Belfast Telegraph

Quinn boss attack: ‘Everybody knows mood of the town, but we won’t say anything ... No one knows the full story’

Kevin Lunney
Kevin Lunney
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

Twelve miles from Enniskillen and just a stone's throw from the border with the Republic of Ireland, there's little doubt that Derrylin is Quinn country.

Towering over the village from three and a half miles away, the Quinn cement works overlook the rolling countryside.

Half a mile from there sits the sprawling head office of the Quinn Group. Anyone calling at the gates is warned 'no access under any circumstances'.

Security cameras keep watch on the car park. This is no ordinary office HQ at the best of times and the Quinn Group, as recent history has told us, is no ordinary company.

Yesterday, an unmarked police car sat a few hundred yards away for added security - an extra bolt on the stable door, but the horse fled the night before.

Across the road is the Quinn Innovation Centre, testimony that the company has brought so much to the area. Over 800 are currently employed, but now the jobs and the economic development seem to come at a price, as bitter feuds stemming from the collapse of the Quinn business empire in 2012 spill over into family life.

Half a mile outside the village, the entrance to the Lunney home is marked by a small stone bridge over a stream. The house is secluded, not visible from the roadside.

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Autumn sunshine streams down and it should be the scene of an idyllic country lifestyle. This is a part of the country where your money buys you more brick for your buck.

On Tuesday night the peace and tranquillity was shattered, and in a way that many had predicted was just around the corner.

In the village it seems most people have known Kevin Lunney for a long time. He's a familiar face, one of their own, born and bred.

The Lunney name sits proudly over shops in the main street.

And that's why, despite acknowledging him as a friend and a neighbour, none are being drawn any deeper into speculation.

"I've known Kevin a lifetime," one shop owner said. "But no-one knows the full story. Everyone in the town knows the mood of the town, but we won't be saying anything.

"There could be three, four different reasons why this has happened. Who's to know at this stage? It's a very complex situation."

Another shop and another man who has known the victim for a long time.

"He's a neighbour of mine, a lovely man and I won't be saying any more," he said.

You know words are being left unsaid. And there's one in particular absent from local mouths. Not once has the word 'shock' been uttered.

There's a nervousness in the air. It's almost as if something like Tuesday night's abduction and brutal assault on Mr Lunney was expected. People knew it would come unless something was done to stop the series of attacks on the senior staff at Quinn International Holdings.

Stronger words are, instead, left to others from outside the immediate gaze of the Quinn cement works.

DUP leader Arlene Foster called the attack "totally abhorrent". She added: "Nobody should have to live in fear of attack or indeed abduction as a result of their job. I hope those responsible face the courts as a result of their actions."

Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew has said she was "appalled". "This is not just an horrific assault on Kevin and his family, but on jobs and stability in Fermanagh. It has caused widespread disgust within the wider community," she said.

The UUP's Rosemary Barton MLA said the attack was "sickening".

"This is an outrageous and heinous act on a hard-working man going about his daily business," she added.

"Crimes like this must not be tolerated in our society. This is disgusting and despicable."

"Horrific" was the word of choice for Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson.

"This is an attack on all the people of Fermanagh and Cavan, carried out by thugs who offer nothing to our society," he said.

SDLP councillor Adam Gannon went with "depraved".

"It's hard to imagine the kind of person who abducts someone, beats them and dumps them 20 miles across the border," he said.

"Those involved in this brutal attack are absolutely depraved and need to be brought to justice."

All call for anyone with information to contact police, and that's where the local community will look to as well.

They don't want the words. They want the attacks to stop. They want workers to be able to go about their daily lives without looking over their shoulders. There is no real 'shock' in Derrylin, just a fear that the next time their community will be dealing with a fatality.

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