Abduction of Kevin Lunney like something from ‘a civil war’

Locals condemn Border area attack by assailants on Quinn Industrial Holdings chief

Politicians from across the political divide condemned the abduction and beating of Kevin Lunney, who was found hours after the assault across the Border in Cavan. File photograph: PA

Politicians from across the political divide condemned the abduction and beating of Kevin Lunney, who was found hours after the assault across the Border in Cavan. File photograph: PA

 

Tuesday night’s attack on Kevin Lunney, the chief operating officer of Quinn Industrial Holdings who was abducted and beaten in the Border region, is reminiscent of something “from a civil war”, according to a local businessman.

Pádraig Donohoe, a friend of Seán Quinn, the one-time billionaire and former owner of the businesses that now comprise QIH, said whoever carried out the attack on Mr Lunney “has no support whatsoever” in the local community.

Mr Donohoe owns a number of retail businesses in Cavan, just over the Border from where the abduction took place near Derrylin in Fermanagh.

He has in the past been a prominent public supporter of Mr Quinn in his efforts to regain control of his old business empire.

Mr Lunney, meanwhile, is among several QIH executives and directors who have in the past been the subject of threats from people claiming to be supporters of Mr Quinn. Seán Quinn and his family have repeatedly condemned all acts of violence committed against QIH executives and property, including the abduction of Mr Lunney.

“Like everyone else, I am amazed that things have taken such a turn,” said Mr Donohoe. “We thought that sort of violence was a thing of the past in this area. I don’t think the people that did it have the support of anyone in the area.”

Mr Donohoe said his thoughts are with Mr Lunney and his wife, whom he said he knows personally.

“Things have turned sour. In the past, people had good intentions: they just wanted Quinn back again. But I think it’s just dawning on people now that he’ll not be back,” he said. “I’ve spoken to local people today – many of them Quinn supporters – and the people that did this to Kevin Lunney have no support among them. Not one person.”

Michelle Gildernew, the local Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, said the attack on Mr Lunney was “absolutely horrendous”.

“We don’t know where this attack came from. I want to avoid speculation about who might have done it,” she said. “But this was not just an attack on Kevin Lunney. It was an attack on civility in the local area. I have no hesitation in condemning it outright.”

Ms Gildernew said she had in recent weeks met with several QIH executives, including Mr Lunney, to discuss the potential impact of Brexit on the business.

“The people who did this were wrong. If there is any shred of civility left in them, it will not happen again,” she said.

A local resident in Derrylin, who did not want to be named, said they were working in the area when Mr Lunney was abducted, his car set on fire nearby.

“I seen the smoke go up. I didn’t hear anything, but I heard from neighbours that there were a few explosions [from the burning car],” said the local.

The person said Mr Lunney lives in an isolated spot near woods, with security gates at the entrance to the property. “If QIH were to pull out, I think Derrylin would come to a stop. It’s jobs for the area, isn’t it? Everybody is shocked. It will be the talk of the mart tomorrow.”

‘Abhorrent acts’

Earlier on Wednesday, the Quinn family released a statement saying “absolutely horrified to hear of the terrible ordeal endured by Kevin Lunney”.

“We . . . are deeply frustrated and angered that our former ownership of those businesses is being associated in any way with such abhorrent acts,” the family said. “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 in any shape or form and we are totally against this type of activity.”

Politicians from across the political divide also condemned the abduction and beating of Mr Lunney, who was found hours later across the Border in Cavan.

Richie McPhillips, a former SDLP MLA in the Fermanagh area, said “the law of the jungle is not acceptable in any free, modern society”. Rosemary Barton, a local Ulster Unionist MLA, said the attack was “disgusting and despicable” and was carried out by “bullies and criminals”.