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Orange Order, election, Irish, Ireland, British, Ulster, Unionist, Sinn Féin, SDLP, Ahern, Blair, Irish America

West Belfast man was questioned by RUC in Dundalk

(by Suzanne Breen, Sunday Tribune)

A West Belfast man has said gardai allowed armed members of RUC Special Branch to question him in Dundalk garda station. Legal sources believe it is the only such case in existence.

Patrick Livingstone said the RUC's later claim that he had made a confession during the "interview" resulted in his conviction for murder.

"I made no confession. I served nearly 18 years in the H-Blocks for a crime I didn't commit. I was framed by RUC Special Branch with garda complicity. I'm not prepared to let this rest. I want the guards' actions investigated."

Livingstone contacted the Sunday Tribune after the Barron report last week speculated that gardai hadn't travelled North to question loyalists suspected of the 1976 murder of Dundalk man, Seamus Ludlow, because they didn't want the same rights reciprocated to the RUC.

"That doesn't stand up because the RUC came South to question me five months before Seamus Ludlow was murdered," Livingstone said.

Livingstone is from a well-known republican family in Andersonstown. His sister Julie (14) was shot dead by the security forces when returning from the shop with a bottle of milk.

In December 1975, Livingstone, who was living in Dundalk, was being detained in the local garda station when he was told he had "visitors" from the North.

"I thought it was my parents. I was shocked to find three RUC Special Branch men. The guard locked the door from the outside. One of the Branchmen opened his jacket to let me see his gun.

"They showed me a photograph of Samuel Llewellyn, who had been shot dead in Belfast and asked if I'd killed him. They later said I replied, 'Aye, I done it.' I didn't say that. I never considered the RUC worthy of a proper response so I said 'you're detectives, you work it out'."

Livingstone claimed when he complained to gardai that he had received no prior notice of the RUC's visit and wasn't offered legal representation or read his rights, the desk sergeant just laughed.

Nine months later, Livingstone was arrested after an arms find in Newry. "I was taken to Bessbrook barracks. They kicked and punched me until I fell to the ground. Then, they held me down and took turns to jump on me from a table.

"I was left pure black from the chest to the knees. My testicles were badly swollen. I was taken to hospital. One of the detectives who had visited me in Dundalk walked in and charged me with Samuel Llewellyn's murder."

Llewellyn, a Protestant civilian, had been shot dead by the IRA in 1975 while helping repair houses on the Falls. His brutal killing, which became known as the 'Good Samaritan murder', caused widespread revulsion.

Livingstone said: "I never thought I'd be convicted. The case was based on the Dundalk statement I didn't make. But it was a Diplock court. My trial started at 11am and I was convicted and sentenced by 2.50 pm. I was the first person in the North given 'natural life' imprisonment."

Livingstone lost his appeal: "I left it at that. The 1970s were crazy. Every day, people were convicted in Diplock courts on little or no evidence. You just knuckled down and accepted it."

November 16, 2005

This article appears in the November 13, 2005 edition of the Sunday Tribune.