Paul Quinn, from Cullyhanna, Co Armagh, was beaten to death 12 years ago today, lured to a farm shed in Monaghan where 10 men wielding iron bars and nail-studded clubs awaited him.
His mother, Breege, believes the gang who murdered her son are local IRA members and their associates but the crime remains unsolved because of the enduring silence in the community.
Gardai plan to revisit potentially dozens of witnesses following a cold case review of Mr Quinn’s murder and to launch fresh DNA testing of his blood-soaked clothing.
Fergus Traynor, the Garda superintendent leading the cold case investigation, said he has “no doubt” that those involved in the murder are controlling others to remain silent.
“We have some people who told us the truth, some people who gave us limited versions of what they knew. Some people who told us blatant lies and there were people who remained silent,” said Mr Traynor.
“The reality is there were quite a number of people involved in the attack on Paul Quinn.
“There were others who supplied support and transport and logistics, and all of those people have valuable information that can help this case.
“We’re hopeful that the passage of time will encourage people to come forward.”
On this day in 2007, Mr Quinn, a truck driver, who lived at home in Cullyhanna, got a phone call from a friend asking him to come to a shed in Oram, in Monaghan.
He arrived at the shed to find his friends tied up and 10 men dressed in boiler suits and balaclavas.
They circled and beat him relentlessly, crashing wooden clubs and nail-studded clubs and iron bars down on him.
Afterwards the gang had the shed washed down with bleach to destroy any and all DNA residues.
They fled in a white van that gardai believe was buried on local farmlands, leaving Mr Quinn’s friends to raise the alarm. He was semi-conscious when the ambulance arrived but died two hours later at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
Speaking previously, Mrs Quinn said every bone in her son’s body was broken, and his hands smashed. She recalled going to her son’s bedside at the hospital: “Half his ear was gone. His hands were smashed. The doctor said every bone in his body was broken. There was nothing left to fix,” Mrs Quinn said.
“I know we couldn’t put rosary beads in his hands they smashed him up so badly.”
Mr Quinn’s family and gardai believe he was targeted for a punishment beating after he had an altercation with a relative of a local IRA man. He had been threatened and told to leave the area.
His murder caused outrage and drew strong political condemnation, given the suspected involvement of IRA members. But while Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams condemned the murder, he denied claims that the IRA was responsible, while just days after the murder Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy suggested Mr Quinn was murdered in a criminal feud.
However, the independent monitoring commission said local IRA members and their associates were involved.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent on the eve of the anniversary of her son’s death, Mrs Quinn said she regularly sees the people who murdered her beloved son in south Armagh. “You would meet them on the road and they couldn’t look at you,” she said.
She is angry at Sinn Fein for the “blackening” of her son’s name by its members for which she has sought but never received an apology. On the night Mr Quinn was murdered, politicians of all hues contacted them, she said, but no one from Sinn Fein.
A Mass will be held for Mr Quinn in Oram today. “I remember Paul every day,” said Mrs Quinn. “As I said before, these people have to go to bed at night and they have no control over what they dream about,” she said. “It’s time to tell the truth about what happened to Paul Quinn.”
Police arrested 23 people in connection with Mr Quinn’s death, some of whom were accused of withholding information. No one was ever charged.