Person 1: What’s all this about Paul Quinn? Who is he?
Person 2: He’s a young man from South Armagh who was brutally murdered by a gang of men in 2007.
Person 1: Yuck. Sounds ghastly.
Person 2: Apparently it was. I could give you details but I won’t.
Person 1: Thanks for that. But why is it in the news now?
Person 2: Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy at the time asked the local IRA if they were involved and they said they weren’t.
Person 1: Did anyone else agree with him?
Person 2: Yes indeed. The Taoiseach at the time, Bertie Ahern, said he believed it was part of a criminal feud.
Person 1: Did he base this belief on anything?
Person 2: He did. Reports from from both the gardaí and the PSNI, he said, who judged it was part of a criminal feud.
Person 1: Well, that’s that, then.
Person 2: Not quite. Paul Quinn’s mother has called on Conor Murphy to apologise for suggesting her son had any criminal links, to give the names of the people he spoke to back then to the PSNI, and to resign as Finance Minister.
Person 1: Crikey. Doesn’t seem to believe Bertie, then. Or the cops.
Person 2: It appears not.
Person 1: But all this happened in 2007, you say?
Person 2: It did.
Person 1: So why this sudden attention to the case? Has it anything to do with the election coming up on Saturday?
Person 2: Pass.
Person 1: But presumably Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have scrupulously avoided making this young man’s death an election issue?
Person 2: Au contraire. They’ve been using it like there were just three days to voting day and Sinn Féin were top of the last opinion poll.
Person 1: Yuck. A bit distasteful, that.
Person 2: But not unique.
Person 1: How’d you mean?
Person 2: Well, when Martin McGuinness was running for president in 2011, a man jumped in front of the TV cameras and accused him of knowing who killed his father.
Person 1: Oh.
Person 2: And in 2014, just before voting day, Gerry Adams was arrested about the death of Jean McConville.
Person 1: Mmm. Something of a pattern emerging then.
Person 2: There were those who predicted the kitchen sink would be thrown at the Shinners this week.
Person 1: But I’m sure Leo and Micheál are purely motivated by compassion for Mrs Quinn.
Person 2: You may be right. Both men have big hearts. Which ache over carefully selected tragedies.
Person 1: So housing and health are no longer top of the agenda in this election?
Person 2: Well yes. Except Leo and Micheál and the media both sides of the border seem to have largely shelved those issues.
Person 1: So are Leo and Micheál hoping to make political capital out of this tragedy?
Person 2: What a shocking thing to say. Leo and Micheál are honourable men. As are the members of their parties. They are all honorable men. And women.
Person 1: That sounds like Shakespeare. Julius Caesar?
Person 2: Correct. Mark Antony’s speech at Caesar’s graveside. He used Caesar’s death to whip up the mob.
Person 1: But that was just a play. Not real life.
Person 2: Of course.
Person 1: Are the voters raising the Quinn case at the doorstep?
Person 2: Don’t think so. More houses and jobs and health, really.
Person 1: But Leo and Micheál are – you surely don’t mean Leo and Micheál are using this death – which happened thirteen years ago – as a way of halting Sinn Féin’s rise in the polls?
Person 2: What a shocking thing to say. See you on Saturday. Toodle-pip.