QIH chairman warns firm could close if intimidation continues
Adrian Barden pleased action being taken but wants paymaster brought to justice
Adrian Barden became emotional watching the first television interview this week by Kevin Lunney, above, and his graphic recounting of the prolonged assault. Photograph: BBC
The chairman of the Cavan-Fermanagh-based business said the company was “relieved” there had been a series of police raids on both sides of the Border and in England yesterday after years where “we have not seen any activity” or arrests, despite long-running intimidation of QIH executives.
“Thank goodness something is happening,” he said.
“We are all very pleased to hear that something is going on, although we will have to assess whether it really is good news when we know more.”
The company wanted to see the paymaster behind the campaign and September 17th torture of QIH manager Kevin Lunney being brought to justice, he said.
“It is one thing getting the people that have done the activity but it is more important to find out who has been paying for it,” he said.
Mr Barden thanked the Garda and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for their “local focus on keeping people safe” but expressed concern about what would happen if this “heightened awareness” passed over time without any arrests.
“What worries us if people are not brought to justice [is]: what happens in six or nine months’ time?” he said.
The businessman said QIH could not do any more to protect management and that it had “overcompensated” on security to safeguard staff and their families.
The gang behind the attack had to be caught, he said.
“We have got to bring people to justice. People cannot live their lives with security so that it restricts their freedom,” he said.
Mr Barden said he became emotional watching Mr Lunney’s first television interview this week and his graphic recounting of the prolonged assault.
“You have got to be heartless if your stomach didn’t knot up and emotion didn’t come into you. Can you imagine being in that situation? I couldn’t. It is just horrendous,” he said.
The three US investment funds, who took ownership of the building materials business lost by local tycoon Seán Quinn in the financial crash, were “totally perplexed” by years-long inaction over the violent acts when the Irish and British justice systems were held up as being among the “best in the world”, he said.
They could not understand why no arrests were made and why locals were afraid to take down intimidatory signs, he said. The US investors had come to view the Border as a “lawless area”, despite letters asking for action.
The English businessman warned that this sent out a poor message to overseas companies considering making an investment in Ireland. The Government would be “naive” to think that this would not have an effect, he said.
“Why would you move a business or invest in businesses in Ireland if this was the normal course of business? You wouldn’t,” he said.
Mr Barden said if more employees were injured, the investors would have to consider closing QIH because they had a duty of care to their 830 staff.
“We have to sit down very carefully and consider what our next steps would be. Whilst there has been a huge investment in this business, is it really worth a life? I don’t think any money is,” he said.
“I think we would have to consider all options and that is so sad that we would even have to contemplate that.”