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Politicians and media guilty of turning a blind eye to IRA murder of Paul Quinn

(Suzanne Breen, Sunday Life)

Tomorrow (Monday), Breege and Stephen Quinn will go to the cemetery in Cullyhanna, south Armagh, lay flowers and whisper a prayer at the grave of their son Paul. It will be the seventh anniversary of his murder.

The Quinns' hearts are heavy with grief. But they should be seething with rage too. Rage at us, our politicians and media, for turning a blind eye to murder.

On 20 October 2007, the IRA lured Paul Quinn to a farmyard in Co Monaghan. A gang of up to twelve men, in black military style clothing, savagely beat him with iron bars and nail-studded cudgels.

Every major bone in Paul's body below his neck was broken. He died shortly afterwards. He was just 21 years old.

Paul Quinn's murder hasn't disappeared from the political agenda because it was never on it in the first place. There was a quick round of condemnation at the time, then everybody forgot.

Nobody bar the local SDLP – MLA Dominic Bradley and Councillor Geraldine Donnelly – has offered to help the Quinns or shown the slightest interest in their murdered son.

No party leaders, justice spokespersons, or human rights' organisations have even called to see how they're coping.

When the Quinns wrote to Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness asking for a meeting, they didn't even receive the courtesy of a reply.

We hear all this spiel about concern for victims. And yet this is a family – heinously bereaved in a time of peace, a time when the IRA was meant to have gone away – and nobody gives a tuppenny damn.

After the murder, Sinn Féin told blatant lies, denying IRA involvement and branding Paul "a criminal" killed by other "criminals" in a "feud".

Who has called Sinn Féin to account? Who has demanded they clear his name?

Compare the inaction on Paul Quinn to what happened after the 2005 murder of Robert McCartney in Belfast.

In the Quinn case, the IRA hasn't even needed to bother with token expulsions. The killers, and those who ordered the killing, have stayed safely in their ranks.

The reason the Quinn murder hasn't gained the same momentum is pure political expediency.

Robert McCartney was killed at a time when the governments were trying to sign Sinn Féin up to policing and decommissioning.

His murder provided the leverage to do so, hence the great and the good lined up to shake his sisters' hands and the doors of the White House opened to them.

By October 2007, Sinn Féin was now in the system, enjoying its honeymoon period in government with the DUP.

Nobody wanted to spoil the party by making a fuss about Paul Quinn. That's why there was no interest in his parents' campaign.

Breege and Stephen are quiet, country people, too dignified to point the finger. But some of us can do it for them – shame on our politicians for their wilful abandonment of the family of Paul Quinn.

October 20, 2014

This article appeared in the October 19, 2014 edition of the Sunday Life.

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