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Clerics defend Cavan priest Oliver O'Reilly after he spoke out following Kevin Lunney attack

Fr Oliver O’Reilly has spoken out against the violence in the region.

Image: Liam McBurney via PA

THE ASSOCIATION OF Catholic Priests (ACP) in Ireland have praised the work of parish priest Oliver O’Reilly who has spoken out a number of times since the attack on Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney. 

Father O’Reilly has used his sermons to deliver scathing attacks on the people who carried out the attacks on Lunney and his family in recent years. 

The priest described the “long reign of terror” hanging over the Cavan/Fermanagh area and urged all sides of the conflict to end the violence. 

In a statement, the ACP backed Father O’Reilly’s stance and said it fully supported him. 

It read: “The Leadership of the ACP express their support for Oliver O’Reilly PP and the position he has adopted in relation to the recent attack on Mr Kevin Lunney.

“We admire his courage in speaking the truth in a very difficult situation.”

It also emerged over the weekend how Sean Quinn had written to the Vatican to complain about Father O’Reilly’s words from the altar. 

During Mass in the aftermath of the attack, the priest said there is a “false narrative” being pushed by a “small group of people in our midst” about the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings.

He said Lunney and his colleagues are “quality leaders who courageously took on the management of this company at a time of crisis”.

“These men lost their jobs at the time of administration and only came back at the end of 2014 to manage this company in order to save jobs in our region. They have excelled in their endeavours and expanded the workforce to 830 staff. Our support and respect for them has been well earned, and is well deserved.”

The Sunday Independent reported how Quinn himself wrote: “I and my family have also been frightened and intimidated by my being falsely accused of complicity in the attack from the altar in public, by my own local priest.

“I write to [Papal Nuncio to Ireland] Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo and to their eminences to ask them to protect me as a member of the people of God from the misuse of the liturgy and priesthood to make false charges against me.”

The priest told parishioners that the people behind the attack are being led by a “Godfather” figure. He added that the attackers were financed by people “so consumed with hatred they have lost their moral compass”.

While the man believed to have orchestrated the attack on Lunney died in the UK earlier this month after police raided his home, officers on both sides of the border in Ireland are now seeking to gather information on the so-called paymaster who actually ordered the attack.

Lunney’s abduction made headlines after he was discovered on a remote roadside after being dumped in Co Cavan.

He was taken from his car near his home in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh at around 6.40pm on 23 September. He was savagely assaulted and tortured before being left at the side of the road at Drumcoughill, Cornafean in Co Cavan sometime before 9pm the same night.

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Criminals targeting Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) executives are believed to have been behind the attack.

Sean Quinn himself has repeatedly condemned the attacks. In September, he told Northern Sound radio: “As far as I am concerned, I have moved on and am involved in other things. We don’t want to be labelled with this. This is the last thing we want.

“The people doing this are not doing this for the Quinns because they should know this is going to damage the Quinns.

“My view is that you wouldn’t do that to a dog. That is not natural and it doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Last week, gardaí arrested two men, one in his 20s and another in his 40s, and a woman in her 50s in relation to the attack on Lunney. 

The two men were arrested under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, while the woman was arrested was made for withholding information. They have all since been released from custody.

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