Brother of Dublin Jimmy wanted Garda to share intelligence with him
Francis McGuinness took High Court case seeking detail of why his yard was searched
Cyril McGuinness died last week during a police raid in Derbyshire. Photograph: Collins Courts
A brother of gang leader Cyril McGuinness, also known as Dublin Jimmy, took a High Court challenge in an effort to find out the confidential information gathered by gardaí that was used to secure a search warrant for his premises in Dublin more than five years ago.
Documents obtained by The Irish Times show Francis McGuinness wanted the Garda to disclose to him the information that was used to secure a warrant to search his car yard in Swords, north Co Dublin, in August 2014.
His efforts were unsuccessful.
The documents also reveal extensive Garda investigations had, by 2014, long been under way into the campaign of violence and intimidation against business executives who had taken control of companies formerly owned by Sean Quinn.
The detail set out in the court documents runs contrary to suggestions that appeals for Garda investigations as far back as Nóirín O’Sullivan’s time as Garda commissioner were not acted on.
Last week, Minister for State Michael D’Arcy said gardaí “on the ground” had “let down” the people under attack, though the legal documents from a number of years ago suggest significant investigations into the attacks were already in train.
The court documents, for example, name the senior Garda officer leading the investigations into the violence against the Quinn businesses as far back as 8½ years ago.
The first serious attack, in 2011, had been under investigation for some time before affidavits were prepared by the Garda in 2014 and 2015 for the High Court.
Francis McGuinness has never been charged with, or arrested in connection with, any of the violence. His brother, Cyril McGuinness, died last week during a police raid in Derbyshire. He was the leader of the gang that had run a campaign of violence against people involved in the acquisition or running of assets formerly owned by Sean Quinn.
That violence, which has been condemned by Mr Quinn, included the abduction and torture in September of Kevin Lunney, the chief operating officer of Quinn Industrial Holdings. However, the campaign of violence predates Mr Lunney and his colleagues taking control of QIH, backed by US investors, five years ago.
Other companies and executives involved in the purchase and management of former Quinn assets were also targeted.
A High Court ruling from 2016 reveals a yard owned by Francis McGuinness in Swords was searched in 2014 because the Garda suspected evidence might be found there relating to the modification of a vehicle that was set on fire and then driven into the lobby of a Quinn business in Co Cavan.
During that attack on March 13th, 2014, a Jeep Cherokee was driven into the lobby of the Quinn packaging plant in Ballyconnell.
The High Court ruling noted the attack had caused damage of more than €600,000.
“This was done at a time when over 30 employees were present at the plant,” the High Court judgment notes.
It further states the roof of the jeep had been cut off, adding the vehicle had been “fitted with bull bars and filled with tyres [and] was set alight and driven into the lobby”.
On the basis of intelligence gathered by the Garda specifically in relation to that attack, a search warrant was applied for at the District Court on August 21st, 2014. This warrant was executed two days later at the yard owned by Francis McGuinness, who denied any wrongdoing and claimed the search breached his rights.
The warrant was granted on the basis the Garda had reasonable suspicion the search would uncover evidence relating to the Ballyconnell attack, including documentary, computer and telephone evidence relating to the jeep as well as “the cut off section of the roof, the registration plates and steel cuttings consistent with cut-offs from the metal” .
In October 2014, and April 2015, Det Insp Fergus Treanor swore affidavits outlining how he had been appointed the senior officer in charge of the investigation into a large number of attacks directed against former Quinn business premises and some of the executives managing former Quinn assets.
Details of six of the most senior incidents were set out in the High Court ruling, which concluded the attacks had caused damage estimated at about €3 million.
The first serious incident was an arson attack at the home of Paul O’Brien in Ratoath, Co Meath, on August 8th, 2011, when the family car was destroyed by fire in the driveway. Mr O’Brien was the chief executive of Aventas, the parent company of many of the former Quinn assets that have since been sold, including Quinn Industrial Holdings.
The third incident was an attack two months later, when a 52-seater bus was filled with tyres, set on fire and driven into the Aventas factory complex in Ballyconnell.
Det Insp Treanor also outlined other investigations he had been leading for some time, including an incident during which damage of €80,000 was caused to machinery at the Lagan quarry in Cobh, Co Cork. This incident, in February, 2014, came just after Lagan had expressed an interest in purchasing some of the Quinn assets.
At the time of that attack, Ceva had just taken over the management of the Aventas-Quinn transport fleet.