The recent Quinn murder – or should I say slaughter – in Co Monaghan is condemned by Sinn Fein and they moved quickly to distance the event from themselves or from the republican movement.
Statements are made that Mr Quinn was murdered by criminals as if there is a clear defining line between the IRA and nasty common or garden criminals.
I have to say that there is no doubt in my mind that whoever carried out this attack was certainly a criminal and a heartless criminal at that but the validity of the argument that it was not carried out by republicans is certainly open to question.
When is an IRA murder not an IRA murder? The answer seems to be when it is politically sensitive for it not to be an IRA murder.
When does an IRA man or volunteer cease being an IRA volunteer? Did all the members of the IRA march into a compound one dark lonely night, hand in their identity cards, their balaclavas and the M60s and walk out as reformed peaceful citizens?
Did those volunteers who served with such barbaric efficiency for 30 years march off into the sunset? I doubt it.
They moved on to profit-making ventures such as illegal fuel laundering, cigarette smuggling and drug rackets.
Recently the inquest into the death of the former Newry IRA man Eamon Collins – a police informer who fled the country for fear of reprisals after retracting information on the IRA and who returned to Northern Ireland after receiving assurances he was safe – heard the coroner John Lecky describe the murder as "one of the most ghastly murders I have experienced" (in over 20 years as a coroner).
This man had a sharp instrument plunged into his skull. Paul Quinn was savagely beaten to death, regardless of the crimes he had allegedly committed he was entitled in law to a fair hearing, and nobody deserved to die that way.
The Collins, Donaldson, McCartney and Quinn cases highlight the fact that the IRA has not gone away and if the IRA did not authorise the murders they are aware of who the murderers are, or could it be a case of collusion between IRA activists and criminals.
There is an uncontrollable element within the republican family that needs to be removed from society by the law of the land. If Sinn Fein is serious about peace, justice and truth let us see these four families receive justice, let us see the murderers behind bars for life and if they are IRA members out on licence let us see Sinn Fein actively support tough sentences including completion of original sentences for these thugs.
Councillor Ross M Hussey