Northern Ireland

Jon Boutcher to investigate Seamus Ludlow case

Seamus Ludlow (47) was shot dead as he came home from a pub in Dundalk
Seamus Ludlow (47) was shot dead as he came home from a pub in Dundalk Seamus Ludlow (47) was shot dead as he came home from a pub in Dundalk

FORMER police chief Jon Boutcher is set to investigate the loyalist murder of a Co Louth man almost 45 years ago.

Seamus Ludlow (47) was shot dead outside Dundalk in May 1976 by a loyalist gang believed to include members of the UDR and outlawed Red Hand Commando.

A former chief constable at Bedfordshire Police, Mr Boutcher heads up Operation Kenova and is currently involved in several high profile Troubles investigations.

The latest probe will have the cooperation of both the PSNI and gardaí.

From Dundalk, Mr Ludlow's body was found on a narrow lane outside the town on May 2 1976.

It is believed he was killed as he made his way home from a local pub, the Lisdoo Arms, hours earlier.

At a press conference at the same bar in Dundalk yesterday, it emerged that a new witness has recently come forward.

In 1979 the RUC gave gardaí the names of four loyalists it suspected of being involved in Mr Ludlow's killing but nothing was done with the information.

In 1998, named suspects were arrested and questioned by the RUC.

Two of those suspected of involvement later allegedly made admissions and even drew sketches of the murder scene.

A year later the Department for Public Prosecutions (DPP) decided not to put anyone before the courts for the murder.

The Ludlow family has previously called for an independent inquiry into the Garda investigation and into what happened to case files which went missing.

In 2006 a joint Oireachtas committee recommended that two commissions of investigation should be set up to look into the issues around the case.

The recommendations came after a report into the murder was produced by retired High Court judge Henry Barron.

Mr Ludlow's nephew Michael Donegan has welcomed the new investigation.

"We were very pleased - we have waited 45 years for this," he said.

"They (gardai) didn't do their job and turned their back on Seamus.

"Someone going to jail for two years is not going to be justice - we want to know why did they do this thing to this poor man. The truth and justice is all we want."

The family's solicitor, Gavin Booth of Phoenix Law, said that a witness has come forward with "significant information" in the last two weeks.

"It's quite large in volume and it's an independent witness that has come forward and we're hoping that that will form part of the investigation and play a major part in uncovering what happened,” he said.

The solicitor said Mr Boutcher "will look at the actions of all those who played a part in the role of the murder of Seamus Ludlow".