Northern Ireland news

Co Fermanagh priest brands the kidnapping and attack of Kevin Lunney a 'barbaric act'

Searches were being carried out yesterday in Drumbade outside the village of Ballinagh in Co Cavan. Picture by RTÉ
Marie Louise McConville

A CO Fermanagh priest has branded the abduction and brutal beating of a local businessman at the hands of a masked gang near the border a "barbaric act" and called for an end of such violence.

Fr Gerard Alwill, parish priest of Derrylin, told Masses at the weekend that there was "no room for such violence in a Christian community such as ours" after businessman Kevin Lunney was kidnapped and assaulted by a gang of masked men.

It came as gardaĆ­ were last night carrying out searches in an area believed to have been the location of where Mr Lunney was held.

An area of land was sealed off in Drumbade, close to Ballinagh in Co Cavan yesterday.

Searches were being carried out, including a fenced off site with scrap metal, and it is understood that a container that gardaĆ­ suspect Mr Lunney may have been held in was also being examined.

Mr Lunney, the Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) chief operating officer, was abducted near his home in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh on Tuesday.

He was taken to another location and attacked before being dumped hours later on the side of a road in Co Cavan with what were said to be

"life-changing" injuries.

He has since underwent leg surgery.

Following the attack, hundreds of colleagues and friends held a solidarity march in Derrylin.

It is the latest in a series of attacks on management at the company.

Former billionaire Sean Quinn has repeatedly condemned the string of attacks on workers involved in his former companies, including Quinn Industrial Holdings.

Speaking at Masses, Fr Alwill said to plan to "carry out such a savage attack is totally contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ".

"To plan and carry out such a savage attack runs totally contrary to every sinew of human decency that is within us," he said.

"I, as an individual, and we as a community, are both horrified and disgusted by the brutality of this attack and by the sheer heartlessness that could inflict such suffering on the wife, the children and the wider family of the individual concerned".

The parish priest said while people "have the right to hold different opinions on certain issues and people have the right to air such opinions" nobody "has the right to inflict such an appalling and vicious onslaught on any man or woman, or on any family.

"In Christian eyes, there can be no justification whatsoever for such actions," he said.

"Over the last few days I've sensed a growing feeling of anger, resentment and revulsion among the members of our community over what has happened. Those who have spoken to me have mentioned their sense of shock, their sense of outrage and their sense of disbelief that such a terrible thing could happen here. Many feel helpless and afraid, with no one to speak on their behalf.

"All I can do, as your parish priest, is to give voice to those emotions, and to say, on your behalf, that there can be no room for such violence in a Christian community such as ours.

"In the name of God, and in the name of our community, we ask these people to stop the violence now. There has to be a better way of resolving these issues. In the name of God - stop before somebody gets killed".

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