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I hope IRA criminals who murdered my brother are haunted every day by what they did to him

Victim's brother speaks for the first time about brutal, merciless killing

By Suzanne Breen

Published 02/11/2015

James Quinn
James Quinn
James Quinn with his younger brother Paul (left) when they were schoolboys
Paul Quinn
Paul’s funeral
Parents Breege and Stephen Quinn

The brother of a young south Armagh man beaten to death by the IRA has said he was so overcome with anger after the murder that he wanted to take revenge on those who ordered it.

Speaking for the first time after the brutal killing of his younger brother Paul, James Quinn told the Belfast Telegraph: "Until the moment that the IRA killed Paul, I'd never hated anybody in my entire life.

"But when I saw Paul lying dead in a hospital bed, his body battered so badly that it was hard to even recognise him, I felt pure hatred. My blood was boiling that the Provos had reduced him to that state.

"I wanted revenge on them. But, thankfully, wise heads - loyal friends who stood by my family after the murder - spoke to me and I calmed down.

"I left it to the law to bring Paul's killers to justice and that was the right thing to do. Otherwise, I'd have been stooping to their level."

Paul Quinn (21), from Cullyhanna, was beaten to death by an IRA gang in a barn in Co Monaghan in 2007. Every bone in his body below his neck was broken by the 12-strong gang, who used iron bars and nail-studded cudgels.

He had fallen foul of the Provos after punching the son of the south Armagh IRA commander following a road-rage incident. No one has ever been charged with his murder. Paul was the youngest of three children.

While his parents, Stephen and Breege Quinn, have spoken at length about Paul's murder, James had declined media interviews until now. "It is all very raw for me. Even eight years on, it's still like yesterday," he said.

"My sister Cathy phoned me to say Paul had been shot and was in hospital, but she thought it was a kneecapping and wasn't that bad. Then I got another call telling me to hurry to the hospital, that Paul mightn't make it.

"When I got there, Paul was dead. My father and I went into the room. A lump of Paul's ear was missing. His whole face was battered. I'd never seen anything like it in my life. That is not how you want to say goodbye to your baby brother.

"I can't recall much after seeing Paul. I don't even know how I got home. The hours and days after the hospital are all a blur."

James, who was five years older than Paul, said his brother was "just another young lad who was into cars and liked a bit of a carry-on".

He said that after the murder, Sinn Fein caused immense distress to the family by "spreading slurs" about his brother. The party's then local MP, Conor Murphy, branded Paul "a criminal" and linked his death to a feud among criminals.

James said: "Conor Murphy has never withdrawn his comments or apologised. I'm asking him today to meet me face-to-face to show me what proof he has that Paul was a 'criminal'.

"Sinn Fein are always harping on about the need for 'evidence' when claims are made against them. Well, let them produce their 'evidence' on my brother now.

"Conor is often described as the moderate, reasonable face of Sinn Fein. I don't know how that fits with his scandalous remarks about Paul."

James urged the Sinn Fein MLA "as a father" to examine his conscience. "Conor has a son himself. I'm asking him to think how he'd feel if thugs left his son in the state they left our Paul. And how he'd respond if a politician in a suit and tie then went on TV calling his son a criminal."

James added: "Let's get it straight what Paul's 'crime' was. He gave a clipping to the son of a local IRA man - that was the height of it. To call him a criminal is laughable. He didn't have a penny. His car was a pile of scrap, you wouldn't have got £50 for it.

"Those tramps didn't even shoot Paul. It wasn't a clean killing. They gave him the most excruciating death possible. You couldn't do what they did to an animal, let alone a human being."

James said that the parochial nature of south Armagh means he often meets those who murdered his brother. "I see them on the road, in the shop, in the pub. I am not afraid of them," he said.

"Every time, I try to look them in the eye, but they put their heads down. It's not me who is uncomfortable."

James said that he, his sister and parents are still struggling to rebuild their lives. "Paul's murder almost destroyed us as a family. My mother breaks down crying all the time," he said.

"Paul was my father's blue-eyed boy. This has knocked the life out of him. I can see the sadness in his eyes every time I look at him."

James accused unionist politicians at Stormont of "absolute hypocrisy" over their reaction to Kevin McGuigan's murder in August.

"The UUP pulled out of the Executive and the DUP withdrew some of their ministers after the IRA killed Kevin McGuigan, but the same parties ignored my brother's murder. It makes no sense and it's an insult to our family," he said.

"All the politicians ever did was have an Assembly debate about Paul's murder, have my family up for tea and buns at Stormont, then forget about us."

James said he finds comfort in the company of those who knew Paul. "Any chance I get, I'm always talking about our fellow. But sometimes hearing news about his friends is upsetting," he said.

"I find out that they've settled down, married and had kids and I think, 'That should have been Paul'. The IRA robbed him of his future. My parents visit the graveyard every day, but I rarely go. For me, Paul isn't there - he's in my heart and in my memories."

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