Kevin Lunney abduction inquiry focuses on Cavan village

Container inside which businessman was tortured is believed to have been identified

Kevin Lunney, a senior executive with Quinn Industrial Holdings, was snatched and brutally attacked on his way from work to his Co Fermanagh home last Tuesday. Photograph: Lorraine Teevan

The Garda investigation into the abduction and torture of Cavan business executive Kevin Lunney is focusing on a location outside a village approximately 23 miles from where he was abducted last Tuesday.

Gardaí believe they have identified a container inside which the businessman was brutally attacked after he was snatched on his way from work to his Co Fermanagh home.

The gang that abducted Mr Lunney (50), a senior executive with Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH), of Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, then dumped him by the side of the road in Cornafean, Co Cavan.

On Sunday the Garda investigation was focused on a location outside the village of Ballinagh, Co Cavan, which is about four miles from Cornafean.


“We are reasonably confident we have identified where the attack or torture took place,” said a source. “Obviously that will be dependant on confirming forensics and technical examinations and so on.”

A thorough search is due to resume on Monday. CCTV footage on which it is believed one of the gang can be seen purchasing bleach, to be used to destroy forensic evidence, has also been recovered by the investigation team.

“We’ll be looking at all that sort of stuff to see what we can piece together,” the source said.

Any forensic material found could dictate the direction in which the investigation will turn, while evidence that the container was “cleaned” with chemicals could itself be significant.

Incident room

An incident room has been set up in the Garda station in Ballinagh. Locals in the village, which is about six miles from Cavan town, did not want to comment when asked. “These things are best left to An Garda Síochána,” said a local woman who did not wish to give her name.

Mr Lunney is one of a number of executives who formerly worked for the businessman Séan Quinn, and who are now helping operate the former Quinn businesses in Derrylin.

They have been subjected to a series of threats over recent years as part of a sinister campaign against the new ownership of businesses that are vital local employers. Mr Quinn has repeatedly condemned the campaign.

The parish priest in Derrylin appealed to those responsible for the abduction of Mr Lunney to “stop the violence now”.

"In the name of God," Fr Gerard Alwill said during Mass on Sunday, "stop before somebody gets killed."

Mr Lunney's fellow QIH director John McCartin, said he was confident that the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, with whom he had spoken, recognised the enormity of the situation.

“I have confidence that he shares the frustration I have with the lack of progress in bringing this [campaign of intimidation] to an end.

“I do think they get it now,” he said. “I think that every effort will be made to protect these businesses and the people that work here.”

‘Totally abhorrent’

Fr Alwill said that the “barbaric” attack on Mr Lunney was “totally abhorrent” to all decent people.

“To plan and to carry out such a savage attack is totally contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ,” he said, and “runs totally contrary to every sinew of human decency that is within us.

“I, as an individual, and we as a community, are both horrified and disgusted by the brutality of this attack and by the sheer heartlessness that could inflict such suffering on the wife, the children and the wider family of the individual concerned,” said Fr Alwill.

“Over the last few days,” he said, “I’ve sensed a growing feeling of anger, resentment and revulsion among the members of our community over what has happened.

People he had spoken with had conveyed their sense of shock, their sense of outrage and their sense of disbelief that such a terrible thing could happen, he said.

“In the name of God, and in the name of our community, we ask these people to stop the violence now,” he said.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times