Gardaí investigating an arson attack at the home of a senior executive of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) believe it was part of an ongoing campaign of violence and intimidation against the company and those who run it.
And now QIH chief executive Liam McCaffrey has vented his frustration, saying many attacks had taken place, including on Tuesday night, and yet no suspects had ever been arrested down the years.
In strong remarks in the wake of the latest incident, he said organised crime and paramilitary crime had been met with significant Garda resources. He suggested it was time those people targeting his staff were tackled in the same way.
The company was formerly owned by businessman Seán Quinn, though he lost control of it and the rest of his business empire during the economic crash.
There is no suggestion whatever that Mr Quinn has had any part in the violence directed at the senior executives of QIH. Indeed, Mr Quinn has condemned the attacks and has said he does not support them.
The QIH company targeted was very significant in Mr Quinn’s business empire because it was the company from which he derived much of his initial wealth. It has bases in Cavan and Fermanagh, Mr Quinn’s home region. Gardaí believe that because the company is synonymous with Mr Quinn, his losing control of QIH is particularly emotive.
And detectives are convinced that people who believe they are being loyal to Mr Quinn, and who object to others now running what was a breakthrough business for him, have been carrying out the attacks.
Last night's incident occurred at the home of Tony Lunney, a senior manager at QIH.
A car owned by his adult daughter was set on fire outside the family home in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan.
The alarm was raised and the crews of two fire tenders managed to get the blaze under control before any major damage was done to the Lunney family home.
However, the vehicle set on fire was parked close to the house and the heat broke windows in the house and caused some other superficial damage.
“It is grossly unacceptable that criminals who threaten the lives and wellbeing of staff on both sides of the Border continue to operate with impunity,” Mr McCaffrey has said.
“It is also enormously frustrating that following years of intimidation and threats and a substantial escalation of violence over recent months that not a single arrest has been made.
“Unless politicians and the authorities on both sides of the Border properly prioritise and resource this issue, as they have with gangland and paramilitary crime in other area, lives will be lost.
“More than 830 staff and their families and the wider community are impacted by this violence and intimidation and they are in urgent need of reassurance that this issue is being taken seriously.”
The attack at the home of Mr Lunney follows an arson attack outside the home of chief financial officer Dara O’Reilly two weeks ago.
Mr O’Reilly was at home with his wife and two young children when a car parked outside the house in Butlersbridge was deliberately set on fire.
On that occasion the flames engulfed the vehicle quickly and were in danger of setting the house alight but for the emergency services being alerted.
Gardaí believe the person who started the fire may have been so taken aback by how the flames were threatening the house that they called the fire brigade.
The direction of the breeze on the night kept damage to the O’Brien family home to a minimum despite the fact the vehicle that went on fire was parked up against the house.
Arsonists also struck against a senior QIH manager on August 31st last. An effort was made to set alight a tyre factory owned by the manager.
However, while that attempt was unsuccessful it is being probed by the Garda.
Sand and other materials had also been poured into the engines and oil tanks of heavy plant machinery owned by the company over the last three years.
The firm and named executives and senior managers have also been targeted via online comment forums and on social media. Furthermore, signs carrying anti-QIH slogans have also been erected in Cavan and Fermanagh.
Subcontractors hired to provide goods and services to QIH have also been targeted in intimidation campaigns, including bullets being sent in the post.