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'Law and order must, and will, prevail' - Leo Varadkar meets with QIH directors

The Taoiseach said he particularly wanted to meet with Kevin Lunney follwoing his “barbaric” abduction.

QIH executive Kevin Lunney.
QIH executive Kevin Lunney.

Updated Sun 6:30 PM

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has met with the five directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) this afternoon.

Varadkar said in a statement that he met with them in order to thank them for their “courage and determination” as well as to thank Kevin Lunney for the resilience he has shown since his “barbaric abduction, assault and torture”.

Lunney was savagely assaulted and tortured before being left at the side of the road at Drumcoughill, Cornafean in Co Cavan on 23 September. The main suspect who it’s believed orchestrated the abduction died on Friday during a police raid in the UK

The incident was far from an isolated one and comes as part of a a long-running and brutal campaign of intimidation.

Varadkar was in the border region today and also attended Remembrance Sunday events in Co. Fermanagh

“This afternoon I met the five directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings. I sought this meeting in order to thank the directors for their courage, their determination and their commitment to this vitally important company which creates so much employment and economic activity in a region that needs it,” Varadkar said this evening. 

I wanted to hear their views and assure them of the government’s support for QIH, which employs more than 800 people in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and is an integral part of the community.

“In particular, I wanted to thank Kevin Lunney for the resilience he has shown following his barbaric abduction, assault and torture,” Varadkar added. 

“I discussed my recent meeting with the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice. I assured them that their own security, that of their employees, and law and order in the border region is treated with the utmost seriousness at the top of government.

“Law and order must, and will, prevail in all parts of the country. We agreed to stay in contact as the criminal investigation against the perpetrators proceeds.” 

Varadkar’s meeting with the QIR directors comes after Minister of State Michael D’Arcy said earlier that Lunney and other QIH directors have been “let down” by local gardaí and not the government. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, the Fine Gael minister said the campaign of intimidation faced by QIH directors was not down to a lack of garda resources.

D’Arcy said today that while people in the border region are disappointed that the campaign has continued, it is not down to a lack of action. 

“The disappointment wasn’t from the very top, from Commissioner Drew Harris, it wasn’t from the Taoiseach, it wasn’t from the Minister for Justice. The disappointment was on the ground in relation to the policing that happened in those areas,” he said.

PastedImage-82327 Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance Michael D'Arcy. Source: Twitter/rtetwip

There are gardaí there, there are senior gardaí there, and it is their job to ensure what happened didn’t happen. It has happened. But it’s crucial to stay with the aspect of the paymaster.

“Of course those directors are disappointed. What happened was an outrage it was hideous the treatment of Kevin Lunney and it should have been dealt with sooner and better at that level, but I mean on every on every occasion, the Taoiseach shouldn’t have to get involved, or the Minister for Justice or the Garda Commissioner. There are senior gardaí in those divisions in those area who let those gentlemen down.”

“I don’t believe it’s a matter of resources when you have criminology of that high-level nature. It’s not a question of resources,” he added. 

(Click here if video doesn’t play)

Fianna Fáil’s Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith told the programme that he will be tabling a bill that seeks the establishment of a new cross-border policing agency. 

“I believe that a focused agency with its sole remit of dealing with the thuggery and criminality and the huge money-making operations that some people have gained from over the years. That we need that concerted effort to eliminate this thuggery,” he said.

This criminality is affecting small, genuine businesses. It’s costing our exchequer money as well. And that’s apart from the heinous crimes and what was committed what was done to Kevin Lunney.

D’Arcy said that he felt there was a risk that a new agency would simply “start replicating what’s already there”.

“We have CAB, we have the cross-border cooperation that’s happening right now. But it’s not just cross the border. It’s multi-jurisdictional. We saw with the raids during the week in the UK,” he said. 

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy TD said her party would be backing Smith’s bill, arguing that a new approach is needed.

“The border is a different type of region and a different type of policing because of the interface with the two different police forces. And that’s why we’ve got to look at this differently. But we tend to be very reactive, it’s only when a high level thing that really is obscene that happens that we react to it in a way that should have been dealt with,” she said. 

In a statement this evening, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said that an agreement to set up joint investigation team between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI was signed this week. 

“Policing in the border region has long been very challenging as criminals have always sought to exploit that border,” he said.

I have every confidence that An Garda Síochána and the PSNI are working together at historically close levels to prevent and investigate cross-border crime and the fruits of that cooperation were evident this week in a series of major searches. 

“Nobody is above the law anywhere on the island and the new Joint Investigation Team agreement signed this week formalises the necessary policing cooperation and leaves no hiding place for criminals operating in the border area – they will be relentlessly pursued in both jurisdictions.”

Flanagan added that there are 1,500 gardai in the border region, including three Garda Armed Support Units.

After meeting with the Taoiseach, QIH said it was pleased with Varadkar’s approach and that it is “satisfied” that resources are now in place. 

The company said in a statement: “QIH welcomes the personal interest taken by An Taoiseach in bringing to justice those responsible for a campaign of terror and intimidation against its staff.

“The company believes the establishment of a joint investigative team is a critical step and is satisfied that the necessary resources and resolve are now in place for an effective investigation.”

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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