| 5.9°C Belfast

'We meet those who killed Paul every day... it's a very hard road'

Case study 1

Paul Quinn

Breege Quinn's 21-year-old son Paul Quinn was beaten to death by 12 IRA thugs in 2007. She said:

"My son Paul had a few fall-outs with IRA people in south Armagh.

He punched the son of the local commander after he had forced Paul's car off the road.

After the incident, a member of the IRA commander's family threatened Paul with a hammer and warned: 'There'll be a body in a bin bag at the side of the road for this.'

Paul became involved in a fight with another IRA member who had insulted his sister in a taxi depot. He was told he'd be shot for that.

In the end the Provos didn't shoot Paul. What they did was far worse. They lured him to a barn in Oram, Co Monaghan, and beat him with iron bars and nail-studded cudgels.

Every bone in his body from the neck down was broken. His right ear was torn off and his bones were sticking out.

He was just 21 years old. He was the youngest of my three children. He was always full of beans and had a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He called me 'Breege', not 'Mum' no matter how many times I protested. He was a big child. He liked having his potatoes peeled for him. And he'd shout wee phrases in French like 'Bonjour!' or 'Au revoir!' when he was coming or going to make me smile.

There was nothing memorable about that day on October 20, 2007 in our home in Cullyhanna. Paul got a phone call to help a friend clean a shed in the afternoon. He was always up for lending a hand to others. He'd get up in the middle of the night if he was asked. You wouldn't find a more good-natured lad.

When Paul reached the shed, there was about a dozen masked men in black paramilitary clothing there. They set on him. The first we heard was that Paul had got a bad beating and was in Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda.

His girlfriend went in the ambulance with him. She phoned us to tell us. She kept on ringing us as we made that awful journey. She was telling us to hurry up. With every call, her voice became more frantic. When we got to the hospital a nun met us. 'The medical team are doing their best,' she said. But then the doctor came out. He shook our hands and said, 'Nothing can be fixed.' That was it. We had to arrange a funeral. I try not to think of how the IRA left Paul but I can't get the images out of my head. We couldn't even join his hands to place a pair of rosary beads in them. No mother wants to see the child she brought into this world and reared left like that.

The IRA denied killing Paul. They were lying through their teeth. Our local MP Conor Murphy said he'd spoken to the IRA and was satisfied they didn't do it. He linked Paul's murder to a fall-out among criminals. Eleven years later, he still hasn't withdrawn those remarks. I'm once again asking him today, as a father and as someone who others see as progressive within Sinn Fein, to take back his slur against my son.

About 20 people have been arrested in connection with Paul's murder but nobody has been charged. This is a small community. We meet the people who killed Paul every day. We live among them. We are determined to get justice for our son but it is a very hard road."

Belfast Telegraph