Kevin Lunney reveals he nearly escaped captors before torture
BBC interview to be broadcast just hours after meeting between QIH and Garda chief
A still from the BBC Spotlight interview with Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney, who was abducted from outside his Co Fermanagh home last month and tortured before being dumped on a road in Co Cavan. Photograph: BBC Spotlight
Mr Lunney, who was subjected to what has been described as a “barbaric” ordeal, in his first public interview recounted how he was abducted and tortured by the gang.
The interview is being broadcast on a BBC Spotlight programme on Tuesday night just hours after a meeting between QIH directors and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at which a plea was made for a special cross-Border task force to police the region following the attack on Mr Lunney.
In the interview, previewed on BBC on Tuesday evening, Mr Lunney explained that as he was driving up his lane to his home he noticed a white car parked just ahead, which was unusual.
“The next thing I was aware of that they put the car into reverse at high speed. I was conscious that the car was basically jumping on the road. It was as hard as they could drive it backwards - it was reversing towards me,” he said.
Mr Lunney recalled how the car smashed into his Jeep and how the gang broke the windows of his vehicle and dragged him outside.
One of the gang put a Stanley knife to his neck and said: “Get into that. If you don’t get into that we are going to kill you.”
He was bundled into the boot of a black Audi while the white car and Mr Lunney’s Jeep were burnt.
But as the car sped away he managed to open the boot. He recalled, “I put one foot out on the road but I noticed as I put one foot to the road that it ripped the sole off my shoe. I knew that, Jesus, if I hit that with my head or with my arm it is going to rip it in bits. So I decided that maybe it is not a good idea.”
When the car eventually did slow down he decided to jump not realising that a third member of the gang had taken the back seats down and crawled into the boot. As he tried to escape he caught Mr Lunney by the foot. He was then forced back into the car where he was taken away to be tortured.
The full interview is being broadcast on Spotlight on BBC NI at 10.45pm.
Earlier, the Garda Commissioner met four of QIH’s directors in Monaghan town Garda station: Mr Lunney’s brother Tony, who is QIH’s production director; the company’s chief executive, Liam McCaffrey; chief financial officer Dara O’Reilly; and John McCartin, a non-executive director.
The local businessmen who run the building materials company once owned by businessman Seán Quinn have called for “robust policing” of the Border region and the “urgent establishment of a dedicated special cross-Border, highly resourced task force to deliver for this region what was achieved in respect of directed criminal activity elsewhere”.
In a statement issued after meeting, the Fermanagh-based firm said it raised concerns with him that “appropriate resources and attention were not applied” to addressing the years-long campaign of intimidation against them prior to the September 17th abduction and torture of Mr Lunney.
The company said that the additional Garda resources being applied to the Border region were welcome but that arrests were needed after “five years of intimidation and lawlessness”.
Law and order
They expressed concern to Mr Harris during the 90-minute meeting that the “failure to bring the orchestrator and paymaster of this campaign to justice would leave this peaceful community in a limbo status of fear and paralysis that would undermine the local economy and the rule of law and order in this region”.
Mr McCartin said the directors had “a good, frank discussion” with Mr Harris and they were “satisfied” that their concerns had received the attention they needed at the very highest level.
“He took everything that we said on board,” Mr McCartin said.
Mr McCaffrey said they had a “very open and constructive meeting” with Mr Harris and the directors would “certainly be meeting the commissioner again as matters progress”. They were “satisfied” with how the investigation was progressing, he said.
Speaking in the Dáil earlier, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there could be a joint investigation by the Garda and the Police Service of Northern Ireland into the attack on Mr Lunney and that he had asked Mr Harris to examine the practicalities of doing this. He noted that this “can be done quickly”.
Responding to a suggestion from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Mr Varadkar said he would not rule out establishing a statutory multidisciplinary joint agency, similar to the Criminal Assets Burea, involving the Garda and the PSNI, but he did not think it was the best solution as it would take a long time to set up.
In its statement, Quinn Industrial Holdings welcomed the company’s meeting with the commissioner and the recent increase in police resourcing following the attack on Mr Lunney.
“Progress is being made. Last Friday was the first time since QIH’s establishment almost five years ago that its management was not exposed to intimidatory signage or defamatory Facebook pages,” the company said, referring to last week’s removal of a sign on the Border criticising some of the QIH directors.
“The tragedy is that the impetus for this action was a violent attack on Kevin. However, the QIH directors and their families continue to live in fear. The community and staff of QIH need to see positive action now to give them the confidence to speak out against those perpetrating this campaign of intimidation.”
The company added: “The directors of QIH, the staff and the community are putting their trust in the police services and authorities on this island but they need to see the perpetrators and more importantly the paymaster brought to justice in the short term.”
Mr Lunney was kidnapped outside his home in Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, and subjected to a sustained attack for more than two hours. He was beaten, had his leg broken in two places and his face and torso cut with a knife before he was dumped semi-naked on a roadside in Co Cavan.
There have been more than 70 incidents of vandalism, intimidation and violence directed against the managers of the company committed by individuals who purport to be supporters of Mr Quinn, who lost control of the company in the financial crash after an ill-fated investment in Anglo Irish Bank.
Mr Quinn has repeatedly condemned the campaign of intimidation and violence, and described the assault on Mr Lunney, one of his former executives, as “despicable and totally barbaric”.
He called last week on those making fresh death threats against the five directors to “withdraw them immediately”, saying that they were “badly mistaken” if they felt they were acting in his or his family’s name.