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Saturday 15 December 2018

SF worker linked to fatal Quinn beating

Jim Cusack

One of the key suspects who is believed to have delivered the fatal blows with an iron bar to the young south Armagh man, Paul Quinn, was a Sinn Fein worker at the time of the murder, it has emerged.

The man, in his early 20s, was named in statements which were given to gardai investigating the murder. A house was subsequently searched and the man, a member of a well known republican family with close ties to both Sinn Fein and the IRA, is expected to be formally questioned in the near future.

The man was part of the IRA unit which had been tracking the 21-year-old for weeks before he was lured to a disused cattle shed at Oram, Co Monaghan just over the Border from his home in Cullyhanna, Co Armagh on October 20 last.

In the immediate aftermath of the murder the Sinn Fein leadership issued a succession of statements and made TV appearances denouncing the murder as the work of "criminals" and said there was no republican involvement. This denial of "republican" involvement was welcomed by both governments.

However, Garda sources have confirmed that at least one of the prime suspects in the killing was, at the time, an active Sinn Fein worker as well as being a member of the IRA in south Armagh. His family is also well known as being prominently involved in smuggling and diesel laundering.

According to local sources it now appears that the south Armagh IRA had a list of up to a dozen local young men who were suspected of "anti-social" activities but that almost all were taken off a list for a punishment beating because their families had links to the IRA. Paul Quinn's family has no IRA links.

The killing has created severe divisions in the area extending even into the local GAA and there is no sign of the campaign by family supporters to have the killers brought to justice subsiding.

The campaigners have challenged Sinn Fein over why, despite publicly denouncing the murder, none of its local representatives -- including the local MP and Stormont minister, Conor Murphy -- attended Paul Quinn's funeral.

The Quinn Support Group said: "Over the last few weeks they have expressed strong opinions on everything from rates relief to the Warm Homes Scheme and social housing, as they should, but on the matter of brutal premeditated murder they have nothing to say.

"These councillors knocked on all our doors at election times, pledging their support for us if we would give our support to them. And we did. But when payback time came -- when a family was faced with just about the most horrific event anyone is ever likely to face -- they were nowhere to be seen."

And the local SDLP MLA, Dominic Bradley challenged Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy over his statement that he had met the local IRA leadership who had assured him there was no IRA involvement.

Mr Bradley said: "Conor Murphy could start by telling the gardai and the PSNI who gave him 'very solid' assurances that no Provos were involved. It is for the police, and not politicians, to assess the value, if any, to be given to such assurances. We have heard them before. Gerry Adams got 'solid assurances' when Frank Kerr was shot dead at Newry Post Office, and he got more when Detective Garda Jerry McCabe was shot dead in Adare.

"He (Murphy) should also tell the police where and when the assurances were given.

"Did he drop into South Armagh Battalion HQ for a chat in the officers' mess, or did he go straight to the OC of the Cullyhanna Unit? Did he use the ministerial car? If he did, the ministerial driver should be questioned about where he went and who he met.

"Political interference in a murder inquiry is a very serious matter, particularly at ministerial level. Conor Murphy should look to his pledge of office. On my reading it does not permit ministerial consultation with criminal paramilitary gang leaders who may themselves be suspects in a murder inquiry."

Sinn Fein last week continued to deny there was any "republican" involvement in the killing.

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