Quinn supporters stage demonstrations
In Quinn country they’re keeping faith with the man who created the empire that is still employing more than 1,000 people on the Border between Fermanagh and Cavan.
They have a mediation plan that Seán Quinn supporters believe could resurrect both the fortunes of the company that Seán Quinn lost and that could even have the jailed former billionaire back at the helm.
Some people might find that fanciful but not here.
Dozens of people, some of them Quinn Group workers staged half-day protests in the area in support of Seán Quinn and his family.
Protesters using tractors and other agricultural vehicles blocked entrances to the cement and glass plants in the Derrylin and Ballyconnell area of this frontier region.
As well as support for Quinn there is also a resentment at the Dublin media in the area, a feeling among many that, as local businessman Pádraig Donohoe described it to The Irish Times, local people who have stuck by Mr Quinn have been depicted as “gobshites and Culchies”.
But here in Ballyconnell Mr Donohoe is not squaring for a fight. Instead he’s looking for a resolution that could safeguard jobs that were brought to the area by Mr Quinn’s entrepreneurial and gambling spirit.
He’s well aware of the argument that it was a catastrophic €2 billion punt on Anglo Irish Bank by Mr Quinn that has caused the ructions.
He acknowledges too that he himself has a vested interest in this terrible saga.
He has supermarkets in Ballyconnell and one 10 minutes away in Belturbet in Co Cavan and 15 minutes away in Ballinamore in Co Leitrim employing 150 people.
If Quinn Group should be further wound down, as many local people fear, then he too will suffer, as will his workers.
The pay packets, he adds, that Quinn created in this area over recent decades go well beyond the Quinn Group – and this in an area which before Seán Quinn suffered severe unemployment.
Mr Donohoe was not at the protests but he produces a statement from a drawer in his desk on behalf of Quinn Group employees and local business people and community representatives.
He thinks it offers a way out of the current problem.
The local group calls for Mr Quinn’s immediate release from prison and for mediated resolution talks to begin immediately between the Quinn family and the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).
The group wants the disposal of any further assets of the Quinn Group halted; it wants no further “dissipation of assets in Russia or elsewhere by IBRC/Anglo or the Quinn Group” until the conclusion of some independent inquiry.
Perhaps the most far-reaching demand of all is that there should be a “return of the businesses to local management control and an acceptance by all stakeholders that local interests can only be properly represented in the future through the exercise of that local control”.
But do Mr Donohoe and locals believe there could be a role for Mr Quinn?
“Anyone with a brain in his head would know who is the best person to run the Quinn Group. Is it going to be these guys appointed by Anglo Irish Bank or do you put back a man who has 40 years experience and between his . . . management they have 341 years of experience?”
He rejects the view that Mr Quinn was a greedy man.
He believes his detractors just don’t understand the man.
“They say he is a greedy man. Well I am saying every penny he made he ploughed back into the land he came out of.”
Quinn Glass, Derrylin,
Quinn Group head office,
Quinn Energy, Slieve Rushen, Derrylin, Co Fermanagh;
Quinn Cement - Plant 1, Gortmullen, Derrylin,
Quinn Cement - Plant 2, Scotchtown, Ballyconnell,
Quinn radiators, Scotchtown, Ballyconnell, Co Cavan;
Quinn Therm, Scotchtown, Ballyconnell, Co Cavan;