Bullet and threat sent to building group in NI
A rifle bullet was sent to the chief executive of the Lagan Group last week in what appears to be a threat linked to a proposed merger with part of the Quinn Group.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is investigating the incident. The bullet was in a cigar box on which were pasted the words “Quinn . . . is this what you want”. The threatening message was sent by post to the Lagan Group’s Belfast offices, with the envelope carrying a Northern Ireland postmark.
Lagan companies are in the quarrying and construction industries.
The package was received at the office of chief executive Kevin Lagan last Thursday and was opened by his female personal assistant.
Yesterday Mr Lagan said he was “totally amazed” by the development. He said the group’s proposed merger with Quinn Building Products posed no threat to jobs. “In fact it secures the future of both Quinn and ourselves, going forward.”
In December last it was announced that Quinn Building Products and Lagan Cement might merge. Quinn, in which the State indirectly holds a 24.9 per cent stake through the former Anglo Irish Bank, and Lagan have signed a memo of understanding that may lead to the joint venture.
The idea is to create a “sustainable” independent Irish cement producer, both sides have said. The proposed merger is expected to be referred to the Competition Authority next month. The joint venture between the two groups would see them combine their cement and building products businesses based in Ballyconnell, Derrylin, Kinnegad, Belfast, Cork and Benelux.
“This is clearly an attempt to intimidate myself and the Lagan Group at a time when we are engaged in discussions with Quinn on combining our cement and building products businesses,” Mr Lagan said.
“The proposed joint venture is a positive move for everyone and will create a sustainable independent cement manufacturer that can continue to support its customers and employees on a competitive basis.”
He said the people behind “this crude intimidatory tactic” clearly weren’t interested in protecting jobs. “But we will not be swayed from our determination to complete our discussions successfully.”
Seán Quinn lost control of his Quinn Group in April 2011 when a receiver was appointed by the former Anglo Irish Bank. Since then there have been a number of criminal incidents believed to have been carried out by people angry about what has happened.
Paul O’Brien, the new chief executive of the group, whose BMW 4x4 was destroyed in an arson attack outside his home on an estate in Co Meath, has estimated that more than €1 million in damage had been caused to Quinn Group buildings and property since the takeover.