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Man arrested over Paul Quinn murder was shot by dissidents

Michael Bellew from Cullyhanna, who was arrested in connection with the murder of Paul Quinn

THE man arrested by gardaí investigating the murder of Paul Quinn is a south Armagh farmer who was shot in both legs by a dissident republican group.

Michael Bellew was being held at Carrickmacross Garda station on Thursday night as farm land belonging to his family was searched by a specialist team.

Mr Quinn (21) was beaten to death in a barn at Oram, Co Monaghan in October 2007.

He was found at farm buildings in Tullycoora and died in hospital several weeks later.

No-one has been charged with his murder, which was believed to have been carried out by members of the Provisional IRA.

An excavation team moved onto the farm near Castleblayney yesterday as a field close to the border was scanned using specialist equipment.

It is thought gardai received information that evidence relating to the murder may have been on the land, with reports suggesting a vehicle may have been found.

In November 2013, Michael Bellew was beaten with baseball bats and shot in both legs in the kitchen of his Cullyhanna farmhouse by a masked gang.

He was in a wheelchair for three months after the attack and needed metal rods in his legs.

In a statement to the Irish News at the time, dissident group Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH) claimed responsibility.

It accused Mr Bellew of placing "the lives of volunteers at risk of death or capture as well as risking the capture of equipment belonging to the organisation".

The group blamed the then 48-year-old and other mainstream republicans of assisting the PSNI to thwart a planned attack on security forces.

Mr Bellew denied the claims and said he had been subject to a campaign of intimidation.

While he lives in Northern Ireland, his family's land straddles the border and it is farmland in the Republic that was subject to searches yesterday.

It is not thought that Mr Bellew's name was previously one of those that had been connected to the killing.

Speaking to the Irish News on Thursday, Stephen Quinn said it was "of great comfort" to the family to know that gardai are still actively investigating the murder of his son.

"The guards have told us they'll never give up until they get justice for Paul and for that we're very grateful," he said.

"We've taken comfort that there has been some progress in the case and can only hope that we get a good result this time."

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