Belfast Telegraph

Detectives probing Kevin Lunney attack hunt for white Transit van

The Quinn chief executive was kidnapped, badly beaten and tortured during an assault last week.

Kevin Lunney (Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA)
Kevin Lunney (Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

Detectives investigating the kidnap and assault of Fermanagh businessman Kevin Lunney have appealed for information on a white Ford Transit van.

The Quinn chief executive was kidnapped, badly beaten and tortured during an assault last week.

Gardai said the high-roof van is in poor condition and may have a loose, “screeching” fan belt. It also has a distinctive painted red floor in the rear cargo area.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said: “We are anxious to know about the movements of that tall white Ford Transit van.”

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Drew Harris and Simon Byrne at the Cross Border Organised Crime Conference (Brian Lawless/PA)

He appealed to anyone who knows the vehicle or who owns it to contact gardai or the PSNI.

Mr Harris also said a new armed support unit will be in operation in Cavan from Monday and 20 new gardai will be assigned in border counties in November.

He denied suggestions that gardai have failed to protect senior executives at Quinn Industrial Holdings, who have faced threats for several years, as well as people living on the border.

There have been around 70 incidents throughout a five-year campaign of violence and intimidation directed at the management that has been running QIH since the fall of Sean Quinn, who was once Ireland’s richest man.

Mr Harris said: “We have in place a specific operation which has been in place now since 2011 and all of the 70 incidents have been subject of investigation.

“There have been arrests and files have been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“In respect of the dreadful attack last Tuesday evening, there is a joint investigation going on and we are sharing information and evidence with each other, but also that investigation is very active, it is not short of resources.”

Mr Harris moved to assure local residents, saying gardai are working to protect them.

He made the comments at the Cross Border Organised Crime Conference in Co Cavan, close to where the attack took place.

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said the escalation of violence “came out of nowhere”.

He added: “We are both determined that in terms of the investigative opportunities on either side of the border that we exploit and make sure that information we get from our own inquiries or indeed the public, so they will be crucial in solving this crime.

“We have had an uplift in our budget this year to recruit more officers in relation to Brexit and we are putting 190 extra officers into the border areas to raise our levels of presence.”

Mr Lunney, chief operating officer at QIH, sustained “life-changing” injuries in the attack.

The father of six was attacked as he arrived at his home in Derrylin last Tuesday. He was driven away before being subjected to a beating at an unknown location.

Mr Harris refused to speculate about the perpetrators.

“They are vicious individuals, given the nature of the attack that was conducted. They had some degree of organisation, there is no doubt about that,” he added.

He said local people should not be afraid to come forward, adding that he did not want to “big up” the gang responsible.

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Charlie Flanagan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland’s Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan visited the headquarters of QIH in Ballyconnell where he met executives.

Mr Flanagan said: “I heard first hand of their experience and I was pleased to have the opportunity to brief them on the assurances that are necessary in order to maintain the rule of law.

“I acknowledge there has been a history of intimidation and attacks.

“Nobody in our community is above the law. We are now seeing an intensifying investigation. No stone will be left unturned in bringing these people to justice.”

PA

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