A senior executive in the companies once owned by billionaire Sean Quinn sustained life-changing injuries when he was abducted and beaten by a masked gang, police have said.
Father-of-six Kevin Lunney was attacked as he arrived at his home in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, at around 6.40pm on Tuesday evening.
Mr Lunney, a director at Quinn Industrial Holdings, was driven away before being subjected to a “severe and savage” beating at an unknown location, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Superintendent Clive Beatty said.
The 50-year-old was then driven away again before being dumped at Drumcoughill, Cornafean in Co Cavan across the Irish border, where a passer-by found him.
The attack was the latest in a series targeting the companies and directors that now control the business portfolio that was built up by fallen tycoon Mr Quinn.
A sinister element in the community in the Fermanagh/Cavan border area continues to vent anger at the demise of Mr Quinn’s empire.
The Quinn family has consistently condemned and distanced itself from those attacking the new owners.
On Wednesday, the family branded the abduction and beating of Mr Lunney as “despicable”.
Mr Beatty, who is working with Garda colleagues, said there had been an additional police presence around the premises of Quinn Industrial Holdings over the last two days, as a board of directors conference was being held.
“We have briefly spoken to Mr Lunney, he was able to tell us some information but his injuries are severe and savage,” said the officer.
“Although not life-threatening, they will be definitely life-changing and he is assisting us with the inquiry as much as he can.”
Mr Lunney sustained injuries to his legs, torso and face. One of his legs was broken.
Mr Beatty said the incident was the most serious of those targeting the company and its executives.
“We are at a very early stage of our investigation and we are keeping an open mind at this time, but this has been an ongoing situation in that area for some time, police are well aware of the complexities and difficulties that this has had, however we are using all our force and might to bring to justice those people who are committing offences in that area and against this company,” he said.
This is the most severe and savage attack that has been to date at this particular company or area and we are keeping an open mind as to who or what is behind thisSuperintendent Clive Beatty
The superintendent was challenged on why the police had yet to make one arrest in relation to the attacks in recent years.
“There are a number of lines of inquiry still ongoing about crimes that have been committed over the last two years,” said the officer.
“Those are still very much live investigations and I can’t discuss any further on our actions on that.”
He added: “This is the most severe and savage attack that has been to date at this particular company or area and we are keeping an open mind as to who or what is behind this.”
After a press conference in Enniskillen, Mr Beatty said Mr Lunney was arriving home when his vehicle was rammed by another vehicle and disabled.
“Mr Lunney locked himself in the vehicle but four masked men appeared, smashed the windows of Mr Lunney’s vehicles, forcibly removed him from the vehicle and bundled him into the boot of a black Audi saloon and drove him away from his home,” he said.
“They drove for a period of time to an unknown location whereupon he was removed from the vehicle and savagely beaten about the body.
“He sustained severe and brutal injuries to his legs, torso and face. After this savage attack, he was then bundled into another vehicle and driven for another short period of time and then he was dumped on the side of the road just outside Cavan to fend for himself with his severe injuries.”
We have had no involvement in the Quinn Group for several years now and are deeply frustrated and angered that our former ownership of those businesses is being associated in any way to such abhorrent actsQuinn family statement
In a statement on Wednesday, the Quinn family said: “We are absolutely horrified to hear of the terrible ordeal which Kevin Lunney has endured, and our thoughts are with Kevin and his family.
“We have had no involvement in the Quinn Group for several years now and are deeply frustrated and angered that our former ownership of those businesses is being associated in any way to such abhorrent acts.
“The Quinn family has repeatedly condemned these types of attacks in the strongest possible terms and we will always do so.
“The people that are carrying out these despicable acts are not doing so for our benefit in any shape or form and we are totally against this type of activity.”
Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) said Mr Lunney’s and another car were found ablaze in a road near his family home shortly before 7pm on Tuesday evening.
“Mr Lunney sustained a broken leg and range of other very severe, but non-life threatening, injuries for which he is being treated in a nearby hospital,” a spokesman said.
QIH chairman Adrian Barden said the incident was an “outrageous attack on a hard-working father of six children”.
“For several hours last evening, Kevin’s wife, family and very many friends were left to contemplate the worst.
“Like many of his colleagues, I am frustrated and angry that more has not been done to protect Kevin, who will require some considerable time to recover from the very severe injuries sustained in this brutal attack.
“We have previously warned of the inevitability of serious injury and loss of life arising from these sustained and increasingly serious criminal attacks.
“We are now calling for the police authorities north and south to act quickly and decisively to prevent an inevitable loss of life by bringing those responsible to justice.”
Totally abhorrent news coming from Fermanagh this morning. Nobody should have to live in fear of attack or indeed abduction as a result of their job. I hope those responsible face the courts as a result of their actions. Thinking of the family who went through last nights ordeal https://t.co/yIyPIhhWXd— Arlene Foster #WeâllMeetAgain (@DUPleader) September 18, 2019
In a tweet, DUP leader Arlene Foster condemned the assault and said it was “totally abhorrent”.
“Nobody should have to live in fear of attack or indeed abduction as a result of their job,” the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said.
“I hope those responsible face the courts as a result of their actions. Thinking of the family who went through last night’s ordeal.”
Fianna Fail TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith also condemned the incident and said those responsible must be brought to justice.
He said: “This is the latest in a series of attacks on members of Quinn Industrial Holdings and I am particularly concerned that no arrests have been made, either side of the border, to date.
“It is a campaign of intimidation and the gardai and the PSNI must work together to ensure it ends and those responsible are brought to justice.
“I wish Mr Lunney a speedy recovery, and I am thinking of him and his family at what must be a very frightening time.
“I reiterate again the need for these reprehensible thugs to be brought to justice and I hope they feel the full force of the law.”
Officers are appealing for information about a silver BMW and black Audi seen driving suspiciously in Derrylin on Tuesday evening.