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Family of murdered Paul Quinn distraught as new lead ends up false alarm

By Suzanne Breen

Published 15/04/2016

Paul Quinn’s father Stephen at the scene of the search yesterday
Paul Quinn’s father Stephen at the scene of the search yesterday
Paul Quinn

The parents of IRA murder victim Paul Quinn have spoken of their devastation as hopes were last night shattered that Garda had found the van that the killer gang used.

A man in his early 50s was arrested as Garda began digging in land near the border yesterday. It is understood they believed they had found the vehicle in which the IRA team involved in the brutal murder had travelled.

The man arrested in Castleblaney, Co Monaghan, is from south Armagh and is well-known locally. He was attacked by dissident republicans in the past.

Paul, from Cullyhanna, was savagely beaten to death by a 12-strong gang of Provisionals in a barn in Oram, Co Monaghan, in October 2007.

Garda yesterday moved onto a farm in Castleblaney, around three miles from the murder scene, with ground-penetrating radar equipment.

The scanners showed material which it was believed could have been the vehicle that had transported the IRA men to the barn in Oram and in which they made their escape.

A digger was then brought in to excavate the material. However, sources told the Belfast Telegraph that it turned out to be dumped household goods.

"It was not the van. It looks like the contents of a house - an old washing machine, sewing machine and other used household goods were buried under the ground," one source said.

Paul's father, Stephen added: "We are very disappointed by this news. We had thought that at last there was a breakthrough in the investigation and that the van had been found. Breege (his wife) and I hoped that this was the first step on the road to justice for Paul."

But Stephen said he still believed that his son's killers would one day face trial: "While our hopes were shattered this time round, the operation does show that this is very much a live investigation.

"The gardai have been brilliant from the beginning. They have always said they won't give up and this is proof that they're keeping their word to us. They stay in regular contact with us and keep us well informed.

"Paul's killers should not for a minute think they've got away with it. I want them to know that, any time of the day or night, there could be a knock on their door that is the police there to bring them to justice for what they did to my son."

The young south Armagh man was beaten to death after clashing with several local Provisional IRA figures over minor matters. Every bone in his body beneath his neck was broken in the brutal attack.

He had been lured to the remote border farm, where a dozen men in black military-style clothing were waiting. In a brutally methodical beating, they battered him with iron bars below the waist and used nail-studded cudgels on his upper body.

Although more than 20 people have been arrested by detectives in connection with the killing, none have been charged.

The Garda investigation reveals a high degree of planning on the day of the murder, sources said.

Phone records examined by detectives showed the mobiles of around eight key suspects were turned off at the same time that afternoon. They were then almost simultaneously turned on after 6pm following the attack.

After the murder Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy said he had spoken to the IRA and was satisfied it wasn't involved. He also branded Paul "a criminal" and linked his murder to a crime feud.

This was challenged by the SDLP and Fianna Fail, and the Quinns have repeatedly asked Mr Murphy to "withdraw his disgraceful slur against our son".

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