| 6.7°C Belfast

Armed patrols to keep Quinn directors safe following fresh death threats



Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Kevin Lunney

Tiger-kidnap security protocols have been installed at the homes of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) directors following fresh death threats against senior staff.

Armed police on both sides of the border have also been carrying out round-the-clock patrols near the homes of QIH directors to prevent further serious incidents.

It comes over a month after chief operations officer Kevin Lunney was abducted from outside his Fermanagh home before being taken to Cavan and tortured for more than two hours.

This week he returned to his desk for a short period of time in what has been described as a "major morale boost" for both Mr Lunney and staff at the company.

Over the weekend, in a statement to the Irish News, a fresh threat was issued against the directors of QIH calling on them to resign or face a "permanent solution" if they do not act on "your last warning".

The five directors have been formally warned by the Garda and PSNI of credible threats against them.

Sources have now said that directors have increased security measures at their homes following advice from both police forces.

This includes the installing of security alarms which initiate protocols similar to that of tiger kidnappings, according to a source familiar with the arrangements.

Tiger kidnappings normally target a bank official where they, or their family, are abducted before the official is forced to withdraw large sums of money from a financial institution.

However, given the serious risk to the lives of QIH directors, security alerts to prevent tiger kidnappings have also been put in place at their properties to combat the major threat against them.

A source said: "Once it is triggered it cannot be de-escalated, and it results in a robust armed police response."

The significant security upgrades have been introduced after directors were warned of the credible threats.

Gardai issued directors with Garda Information Messages - also known as GIM forms - after receiving credible intelligence of serious threats on them.

Similar security advice was also issued to directors living in Northern Ireland by the PSNI.

In the wake of the abduction and assault of Mr Lunney, gardai - mainly unarmed officers - had carried out patrols near the homes of QIH directors. However, this has since been increased to include members of the Armed Support Unit (ASU), who are now understood have a 24/7 presence in and around the homes of the senior staff members.

"Armed officers in the Q7 Jeeps are now a regular sight on an around-the-clock basis near the homes," a source said, with similar preventative arrangements understood to be in place in the north for QIH directors living there.

Speaking on RTE Radio 1's Drivetime yesterday evening, Tony Lunney said that his brother Kevin is healing but that the ordeal has been both mentally and physically tough.

Commenting of the most recent death threats, Tony Lunney said: "It's crazy, it doesn't make any sense whatsoever, it's like a bad dream but you have to take it seriously.

"There has been intimidation going on for years now and we always thought, maybe, possibly it would fizzle out or settle down but what happened to Kevin, he was left for dead, you can't underestimate any threat."

The five directors of QIH - Kevin and Tony Lunney, John McCartin, Liam McCaffrey and Dara O'Reilly - have not yet met with the Garda Commissioner but Tony Lunney said it is hoped that this may happen next week.

Yesterday Garda Commissioner Drew Harris rejected accusations that the border region is becoming a lawless zone.

When Mr Harris was asked if the border region was becoming a "lawless zone" after the attacks, he said: "I want to address this issue - I do not accept that the border area is lawless."

Belfast Telegraph