Suzanne Breen, Sunday Life - October 13, 2014An informer within IRA ranks has come forward with crucial new information about the murder of South Armagh man, Paul Quinn, seven years ago.
The disillusioned Provo has told gardai the name of the senior republican from the border area whom he alleges led the gang who brutally beat the 21-year-old to death in a barn in Co Monaghan.
Sources close to the investigation said the IRA veteran has recently been quizzed by detectives leading the murder inquiry as a result of this information.
Paul Quinn died in hospital shortly after he was savagely assaulted on 20 October 2007.
His family and friends will gather in Cullyhanna next weekend for a Mass and commemoration to mark the seventh anniversary of his murder.
In an interview with Sunday Life, Paul's father, Stephen Quinn, accused Sinn Féin of continuing to shield his son's killers but he warned that the gardai investigation remained very active.
"We believe we'll secure justice. This isn't a case the gardai has put on the back burner. It's open and progressing all the time.
"Those who murdered my son may think they've got away with it but they shouldn't sleep easily in their beds. Their past will catch up with them," he said.
A source close to the investigation said the senior local Provisional went voluntarily to Carrickmacross garda station to be interviewed in the presence of his solicitor after hearing detectives had been searching for him.
"Information that this man led the IRA gang who beat Paul Quinn with cudgels and iron bars has been conveyed to gardai.
"They have been told he stood in the barn, giving the instructions to Paul's assailants," the source said.
The senior Provisional, who is in his 50s, has previously served a prison sentence and is well known in the south Armagh and north Louth area. He has held position within Sinn Féin.
Police on both sides of the border believe he was one of three IRA men involved in the November 1994 murder of Newry post office worker, Frank Kerr, but he has never faced charges in connection with that incident.
Kerr, the first person the IRA killed after its ceasefire, was shot in the head as he struggled with the gang robbing the mail office. They escaped with £130,000.
The republican questioned about Paul Quinn's murder is known as a 'heavy' for the Provos. He was one of those who knocked on the doors of Real IRA members to issue death threats against them in 1998.
Although more than 20 people have been arrested during the Quinn murder investigation – including Padraig 'Paudie' Treanor, a former driver of Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy. None has been charged.
The gardai investigation reveals a high degree of planning on the day of the murder.
Phone records examined by detectives showed the mobiles of around eight key suspects were turned off at the same time that afternoon. They were then almost simultaneously turned on after 6pm following the beating.
The IRA targeted Paul Quinn for clashing with several local Provos over minor matters in the months before his killing.
After the murder, Conor Murphy MP said he had spoken to the IRA and was satisfied they weren't involved. He branded Paul "a criminal" and linked his murder to a feud among criminals.
Former Irish Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern, and the SDLP both asserted that Paul wasn't a criminal. Stephen Quinn said: "Seven year's after Paul's murder, we appeal to Conor Murphy, as a politician and a father, to withdraw his disgraceful slur against our son."
Living in a small rural community, the Quinns regularly come face-to-face with the men who killed Paul, Stephen said: "There's not a day I don't meet those who were involved in some way. Whether they ordered or directed it or beat him, they all have blood on their hands."
He accused Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams of failing to help their campaign for justice: "These two could come to south Armagh and secure justice for us within an hour because it's prominent members of the provisional movement who murdered our son."
Breege Quinn is still haunted by the horrific memory of seeing her dying son in hospital seven years ago.
"Paul was lying on the bed with a ventilator tube protruding from his mouth, his eyes half open. His head was swollen and there were gashes on his face.
"His right ear was torn off. Every major bone below his neck was broken. The doctors said nothing could be fixed.
"What mother wouldn't be destroyed seeing the child she gave birth to and reared in that pitiful state? But I'd still rather be Paul's mother than the mother of the people who murdered him," she says.
Up to a dozen masked men wearing black military style clothing were involved in the savage assault in a farm near Oram, Co Monaghan.
From Paul's toes to his groin, they battered him with iron bars. They used nail-studded cudgels on his upper body.
Two friends of Paul's had been working at the farm that day. IRA members arrived, beat the young men and tied them up in a shed.
The lads were then forced to phone Paul and lure him to the farm by claiming they needed a hand shifting cattle.
Paul drove from south Armagh with another friend to help. When they arrived, Paul's friend was taken to the shed were the other two young men were tied up.
Paul was brought to another barn. His friends heard him screaming loudly as the beating began, begging for mercy. As the assault continued, his voice grew weaker and eventually faded away.
Paul had several previous run-ins with senior Provisional IRA figures, their associates and relatives.
He punched the son of the local IRA commander after he had forced Paul's car off the road. After the incident, the wife of the IRA commander threatened Paul with a hammer and warned: "There'll be a body in a bin bag at the side of the road for this."
Paul assaulted another IRA member who had insulted his sister in a taxi depot. He was told he would be shot for that.
Stephen Quinn said: "Had he been given a thump for clashing with the Provos, we wouldn't have complained. But what happened was wicked beyond belief."
I have nothing but the highest level of sympathy and admiration for Paul Quinn’s parents and family. Conversely, I have nothing but the highest level of revulsion and disgust for the perpetrators of this heinous and cowardly act of cold blooded murder. I don’t care what their political affiliation or ideology is or anything else about them other than they are the lowest form of cowards and deserve to be hunted down and punished to the full extent of the law as should any of their enablers before or after the fact.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America