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The cleaning out of a murky house

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Conor Murphy. Photo: PA Wire

Conor Murphy. Photo: PA Wire

PA

Conor Murphy. Photo: PA Wire

The controversy surrounding the savage beating and murder of Paul Quinn, which came late in the General Election campaign, should not fade now that the votes have been cast, are about to be counted, and the process of forming a new government begins.

There are many questions which continue to surround this particularly horrific killing that need to be answered, not least who was responsible and, it follows, that they be brought to justice. The attack on Mr Quinn occurred 13 years ago. On several occasions since it has returned to public attention. His murder is not the only one to have taken place at the hands of the Provisional IRA during ceasefire. The brutal deaths of Joseph Rafferty and Robert McCartney also touch a nerve on the public conscious on this island, and there are others besides. The identities of those responsible for these murders are more widely known than is admitted within the Provisional movement and it follows, to many within the Sinn Fein organisation itself. The standard response from this quarter is that whoever has knowledge of the murders should take that information to the PSNI or the Garda. That never happens, of course, on account of an underlying threat of intimidation and fear of brutal reprisal.

As the respected academic Liam Kennedy wrote this week, the horrific practice of punishment beatings continues in Northern Ireland and, in fact, according to authoritative statistics, increased in frequency last year over the preceding year. Indeed, the combined total of paramilitary-style shootings and assaults from last year shows a 25pc increase on 2018. As Mr Kennedy has written, it is clear that this particular legacy of the Troubles is a recurring nightmare that shows no signs of abating. In any modern democracy, this is an intolerable state of affairs. Such incidents are not confined to republican circles. Indeed, last year loyalists were responsible for some 60pc of attacks in Northern Ireland, meted out in the form of a battering, while the republican, or new IRA's preferred form of 'punishment' is by shooting. How grotesque.