“But this is the new dispensation…”

The Ireland correspondents of the Times and the Guardian have noted the political reaction to the investigation into the killing of Paul Quinn, and the Irish Times front page report is worth noting – not least for a comparison between the no evidence “at this stage” of IRA links comment attributed, by the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson, to PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde and the Garda sources quoted in the text. But there is also a report inside the paper worth extracting from – see below the fold.The detail from the Irish Times front page report

However, senior Garda sources, who spoke to The Irish Times last night, said intelligence on Mr Quinn’s killing suggested he was murdered by people who have previously been members of the Provisional IRA after he clashed with former members of that organisation.

“We don’t have anything to say it was sanctioned, it was more local justice being dished out, but it did involve former members [of the Provisional IRA],” said one senior source.

Gardaí still believe the dead man was killed after he refused to leave his home in Cullyhanna following a fight with a prominent republican there and the son of another republican figure.

They are satisfied Mr Quinn was involved with a gang who were laundering green diesel in Monaghan and smuggling it into the North for sale as regular fuel.

However, sources said no evidence had emerged to link those activities to his murder.

According to DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, Sir Hugh told him yesterday that, this early in the investigation, the Garda and the PSNI “have not been able to draw the conclusion that has been made by the family that this was the work of the IRA”.

And from Gerry Moriarty’s report [subs req]

It seems reasonable to assume that those who murdered Quinn are known to quite a number of people. For instance, the two men who were understood to have been forced to help lure the victim to the farm in Co Monaghan, and were themselves assaulted, must be in a position to provide police with considerable detail about the killing.

But this is south Armagh and notwithstanding the recent breakthrough of Murphy inviting senior PSNI officers to Crossmaglen to discuss antisocial activity in the area will the old tradition of local omerta continue to apply? Pressure will fall on Sinn Féin to in turn exert pressure on those with evidence to go to the police. Those with such knowledge may feel caught between a rock and a very dangerous place. The phrase “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” comes to mind, especially in the context of the current dispute over the status of the killers.

But this is the new dispensation. This is a test of whether policing can work in the Borderlands. If it doesn’t then we could end up with a situation similar to that pertaining after the murder of Robert McCartney: then the so-called dogs in the street knew who was responsible but so far no one has been convicted of his murder.

Numerous people spoke to the PSNI in relation to McCartney but the necessary evidence to nail the killers was not forthcoming. If the same applies after Quinn’s death then notwithstanding the great political progress to date the question will be asked, does the writ of criminality run in south Armagh or do republicans have the influence to help bring killers to book?