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Wednesday 19 June 2019

SF denials on savage killing fall on deaf ears

Paul Quinn's murder has divided republicans along the border of Louth and Armagh, writes Jim Cusack

THE Sinn Fein leadership lied when it denied the IRA shot dead postal worker, Frank Kerr, during the armed robbery of the Newry sorting office in November 1994.

It lied again when it said the IRA did not murder Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in June 1996.

They lied again in July 1999 when they said the IRA wasn't responsible for importing 122 pistols from Florida.

They lied again in August 2001 when three IRA men were arrested in Colombia.

When the IRA robbed the Northern Bank of stg£26m in December 2004, Gerry Adams said: "The IRA has said it wasn't involved. I believe that to be the case."

When a gang of IRA men, who had just returned from a Sinn Fein rally in Derry murdered Robert McCartney, Adams and other Sinn Fein figures vehemently insisted the IRA was not involved.

Similarly, when Joseph Rafferty was shot dead in April 2005 by a high-ranking IRA member who was a criminal and also worked for Sinn Fein, the party said republicans were not involved.

So, when one south Armagh resident said last week: "The best proof that the IRA killed Paul Quinn was when Gerry Adams denied it", he certainly had a track record to support his case.

The people believed locally to have been responsible for directing the murder of Paul Quinn, who had every major bone in his body broken in a prolonged beating with iron bars and pickaxe handles by nine men, are brothers, both long-serving IRA men who are heavily involved in fuel smuggling. They are also closely associated with Slab Murphy, the local IRA boss who holds sway over what is now a crime empire in the border area.

The people responsible were formerly known as the "Cullyhanna ASU" (active service unit of the Provisional IRA). They have continued to use that credential to impose a criminal campaign of terror in the area. According to local people, they target individual non-IRA and non-Sinn Fein farmers and force them to hand over their sheds for use in diesel laundering and smuggling.

It is known locally that Paul Quinn had run-ins with the Cullyhanna ASU on a number of occasions in recent months. He "floored" the son of one of the ASU leaders in a pub row some months ago, they say. Following the incident, the mother of the young man appeared at Paul Quinn's family home with a hammer in her hand and told them he would have to leave Ireland.

Paul Quinn is also believed to have been the driver of a disguised lorry containing thousands of litres of laundered diesel which was set on fire at the side of the main Saintfield to Lisburn road on October 10 last.

According to sources in south Armagh, the lorry had a flat tyre and Quinn, fearing his fingerprints would be found on it, decided to set it on fire and fled the scene.

Paul Quinn knew he was in trouble but local people said that as well as being cocky he was careful. He was prepared to go to the shed in Tullylorra near Castleblayney because he thought there was a fuel laundering plant there and he had a job to drive a lorry.

His murder has had a profound effect in an area which traditionally eschews contact with either the gardai or police in the North and where an omerta-style law of silence normally exists. In a remarkable turn of events, local people have gone to both a former Sinn Fein representative, Jim McAllister, and a well known protestant victims' activist, Willie Frazer, who organised the Love Ulster march in Dublin, to help get justice for the Quinns.

Frazer was asked by people he said told him they did not like him or his politics, to make a public statement saying that IRA members who are now major criminals ordered and carried out the murder.

"Basically, they told me that they hated my guts. But they wanted people to know that the people who did this are hated in this part of the country. I'm not saying this was sanctioned by Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness -- I don't think it was sanctioned at all -- but the people who carried out this murder are very much provisional movement members and it's their problem. They want the provisionals to go to the gardai or the PSNI and tell them what they know."

Jim McAllister -- one of five Sinn Fein members elected to the failed Assembly of 1982 and once one of the best known Sinn Fein faces in the North -- pointed the finger directly at the IRA.

A friend of the Quinn family, he was asked to speak on their behalf. He said: "For a while, his family, local people -- and even Paul himself -- have been waiting for retaliation. He thought he would get a few thumps. He was expecting it from the IRA.

In one case, a number of lads attempted to abuse him but Paul stood up for himself.

"Three of them ran off and one -- the son of a prominent republican in the area -- got a couple of thumps. Then, a couple of months later, another republican got a black eye."

According to local people the murder has caused deep divisions and major problems for Sinn Fein who are obdurately refusing to accept that the people involved all have associations with the provisional movement.

They also believe that an escape plan is already being hatched. Two of the young men involved in the murder are already said to have fled the area. Local people believe that these two are being set up as scapegoats to protect the main culprits.

The area is now splitting into two camps -- those who are against the imposition of a climate of fear by former provisionals, still using the name to cover their vast smuggling and diesel-laundering operations, and those who are involved in IRA criminality.

According to security sources, it is unlikely that the IRA people who continue to make millions out of fuel smuggling will give up easily. The profits are enormous and neither the gardai nor PSNI or customs appear to be able to contain the industry.

The main money-spinner in the south Armagh/north Louth area is the production and smuggling of diesel for the motor and haulage trade. Vast amounts of fuel are constantly on the move, mainly in disguised container lorries and large tipper trucks. Everyone involved at the top level is or has been an IRA member.

The extent of the fuel smuggling is unknown but it is believed likely to be costing the British and Irish exchequers hundreds of millionss in lost revenue every year. One estimate given to a British parliamentary committee two years ago suggested that £1bn (€1.5bn) in lost revenue would not be unreasonable.

One plant alone, discovered last July just outside Cullyhanna where Paul Quinn lived, was capable of producing 210,000 litres of illegal fuel a week and generating a profit of over €6m a year. It was operated by a close associate of the people responsible for Paul Quinn's murder.

Before Paul Quinn's murder there was already growing anger among law abiding members of the community about the ostentatious wealth being displayed by IRA people in the area who are driving top-of-the-range cars and building massive, gaudy houses. Now that anger seems ready to boil over.

See Alan Ruddock, Page 30

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