Belfast Telegraph

'Paid criminals' carried out attack on Kevin Lunney, says Quinn chief

Kevin Lunney was abducted and seriously assaulted (Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA)
Kevin Lunney was abducted and seriously assaulted (Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA)

A vicious attack on Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director Kevin Lunney was likely carried out by "paid criminals", the chief executive of the organisation has said.

Liam McCaffrey told the BBC he believed criminals from outside the area were being paid to carry out attacks on Quinn staff.

Mr Lunney was abducted near his Fermanagh home last month and tortured before being dumped over the border in Co Cavan.

It follows a sustained campaign of attacks on Quinn management by elements who wish to see former owner Sean Quinn return to the company.

Kevin Lunney's brother Tony, who is also a member of the Quinn management, told RTE that when his brother's car was found on fire after the attack, he initially believed he might be inside.

Tony Lunney has also been subject to the campaign of harassment against Quinn staff, with his daughter's car being set on fire outside the family home.

Mr Lunney said that he hoped the attack on his brother would bring to an end the targeting of his family.

"Some good has to come from Kevin’s terrible suffering," he said.

Despite a joint PSNI and Gardai investigation attacks have continued since Kevin Lunney's abduction. Fifteen bales of silage owned by Tony Lunney were slashed earlier this month.

Mr McCaffrey said the evidence "points to criminals from well outside of the area being paid by somebody to come into the area and carry out that attack on Kevin".

Arlene Foster and Tony Lunney
Arlene Foster and Tony Lunney

Mr Lunney suffered "life-changing" injuries in the attack, his face and chest were slashed and his leg was broken in two places.

"The purpose of the attack seemed to be to scare him and threaten other executives to resign from the business," Mr McCaffrey said.

The Quinn chief executive said he felt the attack had been timed to take place the evening before a board meeting to discuss investment in QIH.

"So I think it was clearly orchestrated, the timing of that attack was clearly orchestrated to disrupt the workings of the company and disrupt that board meeting," he said.

Mr McCaffrey said that Mr Lunney had suffered during the "horrific episode".

"Kevin is recovering physically. His leg was broken in two places below his knee, but he's walking again with the aid of crutches," he said.

Workers from Quinn Industrial Holdings gathered at head office in Derrylin for an event to show solidarity with director Kevin Lunney, who was abducted and beaten by a masked gang (Brian Lawless/PA)
Workers from Quinn Industrial Holdings gathered at head office in Derrylin for an event to show solidarity with director Kevin Lunney, who was abducted and beaten by a masked gang (Brian Lawless/PA)

"His right arm was battered, probably in an effort to break it as well.

"His lacerations are beginning to heal, but obviously it's a huge trauma in his life and it's going to take a period for Kevin to reach full recovery.

"Not only the physical ordeal that Kevin went through for a two-and-a-half hour period, but also for his family over that period of time to not know if he was dead or alive, to not know whether he was coming back to them."

Mr McCaffrey described previous police efforts to investigate attacks on Quinn staff and their property as a "failure".

Speaking last month PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne denied that police could have done more.

He said it was "too early to rush to the hindsight test" and that "this particular escalation in violence came out of nowhere".

Kevin Lunney horror attack
Kevin Lunney horror attack

Mr McCaffrey said police had stepped up their efforts following the attack on Mr Lunney.

"I think since the attack on Kevin the policing effort, both the PSNI and the Garda have responded well and it has been escalated I think to the right level," he said.

"I think in all honesty prior to that, maybe because it went on for so many years unnoticed or went on at a level it almost became, they used to have an expression in the Troubles that this was an acceptable level of violence."

He said that further efforts may be required if police didn't apprehend those behind Mr Lunney's attack.

"I think both governments might need to look at an alternative structure for a properly resourced cross-border team, a specialist team to get involved to bring this to an end because it's gone on for far too long," the Quinn chief said.

Mr McCaffrey said the attacks were threatening the future of QIH.

Liam McCaffrey
Liam McCaffrey

"It's something I'm very concerned about. When we took over the company there were 630-odd jobs there, now there's 830," he said.

"But you need to keep reinvesting. It's very hard to do that against this backdrop, and it's very hard for us to go to outside financiers and say: 'Give us your money. It's safe in this area'.

"That's very difficult to do and if we can't continue to do that and continue to sustain that then, yes, the company and the jobs are at risk."

Last week former QIH owner Sean Quinn said he no longer wanted to retake control of the companies following the attack on Mr Lunney.

“People can say whatever they want about me but I don’t want to be seen as being the beneficiary of abuse or criminal activity,” he said.

A Garda spokesperson said they had made a number of arrests in relation to Quinn staff with files being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

"One individual has been subject of a European Arrest Warrant," the spokesperson said. 

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