Simon Coveney: Finding Quinn attacks gang a priority
Catching the criminals behind the intimidation of Quinn directors is a high priority at the top of the Irish government, Simon Coveney has insisted.
Mr Coveney told the Dail he was aware of concerns that investors in Quinn Industrial Holdings may pull out, with the loss of hundreds of jobs, if the campaign of violence in the Fermanagh/Cavan border area cannot be stopped.
The tanaiste’s comments came as gardai and the PSNI continue to investigate the brutal kidnap and torture of QIH operations director Kevin Lunney in September.
Mr Lunney, a 50-year-old father of six, spoke publicly about his ordeal for the first time this week in a powerful interview for BBC NI Spotlight.
No one has been arrested, with police on both sides of the border under mounting pressure to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Mr Coveney insisted the issue was a key focus of the government as he was pressed by Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty in the Dail yesterday.
“This is a high priority, I assure you, right at the top of government,” he said.
“I am conscious of the concerns in relation to jobs that potentially are at risk if we cannot deal with the policing challenges here, but I can assure you the government will continue to focus on successful prosecutions of people who belong in jail rather than intimidating their communities as they have been doing.”
The attack on Mr Lunney was the most serious of a five-year campaign of intimidation targeting the companies and directors that now control the business portfolio that was built up by fallen tycoon Sean Quinn.
A sinister element in the community in the border area where the companies are based continues to vent anger at the demise of Mr Quinn’s empire.
The Quinn family has consistently condemned and distanced itself from those attacking the new owners.
Mr Doherty said those orchestrating the campaign must be exposed to the full rigour of the law.
He said if investors pulled out, the jobs of 850 people directly employed by QIH would be at risk, as well as the jobs of 2,500 people who work indirectly with the companies.
“The question that needs to be asked is who do these actions serve, because they definitely don’t serve the community,” said Mr Doherty, who questioned whether sufficient Garda resources were being diverted to the investigation.
“The only people this benefits are those who stand to personally benefit from these actions.
“The criminals responsible need to be taken to justice, that is vital, but the individual or individuals behind this campaign needs to be identified and the same force and rigours of the law need to be placed upon that person or persons.”