Quinn employees demand end to ‘reign of terror’

About 500 people including political leaders turn out for rally in support of Kevin Lunney

Employees at Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, have demanded an end to the "reign of terror" waged against the company's management.

They also called on politicians and police on both sides of the Border to allocate “whatever resources are necessary” to bring the perpetrators to justice and to “bring an end to these brutal attacks so we can feel safe in our place of work and in our local communities.”

About 500 people, the majority of them staff at QIH, gathered at the company's headquarters on Friday afternoon to express their "unequivocal support" for Kevin Lunney.

Mr Lunney, the firm’s chief operating officer, was left with “life-changing injuries” after he was brutally beaten by a gang who abducted him from near his home on Tuesday evening.


Two-hour ordeal

Some of his fingernails were pulled out, his face and neck slashed with a Stanley knife and his leg was badly broken during the two-hour ordeal.

Fr Gerry Comiskey, the parish priest in Drumlane, Co Cavan, told The Irish Times that he had been to see Mr Lunney in hospital and that he was “deeply truamatised” but was “recovering good”.

A major cross-Border investigation has been launched by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and gardaí.

Gardaí carried out a number of searches in Cavan on Friday as part of the investigation.

Garda chief superintendent John O’Reilly, who is leading the investigation, said “significant local resources” have been committed by An Garda Síochána “to an incredibly serious investigation and will continue to do so into the future, fully supported by national units, in order to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion”.

Both Garda and the PSNI have asked anyone who saw a black Audi saloon being driven in the Derrylin area of Fermanagh or the Swanlinbar or Killeshandra areas of Cavan areas to make contact.

John McCartin, a director of QIH, told The Irish Times that security measures at the company’s premises were “currently under review”.

“These are attacks on the entire business here,” he said, “so whether or not people feel that their personal security is at risk, these are attacks on their jobs and their wellbeing so those are at risk and people are fearful about that,” he said.

In a statement read on behalf of the staff by Stephen Kelly, the chief executive of Manufacturing NI, employees at the company said the attack on Mr Lunney was the latest in a campaign of intimidation against the directors and senior management of QIH.

“As a staff group, we utterly condemn this and all previous physical assaults, arson attacks and intimidation on members of staff.

‘Stop this campaign’

“The people who are perpetrating these acts do not represent us, or our views, and we plead with them to stop this campaign with immediate effect,” they said.

Mr Kelly carried with him a petition to this effect signed by all 800 members of staff which is to be presented to Mr Lunney’s family as a gesture of solidarity.

Statements of solidarity were also read out from the Fermanagh Trust, where Mr Lunney was a trustee, from the board of Manufacturing NI, the Mineral Products Association and the Irish Concrete Association.

Among those who attended was the North's former first minister, the DUP leader Arlene Foster, who said she had come to stand in solidarity with Mr Lunney and his family.

“What’s important today is that so many people from right across Co Fermanagh want to send a out a message to those people who perpetrated this abhorrent crime, and that they are brought to justice,” she said.

Also present was the MP for the area, Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew and Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times