The Irish Times view on the QIH security situation: Facing down a grave threat
It’s difficult not to conclude that it has taken the brutal attack on Lunney to concentrate minds within Government on a problem that should have been taken far more seriously before now
Hundreds gathered at the Quinn Industrail Holdings headquarters in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh in September to show their support for injured company director Kevin Lunney, who was abducted and tortured by a gang in the area. Photograph: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
The latest threat against the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) in Co Cavan, coming as it does amidst public outrage over the savage assault and torture of one of those executives, amounts to a direct challenge to the State itself. As such, it must be faced down with all the energy and resources the security services can muster.
In a statement this week, less than six weeks after Kevin Lunney’s abduction and mutilation, an unidentified individual or group warned five QIH directors, including Lunney, that they would face a “permanent solution” if they did not resign.
Ensuring public safety is the State’s responsibility. If it cannot do that in one small, self-contained community, we have a grave problem
It should never have been allowed come to this. The QIH directors have suffered years of intimidation and harassment, and all the signs suggest that the official response from the security forces was lamentably lacking. This week, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was forced to announce that officers would take down a huge sign on public display in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, that made claims about the income of three QIH directors and then stated: “Seán Quinn, zero £pounds” – a reference to the local businessman who founded the former Quinn companies and lost control of them during the crash. Gardaí duly took down the sign, but it had been there for more than a year. Its purpose was clearly to assert local supremacy and to defy the authorities, so why did it take so long for gardaí to act? Why only now are additional gardaí being sent to the region?
It’s difficult not to conclude that it has taken the brutal attack on Lunney to concentrate minds within Government – a Government led by a party, Fine Gael, that claims law and order as a core component of its political identity – on a problem that should have been taken far more seriously before now.
Government Ministers and gardaí will argue that they need people to speak up and break the omerta that hangs over the affected communities. That’s right. But it doesn’t get the authorities off the hook. Ensuring public safety is the State’s responsibility. If it cannot do that in one small, self-contained community, we have a grave problem.