The father of the victim of one of the most brutal IRA murders has expressed his dismay after a leading Sinn Féin politician repeatedly refused to apologise for the crimes committed by the terror organisation.
Stephen Quinn yesterday said he was "disgusted" but "not surprised" after Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy declined to clearly distance himself and his party from IRA atrocities.
Mr Quinn's son Paul (21), from the small village of Cullyhanna in south Armagh, was ambushed by an IRA gang of up to 12 men in 2007.
The gang used iron bars and other weapons to brutally break every bone in his body below the neck. Paul died from the injuries he suffered in the beating.
The murder, for which nobody was ever charged, was ordered after the young man stood up to senior members of the IRA.
Speaking on BBC radio yesterday, Mr Murphy was asked whether he would apologise for the crimes of the IRA following the decision by DUP politician Ian Paisley Jnr to say "thank you" to the North's outgoing deputy first minister Martin McGuinness for his contribution to the Peace Process.
But on several occasions Mr Murphy, one of the frontrunners to succeed Mr McGuinness, refused to issue an apology.
He accused presenter Stephen Nolan of trying to create headlines by persisting in asking whether he would apologise.
"We have always acknowledged the victims of the IRA," Mr Murphy said, while pointedly declining to say 'sorry'.
Mr Murphy, from Camlough in south Armagh, is believed to have joined the Provisional IRA during the 1981 hunger strikes. In 1982 he was sentenced to five years in prison for IRA membership and possession of explosives.
Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, Stephen Quinn hit out at Mr Murphy, who is an MLA in his constituency.
"I am disgusted but not surprised to be honest," Mr Quinn said. "I just don't think he is fit to be deputy first minister."
Mr Quinn said despite the murder of his son taking place almost ten years ago, Mr Murphy has not contacted the family to offer assistance in their fight for justice.
"We haven't heard from him at all," Mr Quinn added.
Meanwhile, it's understood Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O'Neill is due to speak at a party event in Dublin today in an indication that she is the leadership's preferred option to succeed Mr McGuinness, who announced his decision to step aside for health reasons.
As reported by the Irish Independent yesterday, the issue of who succeeds Mr McGuinness has been the subject of major internal tensions.
It's understood Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams is anxious to ensure that senior MLA and former provo Conor Murphy does not secure the position, instead favouring his younger party colleague Ms O'Neill.
Any decision to appoint Ms O'Neill will raise the prospect of Mary Lou McDonald being chosen to replace Mr Adams when he steps aside.
Mr Adams told RTÉ News that Mr McGuinness's successor will be announced by the party on Monday.