Destruction of billboard will not deter quest for justice: Quinn family

March 9, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

The parents of murdered Cullyhanna man, Paul Quinn, say the recent destruction of the newly-erected billboard regarding their son’s death will not deter them from seeking justice for him.

Just two weeks ago the massive sign was erected in Crossmaglen town centre, replacing one which had previously been attacked four times.

The notice, which read: ‘Murder! Is this the ‘peace’ you signed up for?’ also carried images of the dead man and the manner of his brutal death.  Constructed of reinforced steel and timber, the billboard was prominent and instantly conspicuous on the edge of The Square.  However, in the early hours of Wednesday morning it was set on fire resulting in its complete destruction.  Fire crews were called upon around 3.00am to extinguish the blaze.

The act has been vehemently condemned by the Quinn Support Group and SDLP representatives in the area, who have blamed republicans and elements within Sinn Féin.

Paul Quinn’s mother, Breege, thanked those who have supported her family’s campaign and said: “It seems some people cannot bear to look at things which remind them of how they slaughtered our Paul.  Well, they will have to look at them.

“This campaign of destruction against our posters is clear and incontrovertible evidence of how desperate the murderers are to remove all evidence of our justice campaign. Our efforts to seek justice for Paul will continue,” she added.

Chairman of the Quinn Support Group, Jim McAllister, accused ‘Sinn Féin-type republicans’ of waging a ‘malicious campaign’ against the Quinn family.

“This shameful behaviour began in November 2007 after our public meeting in Crossmaglen and has continued ever since,” he said.

“On several occasions we have publicly called upon Sinn Fein representatives to call for an end to this vicious attack on the memory of a young man who was callously beaten to death, but Sinn Fein still stay silent. Their councillors can talk at length about other matters of vandalism and thuggery, but when it comes to attacks on the Quinn support group, they fall strangely silent.

“We also hear regularly about ‘safety groups’ who claim to be on top of things in south Armagh but they too are mysteriously silent about vandalism, theft, thuggery and arson when these things are inflicted on the Quinn Support Group.”

SDLP Councillor, Geraldine Donnelly, said the attacks on the billboards and posters were causing great pain to Paul’s family and friends.

“Over the last year or so, more and more people have come out openly in support of Breege and Stephen.  We have seen that in the turnout at campaign fundraisers and events.  It took courage, since everyone knows who killed Paul and why, but they are prepared to show their faces and do what is right. Those who destroyed the billboard wear masks like Paul’s murderers and skulk in the night,” she said.

“I want to tell the murderers now that the billboard will go back up, all the posters will go back up, the campaign will go on, there will be justice and they will be caught.”

Expressing his condemnation, SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley, said: “Since the end of January there has been a concerted effort to tear down the posters calling for co-operation with the PSNI and Gardai which have hung around Cullyhanna and Crossmaglen since shortly after Paul’s murder in October 2007.

“We need to be very clear that the murderers and their organisation are active again, organising again, working hard to suppress the family’s campaign for justice for Paul. We all know what that organisation is – the Provisional IRA.  The destruction of the billboard and posters should not get political cover and I would call on Sinn Fein to condemn those responsible,” he said.

Police have appealed to anyone who was in the area and who witnessed the incident to contact them.