‘Only comfort’ will be when attackers ‘put away’, says Kevin Lunney’s brother
Tony Lunney spoke of horror and anger at brother’s assault following BBC interview
Tony Lunney: ‘This needs to be resolved. This is not normal society.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA
“It was very difficult to sit through that programme,” Tony Lunney said. He felt he was lucky not to have been assaulted himself and angry that people “would do the like”.
Mr Lunney spoke of how on the night of the assault when he found his brother’s car burning, at first he feared his brother might have been in the vehicle.
Since the assault all QIH executives have taken security precautions, but he acknowledged that they could only do so much.
“This needs to be resolved. This is not normal society. The only comfort will be when they are apprehended, put away.”
Mr Lunney said he was happy with the way the meeting with the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on Tuesday had gone. “He’s very well informed.” The Commissioner appeared open to the suggestion of a cross border task force and had not ruled out anything, he said.
“I know the PSNI and the Garda Síochána are working closely,” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show on Wednesday
There is still the obstruction of the border which adds another dimension to the task and “makes it harder to deal with these people who know every loophole of the law and how to drag it out.”
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that this issue was something that “normal policing is not going to solve.” There has to be “a full, no holds barred response” from the State involving multiple agencies such as Revenue, CAB, the PSNI and the gardaí.
Former attorney general and the minister for justice, Senator Michael McDowell added that the issue is complicated because it is in two jurisdictions. There has to be a resolute approach by police and other agencies, north and south, to re-establish rule of law in the area. Such actions cannot be ignored.
He called for actions such as heavy surveillance, bugging, tracking of cars and phones. “There has been a clear lapse of policing on both sides of the border.”
Even if the situation had not escalated with the assault on Mr Lunney, the issue should have been dealt with more swiftly and robustly. “Those posters should have been removed.” The underlying reasons why this had happened needed to be explored, he added.
Mr Martin said that money is the key to the issue for the criminals which means that an agency like CAB should be involved. “This cannot be allowed to continue. What message is this sending? What are we saying to would be investors for business in the region?”
Mr McDowell called on the two governments to make clear that QIH is “never going back to the old management.”
Mr Lunney pointed out that 99 per cent of people in the locality support QIH and that it is “a small minority that has gotten power and a bit of status and they’re trying to destroy the area.”
It was important for people to see that the State is in control, he added.
Liam McCaffrey, the CEO of Quinn Industrial Holdings, said earlier he does feel safer now that there is a high level of security around QIH executives. “We are working away through that, but ultimately we can’t live like that forever.
“We can’t have police cars at the end of the driveway for ever and a day, the threat needs to be dealt with and those from whom the threat comes need to be dealt with.”
He admitted that prior to the attack on Kevin Lunney he had felt let down by the State. “I am loathe to say that. I’m not prone to exaggeration but, the intimidation that’s going on almost had reached what you could call an acceptable level. We’ve had Facebook postings, defaming of all manner, all manner of attacks and all manner of claims, made about us. Posters put up in the area, defamation and intimidation,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
Mr McCaffrey said there had been a level of physical attacks both on company property and “more chillingly”, since August of last year on executives and their homes.
“Whilst each individual incident was investigated to a certain extent, I don’t think the full forces of the State were brought to bear to say ‘we’ve got a problem in this region and we need to sort it out.’
“I’m not sure how productive it is to look back and criticise. We’ve got to look forward.”
He hopes that the current garda and PSNI investigations will lead to arrests, “not just of those carrying out attacks, but those paying for it.”
Mr McCaffrey admitted that there are times when he feels like walking away. While watching the television interview with Kevin Lunney on Tuesday night he said it was difficult to justify continuing, but, he pointed out “we have 840 staff here, they depend on us, I wouldn’t like to think what would happen to this business if it is shown that a management team can be intimidated out of it.
“I don’t know what the future for the business would be. There’s a certain amount of saying we don’t want to be bullied. At this stage we are continuing in our role and we are relying on law enforcement to deal with this issue.”
He said though he takes a degree of comfort from his meeting with the Garda Comissioner on Tuesday.
“I don’t think we’re going to agree about the level of policing over the last five years, what we were more focussed on was what’s going on now. Are the resources there for us to feel safe as we go about our day to day business? Is the investigation being pursued vigorously enough to bring those who carried out this act to justice? And to bring those who organised and paid for it to justice?
“I don’t think we’ll agree about what happened in the past, but we take a degree of comfort from what is happening now,” he said.