Belfast Telegraph

Council is rapped over letter of support for Sean Quinn

By Anna Maguire

A Northern Ireland council has been heavily criticised for sending a letter of support to Sean Quinn and his family.

Councillors in the bankrupt billionaire’s home county of Fermanagh agreed to send the letter at a meeting on Monday night.

It followed a proposal by independent representative Bernice Swift.

Ms Swift could not be contacted yesterday.

However, a spokeswoman for Fermanagh District Council said the letter acknowledged the significant economic contribution made by Sean Quinn (right) in the area.

She said: “In light of the significant contribution by the Quinn family to the economic and community wellbeing of Fermanagh and the border area, the council took a decision to write acknowledging that this was a very difficult time for the family.”

The letter will be sent to the bankrupt tycoon today. But the move has been slammed by politicians, including elected members of Fermanagh District Council.

South Belfast MLA Anna Lo chairs the Assembly’s environment committee — the department under whose remit Northern Ireland’s 26 local councils fall.

She described the decision to send the letter as unwise.

Ms Lo said: “I really want to express my surprise that they (Fermanagh District Council) have taken this move.”

In July Sean Quinn jnr received a three-month sentence in Dublin for contempt of court.

He was sentenced alongside his cousin, Peter Darragh Quinn.

But he has avoided being put behind bars by remaining in Northern Ireland.

The duo — along with Sean Quinn snr — fell foul of the republic’s courts for attempting to keep details of a €500m (£400m) property empire from the former Anglo Irish Bank.

Yesterday Ms Lo said: “I think it’s wise for politicians, locally elected politicians, to keep out of it.”

The decision will be raised at the next meeting of the environment committee, she added.

Cyril Brownlee, a Fermanagh DUP councillor who attended Monday night’s meeting, said he was unaware of Ms Swift’s proposal prior to the meeting.

He said: “I feel there is no call for the letter at this present time.”

Responding to the criticism, Brendan Hegarty, chief executive of Fermanagh District Council, said: “In terms of what was proposed at the meeting for the contents of the letter... nothing in it referred in any form to the ongoing legal case.”

Background

Sean Quinn jnr, son of the bankrupt Fermanagh billionaire, received a three-month sentence in July for contempt of court. He was sentenced with his cousin Peter Darragh Quinn, who did not attend the court. A warrant for his arrest was issued in Dublin. The duo — along with Sean Quinn snr — fell foul of the court for attempting to keep details of a €500m (£400m) property empire from the former Anglo Irish Bank. The former Anglo Irish Bank was bailed out by the Irish taxpayers. It is now controlled by the Irish Banking Resolution Company.

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