Cavan priest had ‘no option’ but to condemn Lunney attack

Fr Ollie O’Reilly says ‘dogs in the street’ know ‘paymaster’ behind assault on businessman

September 29th, 2019: Fr Oliver O’Reilly, parish priest of Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, delivers a homily in the wake of the assault on local businessman Kevin Lunney, who is a director of building products manufacturer Quinn Industrial Holdings.


Co Cavan priest Fr Ollie O’Reilly said he had “no other option” but to speak out against the “perpetrators” and “paymaster or paymasters” behind the attack on local businessman Kevin Lunney.

The parish priest delivered a scathing homily from his pulpit in Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Ballyconnell over the weekend against “the Mafia-style group with its own godfather” operating “behind the scenes” who had carried out “a modern form of crucifixion deployed by terrorist groups such as Islamic State”.

Fr O’Reilly said afterwards he was horrified by the escalation in the campaign of intimidation against executives of Quinn Industrial Holdings, the building materials business once owned by billionaire-to-bankrupt Seán Quinn, who has condemned the violence against his former managers.

The priest feared that the escalating violence that culminated in the September 17th abduction and torture of Mr Lunney, an executive of the company, could result in someone being killed.

“Then we will be in real shame in the sense that we haven’t spoken out when we should speak out,” he said.

A congregation of several hundred people heard Fr O’Reilly tell parishioners that “a Rubicon has now been crossed by this most recent barbaric assault” and that there was “an obvious cancer of evil in our midst that needs to be exorcised before someone is murdered”.

He urged people not to remain silent or continue “to wash our hands like Pontius Pilate”.

His remarks were met with sustained applause inside the church.

Mr Lunney’s brother Tony, who attended Fr O’Reilly’s Sunday morning Mass at Ballyconnell church, said that the applause from the congregation was “very comforting”.

“I take great encouragement from it and hopefully it grows on that,” said Mr Lunney, also a QIH executive, when asked whether the priest’s comments might change the views of all in the community.

‘Enormously grateful’

A spokesman for Kevin Lunney, who has been released from hospital where he was treated for a broken leg and other serious injuries, said he was “enormously grateful for the support”.

However, not all churchgoers in the small community were supportive of the priest’s outspoken remarks.

Fr O’Reilly said he had received a “little bit of negativity” but 95 per cent of the responses were positive.

“A few people are saying that it wasn’t the place to speak out and why use the altar?” he said.

One individual told him to “mind my own business,” while a caller told him to “watch yourself”.

“There would be some here who would be supportive of the paymaster and that is the reality,” he said.

He declined to say who the paymaster was. “The dogs in the street know who it is.”