Murdered Seamus Ludlow Family Says State Obliged to Establish Commission of Inquiry
The state is forced to establish a commission of inquiry into the Garda’s inability to effectively investigate the murder of Co Louth forestry worker Seamus Ludlow, his family’s attorney has told the Supreme Court.
It is “beyond a doubt” that there was an inadequate Garda investigation into this “gruesome and sectarian” murder and the family want a rigorous independent investigation into why there was “a cover-up” and the state’s tolerance of the perpetrators of the murder, Ronan. Lavery QC said Thursday.
He was appealing to the court of seven judges formed on behalf of the family by Thomas Fox, a nephew of Mr Ludlow, against the dismissal of their case by the Court of Appeal.
The Attorney General is leading the state’s legal team in opposing the appeal. It focuses on important questions regarding the extent of the state’s obligations under the Constitution and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights to provide a legal and administrative framework that effectively protects life. and provides an effective means of investigating deaths and holding those responsible to account. .
Mr Ludlow, 47 years old and without paramilitary ties, was shot dead after leaving a bar in Dundalk and his body was found on 2 May 1976 in an alley near his home.
Although the RUC identified suspects north of the border, Garda’s investigation was suspended after three weeks. The family said Gardaí failed to pursue a major investigation – that Mr Ludlow was an innocent victim of loyalist or British forces who mistook him for a senior IRA official.
A 2004 report by retired High Court Judge Henry Barron said the murder was “a random and sectarian murder of a blameless Catholic civilian by loyalist extremists.”
An Oireachtas committee said in 2006 it could not determine why gardaí had not acted on the RUC information, but believed it was because of an instruction from a former senior garda.
The family have asked boards of inquiry to review the failures of Garda’s investigation and to investigate what documents may have been created by state authorities regarding the murder.
The state maintains commissions of inquiry cannot advance the murder investigation and says DPPs on both sides of the border had not recommended any prosecutions against four people named in the Barron report as alleged perpetrators of the murder. crime.
In 2015, then-Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald apologized to the family for the “inexcusable” handling of Garda’s investigation, but said there was no “new information. or substantial “justifying commissions of inquiry.
On Thursday, after discussing issues regarding the scope of the appeal with Mr. Lavery and Attorney General Paul Gallagher, Chief Justice Justice Frank Clarke noted that the appeal had potential implications for rights and obligations extending well beyond this particular case.
Mr Lavery had said that the family did not seek, in that appeal, to ask the state to investigate the actual circumstances of Mr Ludlow’s murder and that they were focusing on the insufficiency of the investigation of Garda, he noted.
The Chief Justice said the court would first hear arguments regarding whether the family can rely on the ECHR when Mr Ludlow was assassinated before the ECHR had effect in domestic law here via the ECHR 2003 law.
In his observations, Mr. Lavery argued that the critical date for the triggering of state obligations under the Convention is 1953, when Ireland ratified the Convention. The state also has a procedural obligation to investigate an unlawful death before the critical date as long as there is a temporal connection and a significant portion of the procedural investigative steps have been taken after the critical date, a- he argued.
Conor Power SC, also on behalf of the State, stated that there could be no breach of a legal obligation under the 2003 law until the law came into force here on December 31, 2003. The right to an effective remedy under Article 13 of the Convention does not alter the fact that the law cannot be applied retroactively, he added.
During Thursday’s hearing, the court heard that the Garda force was cooperating with an independent review by Jon Boutcher, a former Bedfordshire Police Chief, into the activities of the loyalist Glennane gang, which included members of the RUC and of the UDR.
The gang has reportedly killed up to 120 Catholics in the north and Mr Ludlow’s murder is part of Boutcher magazine.
The appeal has been adjourned until next Thursday when the court hears arguments on the other issues raised.