Derrylin: ‘There’s no division whatsoever in this community today’

Massive rally in support of Kevin Lunny at Quinn Industrial Holdings HQ

Workers from Quinn Industrial Holdings gather at Derrylin HQ  to show solidarity with director Kevin Lunney.  Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA

Workers from Quinn Industrial Holdings gather at Derrylin HQ to show solidarity with director Kevin Lunney. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

 

Ballyconnell Road is Quinn territory.

When driving out of Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, towards the Border at Ballyconnell, the Quinn businesses dominate the skyline. There’s a quarry, cement works, and Quinn Building Products, with a massive letter Q emblazoned on the building.

This is the headquarters of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH), a network of companies once owned by the local businessman, Sean Quinn.

The firm employs about 800 people; and on Friday afternoon most of them gathered outside the Quinn quarry office to show their solidarity with their colleague, the company’s chief operating officer, Kevin Lunney. He was abducted on his way home from work on Tuesday and beaten “to within an inch of his life”, police said, before being dumped by the side of the road.

In a statement on Friday, his colleagues expressed their “unequivocal support” for Mr Lunney and his family.

“He is highly respected and held in high regard in our company for his hard work, commitment and dedication to the staff, the business and the local community,” the statement said. “This attack was not only an attack on Kevin, but on the entire staff and community.”

It was for this reason, one worker explained, that staff felt they had to hold the rally.

“Quinn is a family,” he said. “Kevin’s family. Everyone’s in it together.”

Another spoke of his fear that the attack had put jobs at risk: “I’m worried. What if there are cutbacks, and jobs lost?”

Both employees – who asked not to be identified – were among many at the rally wearing hi-viz vests bearing the name “Quinn Building Products”. Others were dressed in company uniforms.

Reign of terror

Accompanied by a number of the company’s owners and directors, and by civic and political leaders, they walked the few hundred metres to QIH headquarters, where the chief executive of Manufacturing NI, Stephen Kelly, read a statement from the staff. There must be, they said, “an end to this reign of terror” so that they could “feel safe in our place of work and in our local communities”.

“Kevin is the most well-intentioned man you could ever meet,” said QIH director John McCartan, “a perfectly understated, diligent, intelligent man with a family and a community activist in every sense of the word.

“To see him targeted because of his efforts to consolidate and protect an economic driver for his community and for the region is very sickening indeed.

“I’m happy for Kevin that there’s such respect and love shown for him here today from across what is usually a divided political part of the world. There’s no division whatsoever in this community today.”

That sense of unity was much in evidence on Friday. Among those present was DUP leader Arlene Foster, who said: “Kevin has worked very hard to keep jobs in Fermanagh and it’s a great testament to this factory that so many jobs still exist here.”

Also in attendance were students from St Aidan’s High School in Derrylin. Mr Lunney was a former pupil, the principal, Pat McTeggart, explained and had stepped in when the school was threatened with closure.

“All of us in St Aidan’s regard Kevin as our friend,” he said.