Quinn Industrial Holdings director questions why gardaí have not removed sign

New threat issued to directors earlier this week also said anyone removing signs will be ‘targeted’

A director of Quinn Industrial Holdings has questioned why it has taken gardaí so long to remove a sign erected in Co Cavan which makes claims about salaries of the company's directors.

The garda commissioner, Drew Harris, said this week that any such signs would be removed by gardaí, but QIH director John McCartin on Thursday asked why it had taken so long.

“If the gardaí are going to take it down, why isn’t it down? Why didn’t they take it down in the beginning and forensically examine it? It would have surely incriminated those behind the campaign of intimidation,” he said.

The central issue was not the sign itself but the question of control in Border areas, Mr McCartin continued.


“It’s not about the posters or what’s written on it, it’s saying, ‘We’re in control’.”

It is understood that while some signs were removed following the receipt of enforcement notices from county councils, an enforcement notice in regard to the remaining sign was not complied with.

In correspondence with QIH, Cavan County Council indicated that it had concerns for its staff around the removal of the sign, and that it had been “advised by persons unknown” not to remove it.

The local authority cathaoirleach, Fianna Fáil councillor Shane P O’Reilly, said the council “takes the responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of its staff very seriously and we will continue to monitor the situation”.

On Monday a threat was issued against “anyone who removes signs, whether that be council employees or outside contractors” warning that they “will be targeted.”

The same statement threatened five directors of QIH with a "permanent solution" unless they resigned their positions in the company. Those named included Kevin Lunney, who was abducted outside his Co Fermanagh home in September and beaten and tortured before being dumped on a road in Co Cavan.

QIH was the name given to the firm after local businessman Sean Quinn lost the firm following multi-billion losses on his investment in Anglo Irish Bank.

Large placard

The large placard, which has been on display outside a tile company in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan for more than a year, makes claims about the salaries of three company directors and compares them to the alleged income of former Quinn group founder, Sean Quinn.

“Liam McCaffrey’s salary, £487,000 plus expences (sic),” it reads. “Tony & Kevin Lunney’s Salery (sic), £345,000 plus expences (sic). SEAN QUINN ZERO £POUNDS.”

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the garda commissioner told reporters that the issue would be dealt with.

He said the posters would be removed “and if we have to employ specialist help to do that we will do so”.

Asked why it had taken so long, Mr Harris replied: “This matter has been brought to my attention and it will be dealt with.”

Signs naming directors of the company had previously appeared on lampposts in the border region, including an image of Kevin Lunney accompanied by the word “traitor”. These were removed and have not reappeared in recent months.

It is understood that signs have in the past been removed by local gardaí on at least one occasion.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have previously removed signs erected on the northern side of the Border.

“This isn’t about the poster. This is about somebody robustly calling out the institutions of the State and saying, ‘We’re in charge’,” said Mr McCartin.

“Criminal gangs are giving orders to the institutions of the State, and why wouldn’t they, they’ve managed to intimidate the State,” he said.

Mr Quinn and his family have repeatedly condemned acts of vandalism and violence against their former businesses and properties and the executives who worked in the family enterprise over the years. They have disavowed the campaign of violence and distanced themselves from any acts purported to be carried out in their names.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times