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Under fire Conor Murphy to write to murder victim Paul Quinn's mother

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Murder victim: Paul Quinn

Murder victim: Paul Quinn

PA

Murder victim: Paul Quinn

The mother of IRA murder victim Paul Quinn has said she hopes that Sinn Fein minister Conor Murphy will say her son isn't a criminal.

Mary Lou McDonald has told Breege Quinn that Mr Murphy is writing to her.

"I have no idea what will be in the letter, whether Conor will or won't say that Paul wasn't a criminal," Mrs Quinn said on Friday night.

"I'm just waiting for the letter and I'll see what he has written when it comes."

Paul Quinn was beaten to death by the IRA in a barn in Oram, Co Monaghan, in 2007.

The Sinn Fein Finance Minister branded him a criminal and a smuggler after the murder.

Mr Murphy refused to withdraw the slur for 13 years, and indeed claimed that he hadn't used those words.

However, the TV interview in which he made the claim was unearthed earlier this week. He apologised and retracted, but so far hasn't met the family's request that he unambiguously say Paul wasn't a criminal.

The Sinn Fein president phoned Mrs Quinn on Thursday and told her Mr Murphy was writing to her.

Ms McDonald said that her 15-minute call with the 21-year-old murdered man's mother went "very well". She said she hoped to meet Mrs Quinn face-to-face soon.

The brutal killing, and Sinn Fein's response to it, became a central issue in the Dail election campaign.

President of Sinn Fein, Mary Lou McDonald, explains she has reached out to the family of Paul Quinn, and that it went “very well” and that she wants to meet his mother, Breege Quinn face to face.

Ms McDonald said on Friday: "I have conveyed directly to Breege our profound sympathy at the loss of her son.

"Obviously the family are dealing with very significant trauma and will deal with that trauma for the rest of their lives.

"I'm very anxious that the police on both sides of the border need to do their job and advance this investigation.

"I think it is worthwhile for us to meet. I said that to Breege and I think it's important that the Quinn family and Conor (Murphy) speak to each other.

"Above all, Paul had a very, very vicious and brutal death and the idea that those who are responsible for that are not brought to justice is, for me, unthinkable."

Mrs Quinn said that she had a "positive and respectful" conversation with the Sinn Fein president, who earlier this week categorically stated that Paul wasn't a criminal.

"I thanked her for saying it and for Michelle O'Neill saying it, but I told her I needed to hear those words from Conor, that my husband Stephen and my children James and Cathy needed to hear them too," Mrs Quinn said.

"I told Mary Lou that I was exhausted fighting for justice for Paul for 13 years, but that I had to keep going.

"I said that was what any mother would do and I asked her if she would do it if her son was murdered and his name blackened. 'I sure would', she said."

Paul Quinn was killed after clashing with the son of a local IRA commander.

He was lured from his Cullyhanna home in south Armagh to the Oram barn where a 12-strong gang beat him with baseball bats and nail-studded cudgels.

Every major bone in his body below his neck was broken in the attack.

His hands were so badly broken, they couldn't hold rosary beads in the coffin.

The Ulster Unionists and the TUV have said that Mr Murphy must resign. DUP leader Arlene Foster has declined to follow suit.

However, East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has said that Mr Murphy should step down. And DUP MLA Paul Frew has said Mr Murphy "shouldn't have time to get his coat".

Ms McDonald has insisted there is "no question" of the Finance Minister quitting.

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