Northern Ireland news

QIH directors tell Garda Commissioner Drew Harris they 'continue to live in fear'

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (right) and PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne speak to the media during the cross-border conference on organised crime in Co Cavan in September. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

DIRECTORS of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) have said they "continue to live in fear" following the brutal attack on their colleague Kevin Lunney.

The managers called for robust policing action and a cross-border task force after a meeting with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

In a statement, they criticised the policing response to a campaign of intimidation prior to the abduction of Mr Lunney but welcomed "a recent increase in resourcing".

"Progress is being made. Last Friday was the first time since QIH's establishment almost five years ago that its management was not exposed to intimidatory signage or defamatory Facebook pages. The tragedy is that the impetus for this action was a violent attack on Kevin.

"However, QIH directors and their families continue to live in fear. The community and staff of QIH need to see positive action now to give them the confidence to speak out against those perpetrating this campaign of intimidation."

They also claimed a failure to bring those responsible to justice "would leave this peaceful community in a limbo status of fear and paralysis that would undermine the local economy and the rule of law and order in this region".

PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne yesterday rejected suggestions those targeting QIH executives were operating with impunity in policing "no-go" areas.

He acknowledged that people will ultimately judge the police response to the brutal attack on Mr Lunney on whether they make arrests but said patrols had been stepped up.

"I've spoken to officers that patrol that area. They don't, they would not recognise that there are no-go areas - not just in the border, but frankly, right across Northern Ireland."

However, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin claimed yesterday that the "rule of law has gone" on both sides of the border.

"The state is not in control and hasn't been in control for some time and criminality rages supreme," he told the Dáil.

He called for a new agency similar to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) - set up following the 1996 murder of journalist Veronica Guerin - to tackle crime in the border region.

In response, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said an additional 100 gardaí had been sent to the area in the past two years and armed Garda officers to Co Cavan.

"I'm not sure if a statutory agency is the best way for the gardaí and PSNI to work together," he said.

"An agency would take a long time to establish but I certainly wouldn't rule it out.

"I think the best thing they can do is to work together in a practical way."

Read more: 'I felt I was going to die': Kevin Lunney tells of brutal abduction and torture

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