GAA support for Quinns defended
Thousands of supporters of bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn turned out in force in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, last night for a rally that was also attended by senior figures from the GAA.
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, former Meath manager Seán Boylan, player Colm O’Rourke and Fr Brian D’Arcy addressed the crowds, estimated at between 3,000 and 4,000 people.
A letter of support was also read out from Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary.
Speaking today, former GAA president Seán Kelly defended the support shown for the Quinns, saying it was “an expression of moral support” for a family who had always been loyal to the association. He said the Quinns had never forgotten their roots and had always committed to the GAA financially and in terms of their time.
While the rally was not an official protest sanctioned by Croke Park “per se”, the show of support “for our own” and about standing behind those in trouble locally was what the association was all about, he said.
"In some respects it is admirable that people would say 'we feel strongly about an issue here', that is what freedom of expression is about,” the Fine Gael Ireland South MEP said in an interview on Radio Kerry. "Obviously there are different views at local level about what is happening, they probably feel strongly about Anglo Irish Bank and so forth, so in that regard I can understand why they are doing it."
It was “part of the ethos” of the GAA to get behind “a decent family ” who were living in the community and who were in a difficult patch and particularly with the national spotlight on them, he said. “In some respects it’s an expression of the strength of the organisation,” he said. “We’d probably do exactly the same thing down here in Kerry if someone who was very loyal to us was in difficulty."
One great strengths of the GAA was “we stand by our own,” he said. If people were down in the gutter, that did not mean the GAA turned their backs on them.
Video of Seán Quinn in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan last night from @Impartial Reporter
An emotional Mr Quinn told the crowd last night that his family had one million customers on the island of Ireland and had wonderful community support for nearly 40 years. He thanked his wife Patricia, his brother Peter, his four daughters and his son for their “unwavering support”.
Mr Quinn, his son Seán Quinn jnr and Peter Darragh Quinn were recently found guilty of contempt of court orders restraining them from putting assets beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank. While his son was jailed for three months, an arrest warrant is out for Mr Quinn’s nephew. Authorities in the Republic are powerless to force his return as he has left the jurisdiction.
Mr Quinn insisted his family had not fallen out with his nephew, who is wanted in the Republic for contempt of court. He was photographed attending a GAA club game in Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, on Friday.