Belfast Telegraph

PSNI chief rejects ‘no-go areas’ claim in probe into Quinn attacks

Simon Byrne acknowledged that people will judge the police response to the attack on Kevin Lunney on whether they make arrests.

Simon Byrne (Liam McBurney/PA)
Simon Byrne (Liam McBurney/PA)

By David Young, PA

Northern Ireland’s police chief has rejected suggestions the criminals targeting Quinn executives are operating with impunity in policing “no-go” areas.

Simon Byrne acknowledged that people will ultimately judge the police response to the brutal attack on Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney on whether they make arrests and bring the perpetrators to justice.

No one has yet been detained in connection with September’s abduction and beating near the Fermanagh/Cavan border that left the father of six with life-changing injuries.

The PSNI and Garda are working together on the cross-border investigation.

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Kevin Lunney (Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA)

Last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described recent criminal activity in border counties as “lawlessness”.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris subsequently insisted the border was not a lawless zone.

Mr Byrne was asked about the incident at a Policing Board event in Belfast on Tuesday.

“It’s an awful crime,” he said.

“And we recognise that the big question on people’s lips is when we will make arrests, and I am conscious that’s probably one of the tests that many people apply to this investigation.

“We’re working very closely with the guards on this inquiry. And I pay tribute to the support we’ve had from Drew Harris and his colleagues.”

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Drew Harris (Brian Lawless/PA)

He said police had stepped up patrols in the area and, like Mr Harris, he also rejected the characterisation of the area as lawless.

“I don’t recognise that either,” he said.

“I’ve been there personally. I’ve spoken to officers that patrol that area. They don’t, they would not recognise that there are no-go areas – not just in the border, but frankly, right across Northern Ireland.

“We have a legitimate mandate to police the whole country. And I’m confident we can do that.”

The attack on Mr Lunney was the latest in a series targeting the companies and directors that now control the business portfolio that was built up by fallen tycoon Sean Quinn.

A sinister element in the community in the Fermanagh/Cavan border area continues to vent anger at the demise of Mr Quinn’s empire.

The Quinn family has consistently condemned and distanced itself from those attacking the new owners.

PA

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