Northern Ireland news

Priest to install security at parochial house after speaking out against attack on Quinn employee

Fr Oliver O'Reilly, the parish priest of Ballyconnell, is to install security at the parochial house after speaking out against the attack on Kevin Lunney. Picture by BBC
John Monaghan

A PRIEST who spoke out against an attack on a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) is to install security at his parochial house.

Fr Oliver O'Reilly, the parish priest of Ballyconnell in Co Cavan, also said he wants to "take a back seat for a while" and make no further public comment to "give peace and harmony a chance".

Following the abduction and torture of Kevin Lunney, a senior director at the company, in September, Fr O'Reilly used his homily to condemn both "the perpetrators of this vile act" and "the paymaster or paymasters", describing them as a "Mafia style group".

In the latest of a series of attacks stretching back almost five years on property and people connected to QIH, Mr Lunney was driving from work to his home in Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, when his vehicle was rammed.

He was bundled into a car and taken back across the border where he was tortured. His leg was broken, his finger nails were cut off and the letters QIH were carved into his chest before he was doused in bleach and dumped by the side of the road.

Fr O'Reilly said he had written the homily in "anger" at the "awfulness of the injuries inflicted on Kevin Lunney" but now wishes to step back.

"My intention is to step away from this atmosphere for a time, in case I add more fuel to the fire by any public statement. I invite others in this fray to step back from the precipice before life is lost and history made in the wrong way. Give peace and harmony a chance.

"The more you speak, the more you are at risk... but if there is further intimidation, I intend to return to the fray," he told the Sunday Independent.

Last week a masked man was photographed holding a statement received by The Irish News which made a new threat against five directors at QIH.

An element in the border region continues to express its anger at the fall of Seán Quinn, who was once the richest man in Ireland before his business empire collapsed and was bought over by businessmen backed by three US investment funds.

Mr Quinn has said he has repeatedly condemned the attacks on QIH executives and that he and his family have no involvement with them.

The directors of QIH are due to meet with the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris in Monaghan tomorrow.

Tony Lunney, Kevin's brother and also a QIH director, told The Sunday Independent: "We will be asking for an update on the investigation, what progress has been made and why there have been no arrests six weeks after Kevin was attacked."

Another director, John McCartin, warned that if "we (the current directors) end up out of that business, it closes".

"They've (the owners) told us that. End of story. 850 direct jobs and 2,500 jobs in the wider community would be gone and it will be absolute devastation for the area," he told The Irish Mail on Sunday.

Following a meeting with QIH directors on Friday, a group of elected Sinn Féin representatives from both sides of the border - TDs Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and Martin Kenny and Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew - issued a joint appeal for anyone with relevant information to come forward.

"We urge our respective electorates, and all opinion across these counties, to fully co-operate with the ongoing investigations being carried out by An Garda Síochana and the PSNI," they said in a statement to The Irish News.

"No one should be afraid to come forward with relevant information that might lead to bringing this sad chapter in this region to an end. There can be no countenancing the activities of these people. There are no allegiances, no allegiances whatsoever, that justify their behaviour."

A cross-border Sinn Féin delegation - pictured meeting QIH directors on Friday - has issued a joint appeal for anyone with information on the attacks to come forward

Kevin Lunney, a director at QIH, was abducted and tortured in September

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