Belfast Telegraph

Quinn Company chief executive's 'terrible fears' as up to 20 men involved in Kevin Lunney attack

Quinn Industrial Holdings headquarters near Derrylin
Quinn Industrial Holdings headquarters near Derrylin

By Maeve Sheehan and Hugh O'Connell

The chief executive of a company formerly owned by Sean Quinn has revealed his "terrible fear" that the police investigation into the savage attack on a director will not be enough to protect the business and staff from an eight-year campaign of terror.

Liam McCaffrey said the company has been left "on its own" after past attacks, but that it cannot be left "so naked" again following the kidnap and paramilitary-style assault on his colleague and friend Kevin Lunney last week.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr McCaffrey said: "My terrible fear - and it has happened every time - this is worse than anything else by a long mark, but what's happened every other occasion is we get all sorts of attention for a period of days and all of a sudden we are on our own again.

"That can't happen this time. We've got to see this through to whatever the resolution is. We can't be left so naked here to try to run a company with 830 staff depending on us… We've enough to be doing with that, rather than try to figure out what criminal gang is coming after us."

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Kevin Lunney horror attack

Mr McCaffrey said the attack was "sponsored" and called for a high-level joint police investigation, to find out who was behind it. "They were paid criminals carrying out instructions to probably a significant level of detail," he said. "The critical thing is there is a pattern here - this has gone on for eight years."

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan yesterday admitted that the "culture of intimidation" in the Border area, dating back to the Troubles, could hamper the investigation into the attack.

"I acknowledge the particular sensitivities in that area, because of a culture of intimidation. That's why there is a specific garda confidential line to deal exclusively with anybody who has any information, however minor they think it might be," he said.

"I am appealing to everybody in these communities and particularly those with influence, to exercise that influence, to assist gardai and the PSNI with what is an urgent criminal investigation."

The savage attack on Mr Lunney, who is chief operating officer with Quinn Industrial Holdings, marks a sharp escalation in the campaign of intimidation waged against the company and its directors for the past eight years. It is expected the company will meet with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris in the coming weeks, according to sources.

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Kevin Lunney (Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA)

New details have emerged of the brutal abduction of Mr Lunney. Garda now believe at least four people were directly involved in the two-hour attack, but between 12 and 20 people were involved in its planning.

The gang delivered a chilling message to Mr Lunney, to the effect that he and the other four named directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings must resign from the company or be shot. He was beaten with baseball bats and stabbed in the face and neck.

Some of his fingernails were pulled out and he was doused in bleach. Gardai suspect the gang responsible comprised of dissident republicans and criminals involved in cross-border smuggling and racketeering.

Mr McCaffrey called for a high-level joint police task force on both sides of the Border "to deal with this once and for all. To find those carrying it out and to find those who are sponsoring it."

Mr McCaffrey visited Mr Lunney in hospital last Friday. "He is recovering well. His leg seems to be a lot better since he had surgery. His mind is clear and he is in a positive mood, remarkably so, given what he has been through."

Sean Quinn condemned the attack on Mr Lunney on local radio last week. Asked by the Sunday Independent if he has contacted Mr Lunney or had a message for his family, Sean Quinn said: "No. I have not been speaking to Kevin Lunney or any of the Lunneys now in five years."

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