A south Armagh man who was “crucified” by the IRA 10 years ago today was so badly beaten that doctors told his mother “they left nothing for us to fix”.
Cullyhanna woman Breege Quinn was speaking to the News Letter about the brutal murder of her son Paul Quinn, 21, who was lured to a farm across the border at Tullyvanus in the Oram area of Castleblayney and beaten to death by a gang of men on October 20 2007.
Every bone in his body had been broken.
The murder caused shock waves across south Armagh and major political waves, with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams rejecting his family’s claims that the IRA was responsible and Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy branding their son a criminal.
Ten years on, despite a string of arrests, nobody has been held accountable. Breege holds on to precious memories of the good times.
“Paul was always in good form, always up for a laugh, playing jokes on you,” she said.
“He would have his friends in and he would get the frying pan and he would cook everything that was in the house.
“Paul was not keen on school.
“But he didn’t mind working, he would work at anything. He loved driving tractors, he would go to work on the buildings if anyone was stuck.
“He couldn’t wait to get his lorry licence to drive a lorry. That is what he wanted to do.”
However, the good times with her son were to come to an unimaginable end 10 years ago today.
It was a Saturday and Paul had left home before she was awake.
The terrible news came when his girlfriend rang Paul’s sister to say he had been beaten up and that his arms and legs were broken.
“She rang again to say the ambulance was on the way to the hospital and they had him on a life support machine. They said for us to get to the hospital as quick as we could.”
But he had died by the time they arrived.
“The doctor came out and said: ‘They left nothing for us to fix’.
“It is unreal isn’t it? They just crucified him.”
The reason he was targeted was because he had “run ins with the son of the top IRA man” she said.
“Neither of the two of them were ever in hospital.”
After one such row a young man told Paul he would be shot, she said. Then a woman connected to the IRA followed him to a chip shop. Speaking with a hammer in her hand, she told him: ‘You will be got along the side of the road in a black bag’.
Breege said: “When you are a son of one of them you can say whatever you like to anybody.”
A month later her son was murdered. She confirmed that every bone in Paul’s body was broken.
“That is correct, yes. They could not even put rosary beads in his hand in the coffin. He was smashed.”
Some people responsible live very close to the Quinn family and would see the family on a regular basis.
“They couldn’t look at us now. They just look away. The community was stunned.”
It caused major anger against mainstream republicanism. “It did do surely, yes. It would have caused a lot ... just among themselves.”
The dozen or so men who broke every bone in her son’s body must have flashbacks of him screeching and should hand themselves in to clear their consciences, she said.
“I often think would they not have flashbacks in their head from listening to Paul screeching while they were laying into him. They are bound to have.”
She has one message for them: “Clear up your conscience and give yourselves up.”
Up to 12 men in the shed beat him with bars and bats, with up to another 12 outside.
They watched him all day and made one of his friends phone him to ask him to come and help clean a shed.
“They just had to ring him and ask for help and he was away. That was Paul.”
Conor Murphy called Paul a criminal after his murder.
“We have asked him on several occasions to withdraw the slur on Paul’s name but he never has.”
Gerry Adams blamed border criminals. “But isn’t the young lad that Paul fought a top IRA man?”
The woman who threatened her son with a hammer was also connected to the IRA, she said.
“Who else dresses up in boiler suits and balaclavas and uses disinfectant to clean up after them?
“You could not believe one word out of Gerry Adams’ mouth.
“Didn’t Conor Murphy say he spoke to the IRA in Cullyhanna. There wasn’t supposed to be any IRA.
“They told him they didn’t do it. So who are they? Who did he speak to?
“There have been over 20 arrests but not one of them spoke. You would wonder why they wouldn’t speak, wouldn’t you?”
The killing would have been sanctioned at local level but the senior leadership would have been aware of the plans, she said.
“They never do anything unless everybody knows.”
The Garda are still working hard on the case. “We have to have hope, yes. It is the only thing that gets you through.”
Sinn Fein offered the following response: “Sinn Fein once again offer our support to the Quinn family, and urge anyone with information about the murder of Paul Quinn to come forward to the PSNI and An Garda Síochána to ensure that justice is done.”
• Breege said that there is a £10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction. Telephone Garda on 00 353 47 77 216.