Northern Ireland news

Garda Commissioner defends handling of Kevin Lunney investigation

Quinn executive Kevin Lunney who was abducted and tortured last week

GARDA commissionerDrew Harris has defended the policing of border communities in the wake of the attack on the Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) executive Kevin Lunney.

The former PSNI deputy chief constable said the investigation into the abduction was following "definite lines of inquiry" and appealed for anyone with information to contact either Gardaí or PSNI, who are conducting the joint policing operation.

Police on both sides of the border have been criticised for the lack of arrests in connection amid intimidation against the directors of QIH stretching back over two years.

More than 70 previous threats and attacks have been recorded and are now being investigated as part of the same joint police operation.

Mr Harris also said on Tuesday that a new armed support unit will be in operation in Cavan from Monday and 20 new garda officers will be assigned to border counties from November.

He rejected suggestions that gardaí have failed to protect senior executives at QIH, as well as people living along the border.

"We have in place a specific operation which has been in place now since 2011 and all of the 70 incidents have been subject of investigation," Mr Harris said.

"There have been arrests and files have been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions", he added.

Mr Lunney was abducted by masked men who rammed his car close to his Derrylin home last Tuesday.

He was driven 23 miles across the border to Cavan and tortured. He sistaomed a broken leg, had finger nails removed and the letters QIH were carved into his chest with a knife.

He is one of six directors of QIH who have been under threat. The business once belonged to Sean Quinn, who was Ireland's richest man until his fall from grace after the collapse of the Anglo Irish Bank.

The attack is being linked to a gang of people that include senior dissident republicans living in the Fermanagh and Cavan area.

There has been a heavy police presence since the attack and several items have so far been taken away for forensic examination, including a large horse box.

Gardaí said on Wednesday that they were now also searching for a white 'hi-roof' transit type van.

The van has been described as being "in poor repair and may have a loose 'screeching' fan belt" as well as having a red painted, or partially painted, floor in the rear.

Garda appealed for any person who knows of a similar vehicle, its current whereabouts, or any person who knows who may have had access to that vehicle, to come forward.

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