Northern Ireland

Priest labels Seán Quinn's new book as 'a self-serving exercise in revising history'

Fr Oliver O'Reilly (right) has written of his take on Seán Quinn's new self-penned book 'In My Own Words'.
Fr Oliver O'Reilly (right) has written of his take on Seán Quinn's new self-penned book 'In My Own Words'. Fr Oliver O'Reilly (right) has written of his take on Seán Quinn's new self-penned book 'In My Own Words'.

A NEW book written by Seán Quinn has been described as “a highly selective self-serving exercise in revising history” by his former parish priest.

Fr Oliver O’Reilly said the former billionaire emerges from the self-penned publication as “angry.” 

The cleric, who frequented Quinn’s Ballyconnell home after he relocated to the Kildallen parish in 2015, later fell foul of the businessman in the wake of the brutal 2019 attack on Kevin Lunney.

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In the days after the attack, the Co Cavan priest delivered a homily in Quinn’s local church in Ballyconnell, condemning “the paymaster or paymasters” responsible.

He also spoke of “a mafia style group with its own ‘godfather’ operating in our region for some time behind the scenes”.

Mr Quinn, who has always denied any connection to the attack on Kevin Lunney or any acts of intimidation related to his former businesses, later branded the priest a “pure back-stabber” in the 2022 ‘Quinn Country’ documentary series, broadcast by RTÉ.

Writing in the Sunday Independent in response to the Fermanagh businessman’s new book, Fr O’Reilly, who now lives in the village of Arva in Co Cavan, recalled first meeting Seán Quinn in the early 2000s.

“Like many people in west Cavan at that time I both feared and revered Seán Quinn in equal measure.

“He had a reputation of a man not to be trifled with.”

The priest, who has read Quinn’s new book In My Own Words, claimed its contents are “highly selective”.

In his own self-penned piece published over the weekend, the priest said the book had omitted government offers allowing Quinn to regain some properties, including the Slieve Russell, in return for disclosing overseas assets.

“He tries to create a new narrative and this autobiography was an ideal opportunity to become his own spin doctor,” said Fr O’Reilly.

The priest said while Quinn deserves much credit for the business acumen that built his empire: “The author comes across as an angry man with a deep grudge."

“He finds it much easier to blame and scapegoat others rather than take responsibility for his own serious mistakes.”

Recalling the period both before and after the kidnapping of Kevin Lunney, Fr O’Reilly said the directors of Quinn’s former companies endured years of “horrendous intimidation, abuse, threats, physical assaults and orchestrated vilification on local social media platforms”.

He said: “For them it was like living in a war zone."

The priest said he was unsuccessful in attempts at mediation.

Writing of one his final visits to the Quinn home, Fr O’Reilly said he was shocked by the former billionaire’s “negative reaction” and “lack of concern” over the sabotage of infrastructure around his former factories at the time. 

On his decision to speak out following the kidnap of Lunney, the priest said: “I decided that in order to have a clear conscience I could no longer be a bystander and so I felt impelled to put pen to paper in my weekend homily which I shared with the public."

In his autobiography, Mr Quinn described the "disgraceful insinuations" that he had some involvement in Mr Lunney's abduction, maintaining there was no "scintilla of evidence" that he had any "hand, act or part in it".