Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

High-profile Quinn supporters stay silent in wake of protest

Figures from GAA and television yesterday ducked for cover when asked to comment on their involvement in a rally supporting fallen tycoon Sean Quinn.

The bankrupt Fermanagh businessman appeared before a crowd of 4,000 supporters who gathered in his Ballyconnell heartland on Sunday. They were there to protest at the treatment of a man who created thousands of jobs in their area and was always generous to the local community.

Tyrone football boss Mickey Harte, Meath legend Colm O'Rourke, All-Ireland winning Armagh boss Joe Kernan and outspoken priest Fr Brian D'Arcy all addressed the crowd and declared their support for Mr Quinn.

However, all four yesterday failed to return calls and emails asking for comments on why they had attended the event. Former Meath boss Sean Boylan, who also addressed the rally, was at a family funeral and could not comment.

Separately, Fine Gael MEP and former GAA president Sean Kelly took to his local radio station to praise the people of Ballyconnell for coming out in support of the Quinns.

“We'd probably be doing the exact same thing down here in Kerry,” he told Radio Kerry.

“If somebody who was very loyal to us... was having difficulties we'd probably say ‘listen, while things are difficult for you at the moment, we'll give you moral support.’”

Mr Kelly could not be reached for further comment last night.

But a spokesman for Fine Gael said the comments were Mr Kelly's “own opinion”. “The party's view is still that the judicial process should be observed,” the spokesman said, pointing out that Mr Kelly also respected the judicial process.

The high-profile guests were invited because organisers wanted to convince the “Dublin media” and others that there were concerns about what was happening to the Quinns.

Despite its huge size, the rally had only been in the planning for three days after the idea was born at a local meeting last Thursday. Those in attendance are believed to have included members of local lobby groups Concerned Irish Citizens and Concerned Irish Businesses, as well as a number of other local groups and GAA clubs.

The Quinns weren't at the original meeting.

The rally was attended by all of Mr Quinn's children except his son, who is in jail, and daughter Ciara, who is expecting a baby soon. Mr Quinn jnr's wife Karen was also there.

Factfile

Tycoon Sean Quinn’s gambles on Anglo shares hit the family with a €2.8bn (£2.19bn) debt and a jailed son. Peter Darragh Quinn and his cousin Sean Quinn Jnr have been sentenced to three months in jail for contempt of court. ‘PD’ is on the run in Northern Ireland and cannot be extradited in a civil case.

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