'The feeling around here is one of great sympathy for him'
LOCAL REACTION:PEOPLE IN Seán Quinn’s home town of Ballyconnell say they are devastated by his nine-week imprisonment. A sombre atmosphere pervaded the town through which thousands marched in support of Mr Quinn last month.
“Naturally people in this area have a lot of sympathy for him and his predicament and are sorry that it had to come to this,” one local man said. “Everyone round here knows Seán Quinn personally. The feeling around here is one of great sympathy for him and his family at this time.”
Tomás Lyons, from Dublin, said: “When I came down here 50 years ago it was an area that was bordering on poverty . . . Seán Quinn came in and broke that and provided employment for everyone. . . They needed a scapegoat and they chose him.
“If he made any mistake it was starting an insurance company, it was always a closed shop. He wasn’t one of the old school boys and they were pleased to see him out of the insurance business.”
A local businessman said it was a “sad day for a man who had done so much for the area . . . people feel uncertain about the future and employment in the area.
“Seán Quinn looked after the community and everyone has so much time for him. He put bread on all our tables. When the Troubles were on he kept people in employment and so there was far less violence. That’s all forgotten about.”
Another local businesswoman said the community was devastated. “It’s like someone has died in the town. . . what will jailing him achieve? Anyone that has come into the shop today feels very sad and angry about this.”
She added: “We know that people in the Border region are being criticised in the media and they can’t understand why we back him, but you only have to look around the area to see all that he has done.”
Patricia Gilheany of Concerned Irish Citizens, one of the main organisers of the support rallies for Mr Quinn, said she was “appalled that it has come to this”.
“Local people are absolutely furious and livid at what has happened today. Several weeks ago there were several thousand people on the street peacefully protesting and there in support of Seán Quinn,” Ms Gilheany added.
“He offered to repay €2.8 billion, that offer was refused, here we are today, that €2.8 billion is gone and Seán Quinn is in jail and the people of Ireland are being taken for a ride. Concerned Irish Citizens want to know how much the current strategy has recouped.”