Belfast Telegraph

Priest urges those responsible for Kevin Lunney kidnap to stop violence before someone loses their life

Plea: Fr Gerard Alwill
Plea: Fr Gerard Alwill

By Annamay McNally

Churchgoers in Co Fermanagh have heard an impassioned plea from a priest who urged the gang behind the terrifying kidnap and torture of businessman Kevin Lunney to "stop before somebody gets killed".

Speaking during weekend masses in the Parish of Derrylin, Fr Gerard Alwill described the attack on the father-of-six, who is one of a number of under-threat directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) in the village, as "totally abhorrent to all decent people".

Mr Lunney, chief operating officer at QIH, was travelling home from work to Kinawley at around 6.40pm on Tuesday evening when he was targeted.

He was found by members of the public at 9pm on the side of the road at Drumcoughill, Cornafean, Co Cavan.

Despite locking himself in his car, Mr Lunney was dragged from his vehicle by his attackers and taken to an unknown location where he was subjected to a savage beating during where his fingernails were pulled out and he was doused with bleach.

Addressing congregations in Derrylin this weekend, Fr Alwill said there was "no way" he could avoid speaking about the events of the past week.

"I know that there are those who might say that I have no right to open my mouth on these issues, that I'm only what used to be called 'a blow-in'," he told those attending services in the parish.

"That may be true. I have only been here for two years and it's also true that I don't know all the ins-and-outs of the issues that have led up to the current situation.

"But what I do know are the values that we as a Christian community uphold and try to live up to in our own lives.

"What happened last week runs totally against those Christian values: the values of mutual respect for each other, the values of love of one another."

He added: "Not only does this barbaric act run contrary to our Christian values, but it also runs totally against our own natural human values. What happened was totally abhorrent to all decent people."

He said the attack ran "contrary to every sinew of human decency" and reflected the horror and disgust of the community at the "sheer heartlessness" which had inflicted such suffering on Mr Lunney's wife, children and wider family.

"Sure, people have the right to hold different opinions on certain issues and people have the right to air such opinions," he continued.

"But nobody, nobody, has the right to inflict such an appalling and vicious onslaught on any man or woman, or on any family. In Christian eyes, there can be no justification whatsoever for such actions."

The Derrylin cleric said he had witnessed a growing feeling of anger, resentment and revulsion among the local community following the events of the past week.

"Those who have spoken to me have mentioned their sense of shock, their sense of outrage and their sense of disbelief that such a terrible thing could happen here," he said.

"Many feel helpless and afraid, with no one to speak on their behalf. All I can do, as your parish priest, is to give voice to those emotions, and to say, on your behalf, that there can be no room for such violence in a Christian community such as ours.

"In the name of God, and in the name of our community, we ask these people to stop the violence now.

"There has to be a better way of resolving these issues. In the name of God - stop before somebody gets killed."

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