Belfast Telegraph

My family is not to blame for 'barbaric' kidnapping, insists Quinn

The silver BMW which was involved in the abduction of Kevin Lunney near Kinawley, Co Fermanagh
The silver BMW which was involved in the abduction of Kevin Lunney near Kinawley, Co Fermanagh
Kevin Lunney
Mr Lunney's car was burned out

By Shane Phelan

Former billionaire Sean Quinn has said his family is being wrongly blamed for the abduction and torture of one of his former executives.

In his first comments since the savage attack on Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) operations director Kevin Lunney, Mr Quinn (below) condemned what had happened as "barbaric".

But he also said relatives had told him his family was being blamed.

Mr Lunney and other directors of QIH have been subject of several attacks and acts of intimidation in recent years from people purporting to be supporters of Mr Quinn.

The company was formed by local businessmen with the backing of US hedge funds from the ashes of the Quinn Group after Mr Quinn slid into bankruptcy following disastrous stock market bets on Anglo Irish Bank.

He was brought in as a consultant by QIH in 2015, but left the following year and has failed in efforts to buy shares in the company. QIH said his departure was "by mutual agreement", but Mr Quinn says he was "sacked".

Speaking on Shannonside Radio, Mr Quinn said: "My reaction would be the same as anybody else. It would be a sense of outrage."

He continued: "It would appear to me to be a fairly barbaric attack … Any proper individual, anybody with any sense or any morals, would of course condemn that.

"That man has a wife and kids. Of course you would condemn it totally."

But the former billionaire questioned why the finger of blame was being pointed in the direction of his family.

"My family has been on and they are outraged as well. They have been on to me that 'we are going to take the flak for this and we have been blamed for this and that some people will look our direction at it'," he said.

Mr Quinn said he had "no correspondence or no dealings, no arguments, no fights" with QIH since his departure.

"I don't want to be seen as trying to push it off and only condemning it partially. I am condemning it totally and absolutely. There is no way around that. I am just saying it shouldn't still be linked that Sean Quinn is the man that has to condemn this," he said.

Mr Quinn claimed there was "an awful lot of conflict" in relation to the company in recent times in the form of legal proceedings issued against "former directors, managers, staff, neighbours and friends".

But he insisted he was not caught up in the conflict.

QIH director John McCartin said any condemnation of the attack by Mr Quinn was of little comfort. "What we need is not only those who directly perpetrate these crimes to be brought to heel, but whoever is instigating, procuring and paying for them also to be brought to heel," he said.

Yesterday, two leading Northern Ireland trade bodies condemned the "vicious" attack on Mr Lunney. Gordon Best, regional director of the Mineral Products Association NI, said the attack had come as a "real shock to us all".

"Kevin is held in high regard right across the construction materials and manufacturing industry in Ireland and further afield," he added.

"In fact I met with Kevin just two weeks ago when Quinn Building Products hosted our health and safety committee in Derrylin.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Kevin and his family at this difficult time and we wish him a speedy recovery."

Stephen Kelly, CEO of Manufacturing NI, said: "The unwarranted assault on Kevin is also an attack on the 830 employees at Quinn's, the whole community in and around Derrylin where the company provides so many jobs and support the local economy, and the entire manufacturing industry across Ireland.

"Kevin and his family are very much in our thoughts and this time and I want to assure him of our best wishes," he added.

Mr Best and Mr Kelly also said that they would be seeking a meeting with the PSNI Chief Constable, Simon Byrne, to discuss this "vile" attack on one of their members' directors and to examine in what way their associations can assist the police on both sides of the border to stop the attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice.

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