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Court allows family to challenge decision not to charge British soldiers accused of killing Seamus Ludlow

JUSTICE may be drawing closer for the family of a man killed in 1976  after a court allowed them to challenge a decision not to charge British soldiers and loyalist paramilitaries identified as suspects.

A High Court judge said in 2017 that Seamus Ludlow had been shot dead in a “callous sectarian murder” as he walked back from a night out at a pub in Dundalk, however nobody has been charged.

His family maintain he was killed by a loyalist death squad made up of the notorious Red Hand Commando and the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) — the largest infantry regiment in the British army accused of collusion with loyalist paramilitary groups.

Suspects were named as early as 1979, with the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) supplying information on four men to police in the south of Ireland.

However it was alleged there were instructions to take no further action, fearing it could lead to requests for the extradition of IRA suspects in return.

Two men allegedly confessed to involvement in the murder after the suspects were arrested in 1998.

The RUC recommended prosecutions but the director of public prosecutions ruled that no charges would be made. The case file has since been “lost.”

A 2006 Oireachtas joint house committee held hearings on Mr Ludlow’s killing, basing its findings on a report compiled by retired High Court judge Henry Barron, and recommended that two commissions of inquiry be established by the government. 

However the family were left frustrated again after the recommendations were ignored, fuelling allegations of a state cover-up.

QC for the family Ronan Lavery said the murder “must rank among the most shameful episodes in the [history of the Irish] state.”

“What we seem to have here is an implied or express agreement, it’s almost collusion between the two states to keep this matter covered up,” he said.

Margaret Urwin from the Justice for the Forgotten campaign told the Star they were pleased with the decision, but said there was “a long road to go down” before justice was served.

“Security services on both sides of the border have a lot to answer for. They failed to prosecute any of those involved and failed to seek extradition of those named as suspects,” she said, adding: “This is a terribly unjust case. The family have been fighting for a very, very long time.”

The news comes ahead of today’s decision on whether 18 soldiers will face criminal charges for their role in the Bloody Sunday killings in Derry in January 1972.

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