Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy has apologised to the family of Paul Quinn who is believed to have been murdered by the IRA 13 years ago.
Sinn Féin has long denied republican involvement in the 2007 murder and the party's Stormont Finance Minister claimed Mr Quinn was involved in “smuggling and criminality”.
Mr Quinn’s mother Breege has called on Mary Lou McDonald to sack Mr Murphy as Stormont Finance Minister after the republican leader admitted her colleague had been wrong to brand Mrs Quinn’s son a smuggler and criminal.
The murder of Mr Quinn 13 years ago, and Sinn Féin’s response to it, has become a major issue in the General Election campaign, with rivals highlighting the party’s IRA links and accusing it of being soft on crime.
Mr Murphy, a Sinn Féin representative for Newry and Armagh, apologised for his 2007 comments about Mr Quinn, saying: “I have consistently and unreservedly condemned the murder of Paul Quinn.
“Those who murdered him are criminals and need to be brought to justice.
“I repeat my call on anyone with any information on his murder to bring it to the Gardai or the PSNI.
“I apologise for those remarks and I unreservedly withdraw them.
“Once again I offer to meet the Quinn family at a time and place of their convenience.”
Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy has apologised to the family of Paul Quinn for remarks he made about the 21-year-old after he was murdered in October 2007 | Read more: https://t.co/wxh9l03OAs pic.twitter.com/KIiEBglJIk— RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 5, 2020
In an interview with the PA news agency today, Mrs McDonald said she would not remove Mr Murphy from his position.
“There’s absolutely no question of that,” she said.
During the last TV election debate involving the main party leaders last night, Mrs McDonald said Mr Murphy was retracting the comments he made in 2007 and will apologise to the Quinn family.
She said his remarks were wrong and had caused additional hurt and grief to Mr Quinn’s parents.
Mrs Quinn has said she will not meet Mr Murphy until he apologises publicly for branding her son a criminal.
“He is not fit to be in government,” she told BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show. “Mary Lou (McDonald) should just step him down.”
She added: “Has he any idea what we are going through, what he has put us through?”
Mr Quinn, a 21-year-old from Cullyhanna in south Armagh, was beaten to death by a gang of around a dozen men in a farm shed across the border near Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.