‘This is like something from the Troubles’: Derrylin locals react to Lunney attack

Kidnapping of QIH chief operations officer prompts shock and silence in Co Fermanagh

Former Quinn Insurance executive Kevin Lunney.

Former Quinn Insurance executive Kevin Lunney.

 

In Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, on Thursday there was much shock, but also silence.

Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) chief operating officer Kevin Lunney works here and is a local man. He was born and reared in the village of Kinawley, only a few miles away, and lives there with his wife and six children.

Lunney had almost completed the short drive home from work on Tuesday when he was snatched from his car, bound and bundled into the boot of another vehicle. He was driven around for an hour before being taken out and savagely beaten. He sustained life-changing injuries before being dumped on a roadside some 35km from his home, where he was found by a passer-by who raised the alarm.

Brutal

The day after on Derrylin’s main street, it seemed as if every whispered conversation was of surprise about the attack, and shock at how brutal it was.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard,” said one construction worker, who declined to be identified.

“It’s unbelievable that something like this would happen in this day and age. This is a man who was out all day working and was going home to his wife and family. Can you not go out and do your day’s work any more?”

A woman leading a small child by the hand said it was “a shocking attack”.

“It feels dangerous. This is a place where we know from history what can happen. This is like something from the Troubles,” she said.

Another man said the attack on Lunney was “disgraceful”.

“It has all the bearings of a terrorist attack,” he said, adding that he was a former employee of Quinn Glass, which was once part of the business empire owned by Derrylin man Sean Quinn.

Affection

“Sean Quinn put Ballyconnell and Derrylin on the map,” he says. It is for this reason, he explained, that people in the area have such affection for Quinn.

Even today, he says, “Quinn Industrial Holdings have 800 people employed here. They should be thankful they have a job.”

The Quinn name is ubiquitous in Derrylin and this part of Fermanagh and Cavan. One of the QIH companies, Quinn Building Products, is on the Ballyconnel Road and the Quinn logo is easy to spot on billboards and vehicles in the town.

Yet for all the strength of the condemnation of the attack on Derrylin’s main street, not one person is prepared to be identified.

“I work in construction,” one man explains as he gets back into the cab of his lorry. “I’d rather stay anonymous. You know yourself.”

Others grow quiet when approached.

“Shocking,” is all one woman will say; a response typical of many.

Sinn Féin councillor Chris McCaffrey, a neighbour of Lunney’s, said his father phoned him in shock after hearing what had happened, and that he had been unable to get it out of his head since.

“It was just so brutal,” he said. “The community has absolutely rejected what has happened, everyone is shocked and completely opposed to it . . . It has left a very bad, ugly mark on the area.”

Lunney is well-respected locally, McCaffrey added, and known for his involvement in the parish and with the local GAA club.

“That’s another reason it’s so shocking, because everyone has someone in the family who works there [in QIH]. That makes it more frightening, because we all know people who work in the company.”

The local MP, Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, said she has known Lunney for many years, and that they had spoke of the intimidation of the company’s senior executives the last time they met. “It seemed to have died down,” she said. “Everyone in Fermanagh is shocked and stunned at the nature of the attack.”