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Real IRA man linked to Quinn firm death threats

Former prisoner is masked man in picture, sources say

The masked man reading out the threat
The masked man reading out the threat

By Sarah Henderson and Maeve Sheehan

A former Real IRA prisoner is being investigated over a death threat against the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) purporting to be a "last warning" to resign or face a "permanent solution".

The threatening letter, delivered by a masked man and issued last Monday to the Irish News, claimed responsibility for the abduction and savage assault in September on Kevin Lunney and in a chilling taunt said: "If we wanted, we could have killed him very easily."

Mr Lunney was snatched from outside his Fermanagh home, savagely beaten over two hours, had his leg broken, his face and chest slashed and was dumped on a Cavan roadside. He was warned that he and other directors would be shot if they didn't resign.

The new threatening letter told the directors "you haven't learned your lesson after what happened to Kevin".

Kevin Lunney
Kevin Lunney

It is widely suspected that the balaclava clad man photographed issuing the threat was once a leading figure in the Real IRA from Northern Ireland who served time in prison for explosives offences and who currently lives in Cavan.

Sources said that a number of local people who claim to recognise the masked man from the photograph have reported his identity to the PSNI through its confidential phone line. Today's Sunday Independent reports that a director of QIH has also reported this man's suspected identity to the PSNI and gardai.

This development comes as the parish priest of Ballyconnell in Co Cavan, who spoke out against the intimidation, has revealed he is investigating a new security system for the parochial house.

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Fr Oliver O'Reilly, who lives in a town where more than 70 attacks on the Quinn companies have gone unpunished, delivered a searing homily last month calling out the Mafia-like "paymaster or paymasters" who funded the savage attack on Mr Lunney.

In an interview with today's Sunday Independent, he admitted that he is getting his security reviewed. "The more you speak, the more you are at risk," he said.

He also plans to step back from the robust public commentary he has become known for, in the hope of fostering peace.

"I want to get back to my normal parish work… I find that in the last month, a whole lot of things have happened. I want to take a back seat for a while," he said. "If there is further intimidation, I intend to return to the fray."

A second death threat to the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings last week - companies founded and lost by the former billionaire Sean Quinn - has finally catapulted the long campaign of intimidation and violence into the laps of government.

An eight-year campaign of intimidation has been waged against the management of the businesses formerly owned by Mr Quinn, who lost control of his empire in 2011.

He has repeatedly denounced the attacks on the companies, saying they are not carried out in his name.

The directors of QIH will hold their first meeting with the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris in Monaghan on Tuesday.

Liam McCaffrey, the chief executive, Dara O'Reilly, chief financial officer, John McCartin, a non-executive director and Tony Lunney, the production director will attend the meeting.

PSNI at the scene of Kevin Lunney's abduction near Kinawley Co Fermanagh. Credit: Press Eye
PSNI at the scene of Kevin Lunney's abduction near Kinawley Co Fermanagh. Credit: Press Eye

Kevin Lunney, the company's chief operating officer, will also attend if he is well enough.

His brother Tony said: "We are preparing for the meeting with the Commissioner. We will be asking for an update on the investigation, what progress has been made and why there have been no arrests six weeks after Kevin was attacked."

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