Two men and a woman arrested over Kevin Lunney kidnap and torture
Lunney attacked on way from work in Quinn Industrial Holdings
BBC handout file photo of Kevin Lunney, on the BBC Spotlight programme.
Undated screengrab from BBC Spotlight of Cyril McGuinness
Gardaí investigating the abduction and torture of Kevin Lunney have arrested three people for questioning.
The two men and one woman were being detained in Garda stations in counties Cavan, Monaghan and Meath.
Gardaí said the arrested men are in their 20s and 40s and the woman was in her 50s. The woman was being detained under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act while both men were being held under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act.
The arrests of the suspects are the first arrests since a campaign of violence and intimidation began in 2011 against people and companies involved in the acquisition and management of assets formerly owned by Seán Quinn.
Mr Lunney is the chief operations officer of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH), the executive team of which has been targeted with threats, intimidation and violence for the past five years.
In mid-September Mr Lunney, a 50-year-old father of five, was abducted as he drove home to his home in Co Fermanagh. He was found badly beaten, with a broken leg and stripped to his underwear, on a roadside in Co Cavan 2½ hours later having been tortured by his captors in a horse box.
The Irish Times understands the younger man and the woman in custody are related. The woman was being questioned on suspicion of withholding information relating to the abduction and torture of Mr Lunney.
The younger man was being questioned on suspicion of involvement in aspects of the organisation of the abduction, including the sourcing of bleach that was purchased on the day.
The bleach was poured over Mr Lunney’s wounds, which included the letters QIH carved into his chest and slashes to his neck and face. This caused him significant and pain and was done in an apparent bid to clean away any forensic evidence that might link him to his abductors.
The third man being questioned on Thursday is suspected of having had a role in the logistics that facilitated the attack on Mr Lunney, including the sourcing of vehicles.
An older man related to the younger male suspect and the woman in her 50s being questioned is a chief suspect for the attack on Mr Lunney. Gardai believe that man, who is well known to law enforcement on both sides of the Border, was a close associate of Cyril McGuinness.
The man related to the younger man and the woman being question on Thursday is suspected of aiding the disposal of the horse box that Mr Lunney was tortured in, as well as other aspects of the crime.
That horse box has been recovered by gardai, as has a van believed to have been used in the attack. Both vehicles have been undergoing forensic examination.
Reacting to news of the arrests in the QIH investigation, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he was satisfied progress was being made but called for the Garda Siochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland to be given “time and space” to proceed with what is a “complex investigation” and their first north-south investigation.
“I am confident that every effort is being made and that no stone is being left unturned to bring these people to justice and there is progress on the investigation but the Garda and the PSNI will need the space to progress matters further,” Mr Flanagan told The Irish Times on the fringes of a conference in Dublin.
“It cannot take place in the 24/7 glare of media spotlight. The joint PSNI/Garda investigation cannot be pressurised in what is a relentless process that will culminate in putting a ruthless criminal gang out of business,” he said.
The minister said he was limited on what he could say about the police operation on both sides of the Border but repeated his call for the help of the public in bringing those responsible for the attack on Mr Lunney to justice.
“I am satisfied that there is a resolve on the part of the Garda and the PSNI to relentlessly pursue all of those involved and again I would ask the community north and south of the Border to engage fully with the police services on both sides,” said Mr Flanagan.
Last Friday a series of 18 searches was carried out by the Garda, PSNI and Derbyshire police as part of the inquiry into Mr Lunney’s abduction. In Derbyshire Dubliner Cyril McGuinness, aka Dublin Jimmy, died when police raided a house he was hiding in near Buxton.
He was regarded as the leader of the gang that has been targeting Mr Lunney and his colleagues. However, the QIH executives believe another men, whom they refer to as “the paymaster”, has been paying McGuinness’s gang to carry out the attacks.
QIH was once owned by local businessman and former billionaire Mr Quinn who lost his family business over multibillion losses on a boom-time bet on Anglo Irish Bank shares.
Mr Lunney as well as Liam McCaffrey and Dara O’Reilly were among a local management group who in 2014 took over running the Co Fermanagh-based building materials group founded by Mr Quinn in the 1970s. They did so on behalf of a consortium of three US hedge funds which had acquired the group’s borrowings in the debt markets.
They are among a group of QIH managers who received deaths threats demanding they resign. The warnings follow years of intimidation which the new management team endured.
Mr Quinn has always denied being behind the campaign and has condemned the latest acts of violence and intimidation.