Friday 16 November 2018

Ceasefire meant nothing to gangs

It's only four years since the IRA as an organisation stopped killing people, and it was responsible for over 40 murders since calling its final ceasefire in 1997, writes Jim Cusack

The point made last week by David Kelly, the son of the soldier Patrick Kelly, who was shot dead alongside garda recruit Gary Sheehan in Leitrim in November 1983, that Martin McGuinness should tell what he knows about the murders remains a valid one -- especially in respect of more than 40 people murdered by the IRA since calling its ceasefire.

IRA gangs went on killing people for reasons varying from personal disputes to perceived slights to the IRA's authority to eliminating drug dealers who refused to pay protection money. In every instance, there were cover-ups by the IRA, intimidation of witnesses and the destruction of evidence. The IRA leadership -- of which McGuinness remained a very senior member -- was fully aware of the circumstances surrounding the murders but made efforts only to ensure its members were protected from the law.

In the case of the latest murder, that of 21-year-old Paul Quinn, beaten to death by the south Armagh IRA after Mr Quinn had a confrontation with one of its members, the IRA leadership threw up a wall of silence around the killers. Gardai and the PSNI carried out extensive inquiries and established the identities of the men who murdered Paul Quinn but, aside from statements from the young man's family and friends, were unable to gather any admissions or evidence. The gang that beat Paul Quinn with iron bars wore head-to-toe protective suits and gloves and left no DNA evidence at the scene of the murder, a shed just south of the Border in Co Monaghan.

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