The Irish Times view on the Kevin Lunney attack: enough is enough

This latest outrage damages Ireland’s reputation as a safe and law-abiding place

The abduction and life-threatening assault on Kevin Lunney, chief operating officer at Quinn Industrial Holdings, has dramatically expose the plodding response by police services along the border to a campaign of intimidation and criminal damage. Photograph: Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA Wire

The abduction and life-threatening assault on Kevin Lunney, chief operating officer at Quinn Industrial Holdings, has dramatically expose the plodding response by police services along the border to a campaign of intimidation and criminal damage. Photograph: Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA Wire

 

The abduction and life-changing assault on Kevin Lunney, chief operating officer at Quinn Industrial Holdings, has dramatically exposed the plodding response by police services along the border to a campaign of intimidation and criminal damage. This kidnapping, involving a specially procured horsebox in which he was tortured, bore the hallmarks of a paramilitary operation. Those responsible were said to be “unhappy” about the way restructured Quinn companies were being run. Others regarded them as hired paramilitary thugs. In either case, the motive for the attack was money and financial gain.

The Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland are said to be liaising closely. So they should. Ministers and politicians have expressed outrage. Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan confirmed that files relating to earlier attacks had been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Enough is enough. This latest outrage not only affects Quinn Industrial Holdings: it damages Ireland’s reputation as a safe and law-abiding place in which to conduct business. How can investors be encouraged to bring jobs to border areas when this happens?

Senior executives at Quinn Industrial Holdings have been advised by gardai to build “panic rooms” within their homes, where they and their families might hide if attacked. The company also has a duty of care to its employees. Security is paramount. Drafting in additional gardaí and providing personal protection for those at risk will help. But while locals remain scared to give their names to reporters, a malign paramilitary miasma will persist.

In an interview, Sean Quinn said he “totally condemned” the attack on Lunney. His family had been “outraged” by the attack and feared his family would “take the flack for it”. He had no involvement with Quinn Industrial Holdings for three years, he said.

During the past eight years, an estimated 70 incidents of intimidation and criminal damage took place as Sean Quinn’s business empire fell apart. After a financial restructuring, Quinn Industrial Holdings was established in 2014 and Quinn and his nephew were temporarily employed as consultants. Attacks and criminal damage continued. Then, events took a darker turn. There were bullets through the post. Last February, an anonymous letter threatened five directors with “a permanent solution” if certain business decisions were not reversed.

Motivation for this attack was clearly linked to financial gain and company decisions. Securing company assets at a knockdown price because of intimidation or extortion is always an attractive proposition. The crime cannot be allowed to fester. Those involved must be identified, tried and convicted.

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