Ex-Quinn managers asked Nóirín O’Sullivan for help five years ago
Request for intensive policing came as escalating vandalism risked loss of life
Minister of State for Financial Services Michael D’Arcy. Garda representative groups reacted angrily to Mr D’Arcy’s criticism that senior gardaí had ‘let down’ QIH executive Kevin Lunney. Photograph: Alan Betson
Management at the former Quinn Group called for a special cross-Border policing task force more than five years ago to tackle escalating violent attacks against the Cavan-Fermanagh business.
The request, which was dealt with by the then Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, predates the directors who took over the business renamed as Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) in late 2014 and who have faced increased personal intimidation and attacks since then.
A growing risk of personal injury from spiralling violence led to the request for more intensive Border policing as management at Aventas Group, formerly Quinn Group, struggled to cope with the attacks that began after the former Anglo Irish Bank took control of the group from businessman Seán Quinn.
Dozens of acts of vandalism and damage to former Quinn Group equipment and properties have taken place in the years since April 2011. Mr Quinn has repeatedly condemned the attacks.
The violence included two attacks where lives were potentially put at risk. In December 2013, a stolen oil tanker was driven into the former Quinn Group head office near Derrylin, Co Fermanagh and set on fire.
In March 2014, a 4x4 vehicle loaded with tyres, petrol and gas canisters was driven into the foyer of the Quinn Packaging premises in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan. There were almost 20 people working inside the building at the time.
The vehicles on both occasions effectively amounted to bombs and the assessment of the Garda Síochána and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) at the time was that they could have led to fatalities if they had combusted.
In response, Aventas management urged the government to set up a special task force to address the violence.
A Garda spokesman said last night “these concerns were taken seriously by the then commissioner and progress reports [were] requested from relevant senior officers”.
He added: “At that stage, there was already a joint approach to these incidents between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI. This involved close cooperation on ongoing investigations as well as the involvement of Garda national units in areas such as economic crime and national support services.”
The Garda spokesman said “this close cooperation has continued since then”.
On Monday, Garda representative groups reacted angrily to Minister of State for Financial Services Michael D’Arcy’s criticism that senior gardaí in the Border region had “let down” QIH executive Kevin Lunney, who was abducted and tortured in September.
Mr D’Arcy said the violence “should have been dealt with sooner and better” by local gardaí and blame lay with members “on the ground” rather than with the Government or Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.
Groups representing frontline gardaí called his remarks unhelpful and asked him to apologise. Garda Representative Association (GRA) president Jim Mulligan said Mr D’Arcy’s comments were “not just chronically ill-informed, they are shockingly elitist”.
QIH non-executive director John McCartin said “resolve” was needed to catch the “paymaster” behind the intimidation and violence. He welcomed the increased cross-Border cooperation as seen in the series of police raids across the Republic, Northern Ireland and England on Friday.
“We have to acknowledge that and be thankful for it,” he said. “Whatever they are doing is working.” The chief suspect in Mr Lunney’s kidnapping, Cyril “Dublin Jimmy” McGuinness, died of a suspected heart attack during a police raid on a house in Buxton, Derbyshire.