Quinn controversy calls into question way SF is run, says Martin

Fianna Fáil leader praises courage of Breege Quinn in challenging Sinn Féin over sullying of son’s name

Sinn Féin's handling of the Paul Quinn issue calls into question the way the party is run, said Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Mr Martin said he fully endorsed the call by Mr Quinn's mother, Breege, for a full retraction by Conor Murphy, the Sinn Féin Minister for Finance in Northern Ireland, of comments he made suggesting Mr Quinn was involved in crime.

Mr Quinn (21) from Cullyhanna, Co Armagh, was beaten to death by up to ten men in a barn in Co Monaghan on October 20th, 2007, and his family have always held the IRA responsible for the killing.

Gardaí believe Mr Quinn clashed with former members of the Provisional IRA who remained in position of control in the local community in South Armagh despite the peace process.


Mr Murphy caused huge upset to the Quinn family when, in the aftermath of the murder, he suggested Mr Quinn was involved in criminality and smuggling. Earlier this week, however, he contacted the Quinn family and apologised.

However Breege Quinn called on Mr Murphy to openly and clearly state he accepted her late son was not involved in criminality, and Mr Martin said he fully supported her in that call.

Speaking during an early morning canvass in Cork city, Mr Martin said he had met Ms Quinn around five years ago and had been in touch with her again recently. The Fianna Fáil leader said she had shown huge courage and great determination in challenging Sinn Féin over Mr Murphy's comment about her late son.

“The Quinn family have suffered an awful lot – the savage murder of their son has been so traumatic for Stephen and Breege, and I think there is an obligation on Sinn Féin as a party and as a movement to apologise in a comprehensive way and withdraw any slur on his name.

“The fact that her son’s name was sullied in the way it was has left a deep hurt on the Quinn family, and it’s extraordinary that it’s taken 13 years for an apology to emerge essentially because of Breege Quinn’s courage in consistently pursuing this,” he said.

“And she was against a big machine; she had to fight against a big operation and a big machine to have her voice heard. and she’s done it over many, many years.

“There should be a comprehensive withdrawal of any allegations, but also people need to go to the PSNI and the gardaí and tell the police forces what exactly they know - who they spoke to at the time, how they got assurances around certain issues as to who was responsible and who was not.”

Mr Martin said Sinn Féin needs to answer questions over who first put out the suggestion the late Mr Quinn was involved in criminality and that anyone involved in Sinn Féin who has information on the killing needs to contact the gardaí or the PSNI.

“There can only be one police force in Ireland, there can only be one criminal justice system, there can’t be alternative systems, and this issue goes to the very heart of the whole Sinn Féin organisation in terms of how they operate, and that needs to change,” Mr Martin said.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times