Belfast Telegraph

Fianna Fail calls for cross-border statutory body after Kevin Lunney attack

The Quinn chief executive suffered life-changing injuries after he was kidnapped and beaten.

Kevin Lunney (Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA)
Kevin Lunney (Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

Fianna Fail will be tabling legislation for a new cross-border statutory body in the wake of the attack on businessman Kevin Lunney.

Quinn chief executive Kevin Lunney suffered life-changing injuries when he was kidnapped and badly beaten last Tuesday before being left at the side of the road in Co Cavan.

Mr Lunney was taken from his home in Fermanagh by a group of four masked men, before being dumped across the border in County Cavan and discovered by a farmer.

During Leaders’ Questions on Wednesday, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the attack was a reminder of the “terrible legacy in the border region” which did not end with the Good Friday Agreement.

“Groups of people trying to avoid forensic, getting people to isolated locations and beating people almost to death, so it’s a terrible legacy in the border region and we’ve got to face up to it.

“Certain paramilitaries carried on, enforcing and protecting a financial empire, the 2018 cross-border threat assessment say 43% of gangs in Northern Ireland have cross-border dimension.

“The time has come to establish a statutory cross-border multi-disciplinary agency with a specific budget and personnel to once and for all root this evil out.

“Task forces will not cut it anymore, people want go about their lives without threats and intimidation.”

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Mr Martin called for a cross-border approach to ‘root out the evil’ (Brian Lawless/PA)

Heather Humphries, standing in for the Taoiseach, who is currently in America, said she was “horrified personally to hear about attack on Kevin Lunney, a decent hard-working man I’ve known for many years”.

She said: “We will ensure that the necessary resources are in place to make sure the perpetrators of this horrific attack will be brought to justice.

“These criminals are not supported by the communities in the region, I am limited in what I can say due to the significant investigation, but every resource and the full weight of the Garda Siochana and their specialist unit have been placed at the disposal of investigators in Cavan, and they are determined to find those responsible.”

Ms Humphries added that she will ask the government to give consideration to Mr Martin’s proposal.

Mr Martin recalled the creation of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) after the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996, and labelled the attack on Mr Lunney a similar turning point.

“This has gone on decades at this stage, the existing operation is not working, the PSNI and Gardai work well in terms of foiling bomb attacks and so on, but there is an alternative world going on here.

“There is huge fear, which has roots in a corrosive legacy, and it didn’t stop after the Good Friday Agreement, people have an empire there.

“When the late Veronica Guerin was murdered, that sparked the establishment of the CAB, it demanded such a response, I think the assault on Mr Lunney is the last straw in terms of giving protection and quality of life to people of the region.

“That is why it needs a statutory agency, and we’re going to reintroduce this legislation and I want you to go back to the Government and have an open mind to establish a cross-border agency to once and for all to take on these thugs.”

PA

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