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DUP's Foster says time for SF to apologise for slur against murder victim

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DUP leader Arlene Foster with Breege and Stephen Quinn and a photograph of their murdered son Paul

DUP leader Arlene Foster with Breege and Stephen Quinn and a photograph of their murdered son Paul

DUP leader Arlene Foster with Breege and Stephen Quinn and a photograph of their murdered son Paul

DUP leader Arlene Foster has called on Sinn Fein to apologise for labelling IRA murder victim Paul Quinn a criminal and has challenged the party to explain why it "misrepresented" the killing.

Mrs Foster was speaking after she met the parents of the 21-year-old south Armagh man, who was beaten to death by a 12-strong gang with iron bars and nail-studded cudgels.

Breege and Stephen Quinn told the Belfast Telegraph they were sickened by Sinn Fein's calls for "truth and transparency" for victims while "never lifting a finger" to help secure justice for their son.

Paul Quinn was lured to a barn in Co Monaghan, where he was brutally assaulted in 2007. Every bone in his body below his neck was broken. He was targeted after clashing with local Provisionals over minor matters.

Although more than 20 people have been arrested during the murder investigation - including Padraig 'Paudie' Treanor, a former driver for Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy - none have been charged.

Mrs Foster said: "Last week Michelle O'Neill spoke about the rights of victims. What about the rights of Breege and Stephen Quinn? What does Mary Lou McDonald have to say to the family of this young nationalist and the manner in which he was executed? Is the leadership of Sinn Fein only interested in the rights of some victims? Carefully crafted speeches and meaningless soundbites do little for the victims of terrorism. Evasion and cover-up cannot go on."

After the killing Mr Murphy, who was then Stormont's Regional Development Minister, said he had spoken to the IRA and was satisfied it wasn't involved. He linked the murder to a feud among criminals.

Former Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and the SDLP both asserted that the young Cullyhanna man wasn't a criminal. The Quinns have repeatedly asked the Sinn Fein politician to lift "his disgraceful slur" against their son.

Mrs Foster said: "At the time, Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy labelled Paul Quinn as a 'criminal' and attempted to portray it as a feud between criminal gangs.

"Mr Murphy was also happy to accept so-called 'solid assurances' of IRA members who said they were not involved. Eleven years on, it's time Conor Murphy apologises and explains why he misrepresented this gruesome murder."

The DUP leader added: "Today there are people who know exactly what happened. Barbaric assaults in small communities do not go unnoticed. Fresh evidence needs to come forward to help Breege and Stephen find justice for their son. While the Garda continue to investigate this case there is hope for the Quinn family.

"I hope to help them in their quest for justice. Towns and villages in south Armagh like Cullyhanna cannot live in fear of intimidation for speaking out against bully-boy IRA members. People should not feel unable to tell the truth out of fear."

Last year Mr Murphy told the Irish News that claims he had branded Mr Quinn a criminal were "without any foundation".

He said he had condemned the murder and "said consistently that the Quinn family deserve justice". He called on anyone with information about the killing to contact the PSNI or Garda.

Speaking after meeting Mrs Foster in Armagh, Breege Quinn said: "We have met other politicians in our campaign for justice and were very happy to meet Arlene. We told her Paul's story from start to finish. She told us about her experience living along the border and about her father being shot. We have asked her to raise Paul's killing with Sinn Fein."

Mrs Quinn added: "We will be happy to talk to Sinn Fein ourselves but only after they withdraw their terrible slur on Paul's name and apologise. It has caused us so much distress. Our son was not a criminal. He hadn't a penny in his pocket or at home at the time of his murder.

"Sinn Fein rightly fight for justice for the Finucanes and others, but they've never lifted a finger to help us."

Belfast Telegraph