Belfast Telegraph

IRA murder victim's mum hits out over republican 'hypocrisy'

By Suzanne Breen

The mother of a south Armagh man beaten to death by the IRA is calling on Sinn Fein to apologise to her family for "blackening the name" of her son.

Breege Quinn accused the party of "breathtaking hypocrisy" in the wake of the Kingsmill video controversy for saying it was committed to healing the wounds of the past and embracing victims and their needs.

Speaking from her Cullyhanna home last night, Mrs Quinn said: "My experience of Sinn Fein has been exactly the opposite.

"The IRA took away my son's precious right to life and since then Sinn Fein and its supporters have done nothing but add to our heartache and pain.

"I've heard some commentators claim that Martin McGuinness was a great man and he would have dealt swiftly with Barry McElduff. Well, after Paul was killed my husband Stephen and I wrote to Martin McGuinness. He was Deputy First Minister and we asked to meet him. He didn't even bother to reply to us."

Mr Quinn was murdered by a 12-strong IRA gang with iron bars and nail-studded cudgels in a barn along the border in October 2007.

After the killing Conor 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.

Mrs Quinn said: "Sinn Fein has rightly apologised to the Kingsmill families for the hurt and offence caused by Barry McElduff's video and Mr McElduff has resigned.

"No apology has been made and no resignation offered or sought for Conor Murphy's disgraceful slur on Paul. This Kingsmill video is far from the first time that Sinn Fein has hurt victims. The party blackened our son's name when his body was barely cold.

"We have asked Conor Murphy publicly many times to withdraw his remarks and apologise. Despite being our local MLA, he hasn't lifted a finger to help us in the 10 years since Paul was murdered."

Mrs Quinn said she wished to again appeal to Mr Murphy.

"Your words caused us immense stress at a time when we were already living the nightmare of dealing with the loss of our beautiful boy, and they still hurt us. We once again appeal to you, as a politician and a father, to withdraw the slur against Paul. Our son was not a criminal and did nothing to deserve the dreadful death inflicted on him."

Following Mr Murphy's statement, former Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and the SDLP both asserted that the 21-year-old Cullyhanna man wasn't a criminal.

In October Mr Murphy told the Irish News that claims he had branded Mr Quinn a criminal were "without any foundation". He said that 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 Mr McElduff resigned on Monday, Sinn Fein Northern leader Michelle O'Neill said: "We have to heal the wounds of the past if we are going to create a new society and that means embracing all victims and their needs."

Mrs Quinn said: "To hear Michelle O'Neill say that made me sick to the stomach. Sinn Fein say this sort of thing to look good in front of the cameras but people like my family who have suffered know the truth.

"There's a 'Justice For Paul' poster permanently on a pole in Crossmaglen. Every Easter Sinn Fein activists place a tricolour beside it, even though there are plenty of other poles that could be used.

"I am asking Michelle O'Neill to promise that doesn't happen again."

Mr Quinn was lured to a barn in Oram, Co Monaghan, where he was beaten by men wearing black, military-style clothing. Every major bone in his body below his neck was broken.

He was targeted after clashing with several local Provisionals over minor matters in the months before his death.

Although more than 20 people have been arrested during the Quinn murder investigation - including Padraig 'Paudie' Treanor, a former driver of Mr Murphy - none has been charged.

Belfast Telegraph

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