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Garda Commissioner says threatening posters against Quinn directors will be removed from lampposts

The Taoiseach said the State won’t be found wanting in ensuring that law and order prevails.

Image: Rollingnews.ie

GARDA COMMISSIONER DREW Harris has said he does not accept that the border area is becoming a lawless region.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, he said “to the contrary, we are there to enforce the rule of law [in the border area] and to ensure that people can go about their business”. 

Harris said threatening posters on lampposts in the Cavan area warning people not to speak out will be removed.

He added that he is confident with the progress being made in investigating the recent abduction of Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney from his car near his home in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh at around 6.40pm on 23 September.

He was savagely assaulted at a second location before being left at the side of the road at Drumcoughill, Cornafean, Co Cavan sometime before 9pm the same night.

This week executives of QIH issued a statement after fresh threats were made against them.

The letter warned the directors that this was their “final warning” and that “we could have killed Kevin very easily”. 

The company’s CEO Liam McCaffrey has said that the fresh threats made against him and other directors comes from criminals who want to “take control this area and control everybody”.

Along with the threatening letter against directors, the council was also warned against removing posters erected as part of the campaign of intimidation against the directors.

The letter warned that they will be targeted if they remove the posters.

Harris said a specialist team will be brought in to remove the posters, if necessary.

Harris said this evening that gardaí were involved in a difficult and complex investigation.

Garda protection

He would not be drawn on what protections are being afforded to QIH employees, but told TheJournal.ie that the necessary resources to counter the threats made against the directors and other employees are in place.

Harris also told reporters that there did not seem to be a “causal link” between recent incidents in the border area and said he did not believe there was a single criminal gang behind all incidents.

When asked about the theory that a “paymaster” is behind such attacks and threats against the QIH directors, Harris said such information should be brought to the gardaí so that that line of inquiry can be pursued. He said he would be making no comment on that matter.

His comments follow on from the car of Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny being burnt out as well as an arson attack at Emyvale Garda Station in Co Monaghan.

The commissioner added that additional resources, such as the armed response unit, have been placed in the area. He stated that an additional 45 officers will be deployed at the end of November as part of a commitment to boost security resources.

Speaking before the meeting today, Varadkar said he was keen to discuss matters of great concern to the government with the commissioner, including the “threats to the lives and safety of the Quinn Insurance directors, the involvement of at least five Irish people in human trafficking and migrants and also recent attacks on the Garda station at Emyvale and on the property of public representatives, on Martin Kenny TD”.

“These are issues we take of the utmost seriousness. They do raise questions about the rule of law in his State and I want to assure people that the State won’t be found wanting in ensuring that law and order prevails and that people in the Border counties can be assured of their peace and their security.

“There has been a very significant increase in Garda resources in the Border counties. There is an extra 150 gardaí assigned there just in the last two years. There is an extra 50 garda staff and an armed support unit now operational in Cavan.

“But we are keen to talk about how we can provide additional resources for the gardai in that area.

He said that greater cross border co-operation is also needed.

Law and order

“We must have the rule of law prevail and law and order prevail in all parts of our country and people who live in the border counties are entitled to peace and security just like everyone else,” said the Taoiseach.

Minister Flanagan said the message to people along the border areas is that “those responsible for the heinous crime [against Lunney] and some unrelated in recent times will be brought to justice having regard to the fact that there is an unprecedented level of coordination”.

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