Quinn family ‘lives in hope’ of seeing murderers jailed

The mother of a murdered south Armagh man who has found herself plunged into a political row says she lives in hope of one day seeing the culprits jailed.

A poster on a telegraph pole bearing Paul Quinn’s face and calling for justice, looks out over the remote country road where his family live.

It was from here 13 years ago that the 21-year-old was lured to a farm a short distance across the border in Co Monaghan and beaten to death.

General Election Ireland 2020
General Election Ireland 2020

No-one has ever been charged with Paul’s murder despite an ongoing cross-border police operation.

The Quinn family blame members of the IRA, but Sinn Fein has long denied republican involvement and called for anyone with information to go to police.

Paul’s mother Breege Quinn told the PA news agency that she believed most people in Sinn Fein knew who was responsible, adding that she had strong suspicions she knew too.

She said she would “never lower herself to confrontation”, as she recalled attempts to intimidate her in the immediate aftermath of her son’s murder.

Sinn Fein’s response to the murder has become a major issue in the Irish General Election campaign, with rivals highlighting the party’s IRA links and accusing it of being soft on crime.

Mrs Quinn firmly rejects claims she is speaking out for political motives.

She recalled her son’s love of life, saying he would have “done anything for anyone”, how he enjoyed the company of his girlfriend, cooking for his friends and planned to become a lorry driver like his father Stephen.

“We’ve been accused of coming out looking for justice because there is an election on – I’ve been fighting for justice for Paul for 13 years regardless whether there is an election or not,” she said.

The police investigation is ongoing and Mrs Quinn said she receives regular updates from the gardai.

General Election Ireland 2020
General Election Ireland 2020

She has urged Conor Murphy, an MLA representing the area who previously said he had spoken to people in Cullyhanna who had denied the IRA were responsible, to give those names to police.

Mrs Quinn said she wanted to see those involved in her son’s murder brought before the courts and jailed.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Murphy apologised for alleging Paul had been involved in criminality and called for anyone with information about the murder to bring it to the gardai or the PSNI.

Mrs Quinn said those comments had destroyed the lives of her and her family by “putting a slur on Paul’s name, calling him a criminal”.

“I would like Conor Murphy to stand down. But if he comes out, gets justice for Paul, and tells the gardai and PSNI the names of the people he spoke to, and we see the people who murdered Paul up in court and in jail, then Conor Murphy will be entitled to stay in his position,” she said.

“We live in hope every day, it’s the only thing keeps us going.”