Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) has stepped up its pursuit of those whom it accuses of defaming it online, by filing legal action against one of its own senior managers and his wife, one of the most vociferous public supporters of former owner Seán Quinn.
The company filed the High Court actions on Monday against Co Leitrim woman Patricia Gilheany and her husband, Gearoid Gilheany, who is the transport manager of Quinn Building Products, QIH's trading name.
It is understood that the case against Mr Gilheany has arisen from a separate, earlier case against Facebook, when QIH took action to try and force the social networking site to reveal the identities of people who had anonymously posted online comments about the company and its top executives.
The defamation action against the Gilheanys comes just days after QIH launched a similar legal action against Fermanagh farmer Enda Corrigan.
QIH, which has been criticised by Mr Quinn, who wants to regain control of his former empire, recently complained of a “resurgence of negativity and misinformation” against the company online.
It has also warned staff of a “resumption of false allegations and intimidation” against its executives by anonymous people purporting to be acting in support of Mr Quinn, who has previously denounced any intimidation.
The action against the Gilheanys was filed on Monday by QIH and its chief executive, one-time Quinn confidante Liam McCaffrey, its chief operating officer, Kevin Lunney, and its financial director, Dara O'Reilly.
Patricia Gilheany has been a staunch public defender of Mr Quinn’s for the last seven years, as he battled to keep his various businesses together before the recession and bankruptcy swamped him.
He later rejoined QIH, which is now backed by US hedge funds, as a consultant but fell out with the new regime and left again. Mr Quinn last month spoke at a public rally, where he vowed to regain control of the entity, claiming he was the best person to run QIH.
Ms Gilheany has long been closely involved in the running of various community and support groups that have backed Mr Quinn in his campaign. She has previously appeared on television to defend him, and regularly posts criticism of QIH on various Facebook pages associated with the pro-Seán Quinn campaign.
I back everything that Seán Quinn said at that meeting last month. He stands over every word of it himself
Speaking to The Irish Times on Tuesday evening, she said she had not yet been served legal papers by QIH, but she seemed unsurprised to be told the company had pulled the trigger on a legal action against her personally.
“I haven’t received anything from them in a while,” she said.
“Nothing about this whole thing [Mr Quinn’s loss of his former businesses] has been fair. Some people were given a mandate to hold the businesses for [Seán Quinn] but that isn’t what happened in the end.”
She said QIH’s pursuit of people over alleged defamation online is “a bit of a joke really”.
“I back everything that Seán Quinn said at that meeting last month. He stands over every word of it himself. Everything will come out about this eventually,” she said.
When asked about the impact of the legal action on her husband, given his position as a senior employee at the company that is suing them, she said Mr Gilheany was “prevented from speaking about it”. It is understood he currently remains an employee of QIH.
QIH declined to comment on ongoing legal proceedings.