Resolve needed to find ‘paymaster’ behind QIH intimidation, says director

Garda representative bodies criticise Minister over policing comments

Quinn Industrial Holdings offices in Derrylin in Co Fermanagh. File photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Quinn Industrial Holdings offices in Derrylin in Co Fermanagh. File photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

 

Resolve is still needed to find the “paymaster” behind the campaign of intimidation against Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH), non-executive director John McCartin has said.

“There is still a lot of risk to every activity and there are indications that this campaign of intimidation is not over.”

Speaking on Monday, Mr McCartin also said he agreed with comments by Minister of State Michael D’Arcy about the resourcing of An Garda Síochána in the area.

“We did have sustained attacks against us, there were a number of incidents that were allowed go unchecked – the incitement to hatred at a public meeting, the posters defaming us and face-to-face threats,” Mr McCartin told RTÉ’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan show.

He acknowledged that neither he nor his fellow directors had taken the threats seriously initially. “None of us could imagine the level to which they would stoop. The lack of humanity that they have.”

However, the leaders of two organisations representing gardaí described Mr D’Arcy’s comments as unhelpful and called on him to apologise.

On Sunday Minister of State with responsibility for financial services said senior gardaí in the Border region had “let down” the directors of the company.

The Fine Gael TD said the campaign of intimidation against QIH should have been dealt with sooner and better at local Garda level.

On Monday, the president of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), Cormac Moylan called on the Minister to clarify his comments.

Mr Moylan told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland the AGSI has been on the record as querying the lack of resources in the Border region, but welcomed the addition of resources such as a new armed support unit and 25 new recruits in Cavan-Monaghan.

“We can affirm the commitment of our members. The members that we represent that are in that area, are absolutely committed to a successful outcome of this investigation,” Mr Moylan said.

“This is an ongoing investigation. The searches and everything else that took place - they didn’t happen overnight they’ve been a long time in the offing.”

The president of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) Jim Mulligan also called on Mr D’Arcy to apologise for his comments.

The Minister’s comments were “not just chronically ill-informed, they are shockingly elitist. It’s like blaming bank clerks for the bank crash,” he said.

Later on RTÉ radio’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan show, the GRA’s representative for the Cavan-Monaghan division, James Morris-Rowe said the comments by Mr D’Arcy were an “insult”.

He said his colleagues felt let down, and “I’d simply call on the Minister to apologise to the frontline members he alluded to on the ground, and maybe to publicly clarify his comments.”

Death of gang leader

Gardaí fear the campaign of violence against executives in QIH will continue despite the sudden death of gang leader Cyril McGuinness, when UK police raided the house he was hiding in last week.

Gardaí are concerned that some of McGuinness’s associates, who are heavily involved in smuggling and were also dissident paramilitaries, will now have the means and motivation to continue the campaign, which escalated in September when QIH director Kevin Lunney was abducted and tortured.

Seán Quinn, the former owner of QIH, has insisted those carrying out the violence were not acting in his name and he has condemned it, including the attack on Mr Lunney.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met the five directors of QIH on Sunday, including Mr Lunney, to tell them their safety and security, and that of their families and employees, was being treated with the “utmost seriousness at the top of Government”.

The personal visit by the Taoiseach was intended as a strong gesture to underline that the Government was directly involved in the investigation.

Mr McCartin on Sunday said the meeting had been productive. “It gave a tremendous comfort to us that we have the attention of Government at the highest level. That resolve is evident.”

Personal safety

Speaking again on Monday, Mr McCartin said the QIH executives had confidence that gardaí were doing everything they could in the investigation, which he said is wide ranging, deep and well resourced. He said he was especially grateful for the efforts made to ensure his own personal safety.

However, he warned that he and his fellow executives cannot be complacent and that just because they are taking precautions, that they are not invulnerable.

When asked about comments by the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan about a cross-Border task force, Mr McCartin said he understood the Minister’s position as Mr Flanagan could not act unilaterally and his position was even more difficult with no Assembly in the North.

Crime does not respect borders, he said, but politicians have to.

The death of McGuinness was shocking news, he said, but there was concern that an “evidentiary lump” had now gone with his passing. He said the “treasure trove of evidence” found at the scene “can only be a good thing”.

“We are not privy to the details of the investigation, we just know the massive and concerted efforts on both sides of the border are not waning. There is a very substantial evidential trail,” he said.

Responding to a question about an email from Sean Quinn jnr to a QIH executive in which he offered to meet “to restore harmony in the community,” he said the combined response from the executives had been that the community did not need to be calmed.

“The community is not waging war with us,” he said.