Abducted Quinn executive was threatened with ‘permanent solution’

Death threat was sent to Kevin Lunney’s company four months before attack

Kevin Lunney (pictured in Dublin last May) sustained a broken leg and other severe injuries after being abducted in the Border area on Tuesday. File image: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Kevin Lunney (pictured in Dublin last May) sustained a broken leg and other severe injuries after being abducted in the Border area on Tuesday. File image: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

Kevin Lunney, the Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) executive abducted on Tuesday, was among five senior executives and company directors recently named in an anonymous letter that threatened “a permanent solution” against them.

The letter, received in May, was treated as a death threat by QIH, which passed it on to the Garda and the PSNI.

It appeared to refer to the Slieve Rushen wind farm, located behind a QIH cement factory on the Cavan/Fermanagh border, originally built by businessman Sean Quinn before he lost control of his empire. The wind farm was bought by French-linked company, Platina Energy Partners, in 2014.

Mr Lunney, a 50-year-old father of six was dragged from his car by a masked gang who rammed his vehicle.

He was “beaten to within an inch of his life”, PSNI Superintendent Clive Beatty said on Wednesday.

“The actual violence of this attack is frightening. It’s not something we’ve experienced before outside of a paramilitary context.”

The threat last May addressed the “directors of Quinn Building Products”, whom the anonymous authors said “facilitated the sale of the Quinn manufacturing businesses” and the “trespass by a French company over... lands”. The wind farm is accessed by legal rights of way over nearby holdings, including the factory site.

“The directors responsible for the above are Liam McCaffrey, John McCartin, Dara O’Reilly, Kevin Lunney and Tony Lunney, ” the letter read, referencing the executives and board members.

“We are putting you on notice that if this... trespass is not stopped immediately, we will be implementing a permanent solution for at least one of the above,” the letter continued.

The authors said a copy of the threat would be sent to Belfast law firm, Carson McDowell. The firm was an adviser on the sale of the wind farm by the administrators of Quinn Insurance. It is understood the law firm subsequently received a copy and passed it to the PSNI.

Mr Lunney and other QIH executives have been the subject of numerous threats from anonymous people in recent years purporting to be supporters of Mr Quinn, who campaigned to regain control of his former businesses.

The threats escalated to attacks on property, while Mr Lunney and Mr O’Reilly were assaulted in February. Mr Quinn and his family have condemned the attacks and said they are not carried out in their name.

On Tuesday evening as he returned from work, Mr Lunney was abducted near his home in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, and his car set on fire. He was found more than two hours later approximately 35km away at Drumcoughill, Cornafean, in Co Cavan, badly injured and dumped on a roadside after being beaten with a baseball bat.

It is understood that Mr Lunney had been due to attend a meeting of QIH directors and its US hedge fund financial backers on Wednesday.

Quinn family statement

He was being treated at Cavan General Hospital on Wednesday night for a broken leg and a suspected broken jaw as well as soft tissue injuries to his torso, body and head.

The family of Mr Quinn said they were “horrified to hear of the terrible ordeal which Kevin Lunney has endured”.

“The Quinn family has repeatedly condemned these types of attacks in the strongest possible terms and we will always do so. The people that are carrying out these despicable acts are not doing so for our benefit,” the family said.

In the wake of the attack, the company is expected to explore options for close personal protection for its executives.

Security sources said while armed police protection had been allocated to some people against whom threats had been made by criminals in the past, the QIH executives’ personal and professional lives saw them regularly criss-cross the border. This would greatly complicate the allocation of armed Garda or PSNI escorts, sources said.

Responding to criticism over the absence of any arrests despite years of violence and threats against QIH executives, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the criminals involved were highly organised.

“Some of the individuals involved engaged this are very careful to ensure that their identities are concealed and the burning of vehicles and destruction of evidence is very evident in this and have made this particularly difficult,” Mr Harris said.