north of the Border if we did not get the type of co-operation we would like?

Ms Winter

I meant to make this point in replying to Senator Walsh. Obviously, a public inquiry has the power to draw inferences if anybody refuses to give information which it feels it needs. It is not helpful if an inquiry's findings are ultimately inconclusive. As this case has many fewer political implications than the Dublin and Monaghan bombings had, it is my sense that it would be very embarrassing for the British Government if, asked directly for information that could help to solve the murder of a completely innocent man, it were to refuse. I believe international pressure might be brought to bear on the British as they are always telling other countries how to conduct themselves in a human rights compliant way. Those countries do not take kindly to it when the UK does not comply with those human rights standards. It might find itself criticised in the UN, Europe and perhaps also in America if it did not comply with a very formal request for co-operation in a case like this. If it did not, it would be open to an inquiry to draw inferences, as it were, from Britain's silence and refusal. The inquiry could report that it could only assume, since the British Government would not give it the document, there must have been such a document, policy or whatever.

In Seamus Ludlow's case many of the documents are missing from this side of the Border. I was quite shocked to hear that Mr. Justice Barron had not physically gone to see the archives and looked for these documents himself. It may well be that there is sufficient information in files that ought to be found in this jurisdiction to shed considerable light on the murder of Seamus Ludlow and that the information from the North may not be as crucial to getting a true picture of what happened. There may be some gaps left if the UK refuses to co-operate, but not as many, I suspect, as might appear from Mr. Justice Barron's report as so many of the documents that are at least theoretically missing should be in this jurisdiction.

If, hypothetically, such an inquiry were established and there was no co-operation, does Ms Winter believe that would give grounds to pursue the matter in the European Court of Human Rights?

Ms Winter

In theory, it should be, but given the experience of the families of victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, where the courts would simply not entertain their cases, unless it were a state to state action — I rather believe that the days of state to state action are past — I cannot see much hope of success; although in theory I can certainly see grounds for taking such a case. It is my gut feeling that in this particular case, a different wind is blowing regarding dealing with the past, laying ghosts and bringing closure to cases. If the Government had the courage to hold a public inquiry and call the UK's bluff on this issue, it might get much further than it might think.

When speaking to Mr. ÓDúlacháin I was unable to lay my hands on documents about which I wanted to ask him. The sub-committee received a submission from the Garda Commissioner, Mr. Noel Conroy, who will appear before it next week. In the section of his submission dealing with why the suspects in this case who were mentioned by the RUC were not followed up between 1979 and 1998, Mr. Conroy points out that it is worthy of note that no formal structure of exchange of intelligence between the Garda and the RUC was in place in 1979. It seems that Mr. Conroy's statement conflicts with the useful information that Mr. Ó Dúlacháin appeared to give the sub-committee earlier. Would Mr. Ó Dúlacháin like to comment on that?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

It may be the case that the Commissioner is making a distinction between "information" and "intelligence". The whole tenor of what was being planned at intergovernmental level in 1975 was that it would deal with cases which might arise, such as the murder of Mr. Seamus Ludlow. The whole purpose of the intergovernmental arrangement was that structures would be put in place. From what I have seen, I do not agree with the Commissioner's view about the exchange of intelligence.

We have learned more as a result of the investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. I refer in particular to the inquests which followed this sub-committee's hearings. Members of the Garda Síochána indicated at the inquests that intelligence was being exchanged across the Border in the summer of 1974. Most of the information that came to light in the 1974 investigation came to light on foot of intelligence. It was not evidential, it was not based on fingerprints and it was not the meat of prosecution, but it was intelligence. The structures involved police on one side of the Border formally exchanging information with police on the other side of the Border and attending meetings in Portadown and Belfast.

Was it done informally rather than formally?

Mr. Ó Dúlacháin

No. The meetings which took place in 1974, for example, were formal. They were attended by superintendents from Dublin as part of the investigation team and they were gathering intelligence. That was also the case much later in the process, in the late 1990s, when intelligence was exchanged as a follow-up to what was not done in 1979.

If the sub-committee was to receive as much information as possible from the very helpful inquiries which took place in London, it could make that point to the Commissioner next week.

Mr. O’Neill

Can I add that the actual exchange of materials which could give rise to evidential matters took place in addition to the exchange of intelligence? We have anecdotal information to indicate that members of the RUC travelled south to see the Garda Commissioner in the years following the 1974 bombings and received information about terrorist suspects of a republican disposition operating in Northern Ireland. The State papers of the time suggest that the British side seemed to press on the Irish side the fact that they could operate the provisions of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which would have allowed people to be charged and indicted in Northern Ireland for offences of murder committed in the Republic. The only problem was that the 1861 Act was confined to murder. We are dealing with the 1974 bombings, which were acts of murder, and the Ludlow case, which was an act of murder. A great deal of policy and practice relates to the alleged legal constraints, which were in fact phantom. If the political will to take action existed, it would have been possible to do so because the supposed constraints were largely non-existent.

I would like to make a further point in support of what Ms Winter has said. It relates to the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights on the complaints which were made by Justice for the Forgotten about the 1972 and 1974 bombings. The commission of the court largely exempted the Government of the United Kingdom from having to co-operate with inquiries. It largely laid the blame at the door of the Irish authorities — the Legislature and Executive of this State — for failing to establish a public statutory inquiry. The nature of the inquiries which the Irish Government and Legislature deigned to establish was regarded by the European court as not being of sufficient moment to require co-operation with the British Government in terms of discharging its Article 2 obligations. The ball has come right back into the court of the Legislature in this State in terms of its obligation to establish a proper statutory inquiry.

This is important in the context of the Commissioner's statement as to why the Garda did not follow up the information from the RUC. He relied on the point. If Mr. O'Neill could let us have his points in writing, we could put them to the Commissioner. This issue goes right to the heart of the Commissioner's statement to the sub-committee that the matter could not be pursued because the structures to take such action did not exist. If structures were in place, we would like to know about them. It would be very helpful if Mr. O'Neill could assist us in that regard.

Ms Urwin

We understand the names of suspects, which the Garda had within approximately ten days of the bombings, constituted intelligence information which was received from the RUC. The Garda had the information even at that early stage after the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

I thank the witnesses very much. I thank Ms Winter for coming over to Dublin and I hope she catches her flight back. I am also very grateful to the witnesses from Justice for the Forgotten for their continued co-operation.

The sub-committee adjourned at 4 p.m. until10 a.m. on Tuesday, 31 January 2006.