Belfast Telegraph

Garda chief is accused of ignoring Quinn directors' plea

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris
The letter from QIH
Kevin Lunney
Adrian Barden

By Paul Williams

Directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings warned a year ago about a "rise in intimidation" towards company executives, which culminated in the abduction and torture of Kevin Lunney last month.

But Garda Commissioner Drew Harris did not respond to a request for an "urgent meeting" made by QIH chairman Adrian Barden in a letter to the Irish Minister for Justice last October.

It followed an arson attack five days earlier at the home of Dara O'Reilly, the company's chief financial officer, in which the director and his young family narrowly escaped an "unthinkable tragedy".

A week after the letter was sent there was another arson attack, this time targeting Kevin Lunney's brother Tony, when his daughter's car was burned out at the family home.

Previously on August 31, there was an arson attack at a tyre company owned by Tony Lunney in Ballyconnell.

In the letter the QIH chairman was critical of the response to the continuing violence and warned of the board's fears that the escalating violence "will result in serious injury and/or loss of life".

In the letter, Mr Barden wrote: "Minister, it would be a gross failure of the State's justice system if death or serious injury were the yardstick for State intervention to protect its citizens against persistent criminality.

"One can only speculate that this situation would not be tolerated if these attacks were perpetrated against the senior executives of FDI led companies such as Microsoft or Apple.

"As a major employer the safety of our 830 staff in this border region remains our priority at a time when management time should be focused on the impact of Brexit for our operations on both sides of the border."

The letter finishes with a request to meet the Commissioner: "Given the serious issues involved the Board have requested me to arrange an urgent meeting with your office and the Garda Commissioner at your earliest convenience."

The letter was sent by email cc'ed to Irish enterprise minister Heather Humphries who represents the Cavan/Monaghan constituency, as well as the Commissioner.

Last night sources close to the QIH management team confirmed they received no response from the Garda Commissioner.

They revealed that despite sending a further two requests for meetings - one in writing and the other verbal - these proved unsuccessful. However the company said it wanted to stress that they had no issue with Mr Flanagan or Ms Humphries, who they said have both been "very supportive".

A spokesperson for the Garda Commissioner confirmed that he had received the correspondence sent to the Minister by QIH but said he had not been "asked directly to meet the Board or any representative of QIH".

"This correspondence was acknowledged on the 24th of October, 2018 and on the 31st October Chief Supt John O'Reilly of the Cavan/Monaghan Division met with members of QIH in response to the correspondence received," the spokesperson said.

A source at the company told the Irish Independent: "A week after the attack on Kevin the Commissioner was in Ballyconnell for a conference and also visited the investigating gardai in Cavan town but made no effort to meet with us, even though the Minister for Justice came to meet with us and was very supportive.

"It really is incredible that a major employer and economic driver such as QIH have been left out on its own for so long in face of such intimidation and violence and that the Commissioner, the man with responsibility for the policing of this State, will not give us five minutes of his time.

"We do however want to acknowledge that the ongoing joint police investigation appears to be fairly intensive and we are extremely hopeful that the perpetrators of the violence and the godfathers paying them are brought to justice."

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