Senior Sinn Fein member Conor Murphy, having been backed into a corner by the tenacity of the Quinn family whose son was brutally murdered by IRA members 13 years ago, has apologised for a disgraceful slur he placed on the dead man.
e branded Paul Quinn a smuggler and criminal when he was neither, but there are those who might have regarded that as a mitigation of what was a barbarous act. Around a dozen men beat the 21-year-old with clubs and iron bars breaking every bone in his body from the neck down.
As Paul's mother has repeatedly said, this slur added greatly to the horrendous pain the family were already enduring over his death. It is every credit to her that she has campaigned unceasingly to clear her son's name, force Conor Murphy to retract his statement and issue a public apology - which he has done - and to get justice for Paul.
Mr Murphy deserves no credit for taking 13 years to withdraw his slur and apologise publicly for making it. He was forced by circumstances into doing the decent thing.
Mrs Quinn also wants him to resign from his post as Finance Minister at Stormont, but that is not going to happen. Some people argue that this controversy is nothing to do with his present political position but it does in one way - it is time that the public has complete faith in the integrity of its public representatives.
In Northern Ireland, which has all the multi-tiered political structures and pomp and expense of a much bigger democratic state, there are very few examples of politicians accepting culpability. It is usually a case of brazening it out rather than resigning.
More than 20 years of devolved administration has created a peace of sorts, but many people have paid a very high price for that peace. Like Mrs Quinn their voices have been heard but seldom heeded.
How can they have faith in proposed truth and reconciliation processes when they see a party continue to peddle the lie that IRA members were not involved in Paul Quinn's murder? Yet the International Monitoring Commission said in 2008 that past and current members of the IRA may have been involved in the killing although it was not sanctioned by the IRA leadership.
Of course, like other controversies, this row will soon pass and the Quinn family will go back to their private grief hoping against hope of some breakthrough to bring their son's killers to justice but fearing it will never happen.
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