Mother of Paul Quinn calls for further statement from Conor Murphy

Breege Quinn: Minister must unequivocally state that Paul Quinn was not a criminal

The mother of Paul Quinn, who was beaten to death by up to 10 men in a barn in Co Monaghan 13 years ago, has called for a further statement from Conor Murphy.

Breege Quinn spoke Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald on Thursday evening and told her that Mr Murphy must unequivocally state that Paul Quinn was not a criminal.

“I spoke with Mary Lou McDonald. I had a short conversation with her and I thanked her for saying that Paul was not a criminal. I told her that Conor Murphy has not clearly said that Paul was not a criminal. She said she would speak to him.

“It is only a few words. Every day I am waiting. She said would speak to him but she didn’t say if he would do this. I said to her, Mary Lou you are a parent, wouldn’t you want justice? And she said she would.”


Ms Quinn said the matter is not settled until Mr Murphy clarifies this.

Earlier on Thursday, Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan called on Sinn Féin’s finance minister in the North to resign following the controversy over comments he made where he linked a murdered man to criminality.

Conor Murphy on Wednesday retracted and apologised for comments he made claiming Paul Quinn had been involved in criminality and smuggling.

Mr Quinn (21), from Cullyhana,Co Armagh, was brutally beaten to death on October 20th, 2007. His family has always held the IRA responsible.

“I think Conor Murphy should resign. If his apology was genuine he would have issued that apology to the Quinn family 13 years ago. But the apology was really designed to protect and promote the interests of Sinn Féin in the run-up to a general election,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

“What it reveals is that whenever there is a conflict between the interests of a family seeking justice on the one hand, and the interests of the provisional IRA or people involved in crime on the other hand, Sinn Féin will always opt for the latter.”

Special Criminal Court

Speaking on Thursday, Ms McDonald also addressed the issue if the Special Criminal Court and could not say who set the policy to call for a review

Ms McDonald has been pressed during the election campaign on the party’s previous opposition to the court and whether she supports its abolition. She has said she wants to see a review.

When asked who set the policy and when, she said that “since 2017 we have been looking for this review and it’s recorded on the Dáil record. Our objective here is to ensure that we have safe communities. We support the court system, the judicial system, the apparatus of the State but we’re simply saying what we have at the moment isn’t delivering the level of safety and security that our communities need.”

When asked again who set the policy and when she said: “It’s on the record of the Dáil.” She said it was not set at an Ard Fheis but instead was a “development of party policy.”

“It was party discussions and it was led by our justice spokesperson at the time, anyway, it’s recorded on the record of the Dáil.”

She said that if the outcome of the review recommends that the court continue, she will support that.

Earlier Mr O’Callaghan said Ms McDonald cannot say she supports the special criminal court it because she’s “not allowed to”.

He said this is because “the cabal in West Belfast will not allow her to come out in favour of the special criminal court because they know it undermines their revisionist view of what happened in this country for 30 or 40 years during the troubles.”

Despite this he said “we’ve got to recognise that in the Constitution, you are allowed to establish special courts to deal with certain offences and it’s within the Constitution.

“The people voted in favour of it. And we need to recognise that if we don’t have the special criminal record in respect to prosecution of gangland and criminality what is going to happen is that jurors are going to be intimidated.”

Speak to PSNI

Ms McDonald also rejected any suggestion that Mr Murphy is resisting speaking to police about the murder of Mr Quinn.

Pressed on whether he would by broadcaster Pat Kenny on Newstalk, Ms McDonald said: “Don’t insinuate that Conor [Murphy] is resisting speaking to the authorities – that is not true.”

Ms McDonald added: “At the time, the International Monitoring Committee (IMC) took a judgement in terms of Paul’s murder, and by the way those that carried out that diabolical act need to be apprehended and put behind bars.”

Breege Quinn, mother of Mr Quinn, has called on Mr Murphy to go to the PSNI with the names of people in the IRA he spoke to in the aftermath of the killing.

Mr Murphy on Wednesday retracted and apologised for comments he made in the immediate aftermath of the murder .

When asked had he any evidence for the original comments Mr Murphy told RTÉ, “I am not going to go into what the evidence was or wasn’t at the time. The fact is that regardless of what my view was at the time those remarks added to the grief of a family. It was the wrong thing to do at the time.”

Asked was it his view that Mr Quinn had been involved in criminal activity Mr Murphy said he accepted there was no evidence to link him to such criminality.

Mr Quinn’s parents, Breege and Stephen, said the reason they did not accept Mr Murphy’s apology and still wanted him to resign was because he had not said their son was not a criminal. They have called on him to give the names of the IRA members he spoke with to the PSNI.

Mr Murphy has said he has already met the PSNI about Mr Quinn’s murder. “If they feel they have anything helpful to add to their inquiries, I will happily meet them at any stage,” Mr Murphy said.

Elsewhere former Minister for Justice Michael McDowell joined Sinn Féin’s other political opponents by attacking the party over its handling of the Quinn family’s ordeal.

Mr Murphy should resign as the North’s finance minister for refusing to retract his remarks for more than a decade, said Mr McDowell.

“I think he should [resign],” he told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke. “Because he was appealed to for the last 12 years to withdraw those remarks, to exonerate this innocent victim of Provo savagery and he refused point blank to do it.”

Sinn Féin had “put it around” that Mr Quinn was involved in criminality – which was “wholly untrue”, said Mr McDowell.

“The simple fact is that Conor Murphy has for the last 12 years, despite being appealed to weekly and monthly, by the Quinn family to retract that slur on their son, he has refused point blank to do it.”

Mr Murphy only apologised “under massive pressure” when party leader Ms McDonald “made a mess of the issue on television”, said Mr McDowell.