Sinn Féin leader refuses to say if Gerry Adams should apologise for similar remarks about the murder of Paul Quinn
SINN Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald will not be sacking the North’s Finance Minister Conor Murphy in the wake of his claim that murdered 21-year-old Paul Quinn was involved in criminality.
Meanwhile, she refused to say if former leader Gerry Adams should apologise for similar comments he made about Mr Quinn’s horrific murder.
The Monaghan man was beaten to death in a 2007 attack that broke every bone in his body.
It’s suspected that an IRA gang carried out the brutal attack.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin today said he believes that the Provisional IRA were responsible for the murder.
And Fine Gael Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan called on Mr Murphy to make a full statement to the Gardaí about Mr Quinn’s killing, referring to the MLA’s previous claim that he had spoken to IRA members about the attack.
Mr Quinn’s mother Breege has been seeking a televised apology from Mr Murphy for his ‘criminality’ remarks about her son for 13 years.
She also said he should step down from his role as the Northern Ireland Finance Minister.
Mr Murphy claimed on the BBC in November 2007 that “Paul Quinn was involved in smuggling and criminality and I think everyone accepts that.”
Ms McDonald confirmed that Mr Murphy will finally make an apology and withdraw his comments today.
But she said he won’t be stepping down.
She said: “Look we’re only after getting the power-sharing government back up and running.
“We have to make a success of this. I believe everybody is determined to do so.
“So Conor won’t be stepping down.
“He has made an apology. It’s sincerely made and I hope and I trust that the Quinn family will get some measure of comfort from that.”
She brushed aside a question on whether Mr Adams should apologise for similar remarks he made in 2007 when he claimed Mr Quinn’s murder is “linked to fuel smuggling and to criminal activity”.
She said: “The family have been clear that it was remarks specifically made by Conor, not intended to cause the hurt that they clearly caused, that they wished to have apologised for and retracted.”
Breege Quinn said today on RTÉ Radio's Today with Seán O'Rourke that she wants Mr Murphy to go to the Gardaí and the PSNI and “give the names of the IRA men that he spoke to”.
Ms McDonald was asked if Mr Murphy will be making a statement to the Gardaí but offered no commitment that he would do so.
She said: “Conor met with the PSNI and the Garda Síochána at the time and let me repeat that anybody with any information needs to bring that information about those who did carry out”.
Elsewhere, Fianna Fáil leader Mr Martin has said he believes the Provisional IRA were responsible for Mr Quinn’s murder.
He called for a “cleansing” of the “omerta” around the brutal killing of the 21-year-old.
“I think a lot of people know a lot about it and I think it's time for people to reflect on what they know and to go to the PSNI and go to the gardai and tell them what you know,” he said. “This type of savagery should never be protected or sheltered,” he added.
Mr Martin said it was “extraordinary” that it had taken Sinn Féin 13 years to apologise for “sullying” Mr Quinn’s name.
He said the accusations that the young man was involved in criminality were being spread to “distract from those who were responsible for his murder”. “I believe the IRA were responsible for his murder,” he added.
And justice minister Mr Flanagan called on Mr Murphy to make a statement to the Gardaí.
He called the murder “one of the most despicable crimes of recent decades” and praised Breege Quin for “tirelessly and courageously” campaigning for justice for her son.
He said: “After Paul’s death, Conor Murphy claimed he had spoken to IRA members about the torture and death of Paul Quinn and had been told they weren’t involved.
“However, both the Quinn family and the Independent Monitoring Commission believe that Paul Quinn was murdered by local IRA members in South Armagh.
“Conor Murphy must come forward to An Garda Síochána and make a comprehensive and honest statement about everything he knows about the killing of Paul Quinn,” Mr Flanagan said.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has said Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy should resign as Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister amid growing controversy over his remarks about Paul Quinn.
Mr Eastwood, who is the MP for Foyle, told Independent.ie: “If I was Conor Murphy I would resign. The way this has been handled is astonishing, the callousness of Sinn Fein is astonishing
“If it was the SDLP he would be gone. There are major, major questions here about how the republic movement operate. I find it astonishing, given the how long this has been going on and the public nature of it, that Mary Lou McDonald couldn't remember that Conor Murphy had said this. This is nothing new.”
He said Mr Murphy needed to apologise and give what information he has about the case to the PSNIi and An Garda Síohána.
While the call is likely to ramp up pressure on Sinn Féin and Mr Murphy sources in the SDLP and the DUP, which has also called for Mr Murphy to apologise, said it was unlikely this matter would be escalated to a stand-off between the parties given the Northern Assembly and Executive were only recently established after three years in abeyance.
Mr Eastwood is due to campaign with Fianna Fáil politicians in Dublin and Donegal in the final days of the election.
The mother of IRA murder victim Paul Quinn has called for Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy to publicly apologise to her family and resign after he claimed her son had been involved in criminality.
The most basic form of human empathy is that when a family is grieving, you most certainly do not compound their grief, particularly when someone receives a death so horrific, it shocks everyone to the core.
The last time Breege Quinn saw her son alive he was lying on a hospital bed with a ventilator tube protruding from his mouth, his eyes half open.