Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Quinn Group workers stage walkout

Protesters have demanded Sean Quinn is freed while talks take place
Protesters block the entrances of the cement and glass plants in the Derrylin and Ballyconnell areas of Co Fermanagh and Co Cavan

Workers at the Quinn Group have staged a one day walkout at its factories on the Irish border in the wake of the jailing of their former billionaire boss Sean Quinn, once Ireland's richest man.

Protesters used tractors and other agricultural vehicles to block the entrances of the cement and glass plants in the Derrylin and Ballyconnell areas of Co Fermanagh and Co Cavan.

Among their demands is immediate mediation between the former Anglo Irish Bank and the Quinn family over the long running debt row that culminated with the imprisonment of the fallen tycoon last Friday. Protesters have also demanded Quinn's release while the talks take place.

"We have no interest in covering old ground and we make no pronouncements on the rights and wrongs of either party in this pointless dispute," said a statement issued by Quinn Group employees, local businesses and communities. "We demand, however, a resolution that will save our jobs, our communities and our future livelihoods."

The Quinn Group went into administration in the wake of its founder's dramatic fall from grace and workers have expressed concern for their futures under new management. The 66-year-old was jailed in Dublin's High Court over a multimillion-euro asset-stripping plot.

He was sentenced to nine weeks for contempt of court for his part in putting the Quinn family's 500 million euro international property portfolio out of the reach of Anglo, now rebranded as Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), and a subsequent failure to retrieve the money.

The IBRC claims the broke businessman owes it a total of 2.8 billion euro after running up unprecedented losses through secret stock investments in Anglo as its share price collapsed. The family admit they owe 455 million euro but have refused the claims on the rest and have taken a counter-case against the IBRC over a loans deal.

A spokeswoman for the Quinn Manufacturing Group stressed that the dispute between the Quinn family and the IBRC had nothing to do with the current management at the factories.

"Protest actions have this morning disrupted the operations of our manufacturing plants in Derrylin and Ballyconnell and are currently being dealt with by the PSNI and the Gardai," she said.

"These protests are linked to an ongoing legal dispute between the Quinn family and IBRC and are nothing to do with Quinn Manufacturing Group - which has no influence on these matters. Quinn Manufacturing Group employs over 1,000 people in the Cavan/Fermanagh area and we call on the people behind these protests to desist as they will only serve to have a negative effect on our businesses and damage employment prospects in the area."

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