Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Peace victims 'must not be ignored'

Breege and Stephen Quinn, whose 21-year-old son Paul was battered to death in October 2007
Breege and Stephen Quinn, whose 21-year-old son Paul was battered to death in October 2007
Breege and Stephen Quinn, whose 21-year-old son Paul was battered to death in October 2007

Victims of peace must not be ignored during the Haass talks process in Northern Ireland, the parents of a man murdered six years ago have said.

Breege and Stephen Quinn, whose 21-year-old son Paul was battered to death in October 2007, have expressed concern that the voices of people killed after 1998 Good Friday peace agreement could go unheard.

Their fears were outlined in a submission to the ongoing Haass negotiations - an initiative aimed at finding political resolution to longstanding disputes on legacy matters, parades and flags.

The couple from south Armagh said: " There is a particular concern that they should not be silenced or ignored because what they have to say may be politically awkward for some."

Paul Quinn, from Cullyhanna, was lured to his death at a remote cattle shed near Castleblaney, Co Monaghan in October 2007. He was savagely attacked by a masked gang wielding iron bars who broke every major bone in his body.

His parents believe his was killed by elements within the IRA after becoming embroiled in a dispute with some of its members.

Their submission continued: "Since the murder the family and its support group, mainly comprising Paul's friends and neighbours, has campaigned vigorously to have those responsible for his killing brought to justice.

"However, as the debate on victims and dealing with the past has developed we are increasingly aware that we are also in effect a victims' group. We have had a degree of contact with families of people killed in broadly similar circumstances, particularly those who died after the two ceasefires and after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

"There is deep concern among these families, as there is within our own group, that the voices of those killed after the conclusion of large-scale or widespread violence - whom we think of as 'victims of the peace' - should be heard along with those of all other victims."

No one has ever been charged with Paul's murder. A man arrested in connection with the killing in Co Monaghan in August was later released pending a report to prosecutors.

Former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass was appointed by the First and Deputy First Ministers to help find a resolution to outstanding issues after the region endured one of the most troublesome years in over a decade.

He has until the end of the year to find consensus.

Dr Haass, who finished the third consultative phase of his initiative last week, has also received submissions from the Retired Police Officers' Association, the victims' campaign group Relatives for Justice and the loyalist Jamie Bryson.

Sinn Fein, who have also published their proposals, want to prevent unregulated flag flying in public spaces; a legally binding code of conduct for parades, with "effective sanctions"; and the establishment of an independent, international "truth recovery mechanism" to address the legacy of the past.

The Labour Party has also suggested introducing a bank holiday to celebrate peace.

Last week the Attorney General John Larkin, who also met Dr Haass, sparked a widespread public backlash when he called for a halt to Troubles-related prosecutions and said a line should be drawn under the past.

Dr Haass is expected to return to Belfast in a fortnight to begin intensive negotiation with representatives from the five main Stormont Executive parties.

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