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Kevin Lunney abduction: Ex-IRA member among 'gang of 10' believed to be behind brutal attack

Searches have been taking place today as the joint Garda-PSNI investigation continues.

The scene in Drombade today, as Garda searches continue.
The scene in Drombade today, as Garda searches continue.
Image: TheJournal.ie

Updated Sep 23rd 2019, 10:02 PM

GARDAÍ INVESTIGATING THE abduction and serious assault of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director Kevin Lunney have a list of more than ten people of interest they’re looking at as part of the probe. 

The company’s director and chief operating officer was abducted from his car near his home in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh at around 6.40pm on Tuesday.

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.

The businessman had his leg broken, some of his fingernails removed and his neck cut with a blade during the ordeal. 

Officers investigating the attack believe he was brought to a horsebox in the townland of Drombade, near Ballinagh in Cavan – around thirty minutes away from Lunney’s home. 

A number of Quinn executives who had previously been targeted have received safety updates and are also receiving protection from both gardaí and the PSNI.

It is thought another attack on a Quinn executive is “very unlikely”. Sources told TheJournal.ie that this is due to the heightened media attention on the Lunney attack in recent days. 

Initial investigations have yielded results for gardaí. It is now believed that a gang led by a former IRA member with a string of convictions was behind the planning of the attack. 

Gardaí believe that over ten people may have been involved in the incident. Searches are being carried out in Cavan, Leitrim and Fermanagh by the PSNI and gardaí.

Another known criminal is also on the garda list of persons of interest, after he was captured on CCTV buying bleach a day before the attack.  

The businessman’s open wounds were doused in bleach while he was in the horsebox, investigators believe. 

Intelligence gathered by officers in the initial aftermath of the attack led officers to the remote location at Drombade.

Forensic teams were today combing the site for any piece of evidence that may place a suspect at the scene. 

Gardaí have this evening confirmed that they have completed their search in the Ballinagh area of Cavan as part of the investigation. 

‘Savages’

Many locals near Lunney’s home in Kinawley were reluctant to talk on the record, as TheJournal.ie visited today. 

One woman we spoke to outside a pub in the village said that the she knew the Lunney family well and added that she hoped that the “savages” who carried out the attack would be brought to justice.

68-year-old Peader McAdoo, who said he was happy to have his name published, has lived in the Swanlinbar area for the last 20 years. He said that what had been happening in the area was “just as bad” as what happened during the Troubles. 

McAdoo, who is originally from Downpatrick, Co Down, said:

“It’s come to the point where we’re not surprised to hear about people getting attacked. It’s just as bad as what was happening in the 70s and 80s. We should not be getting used to this sort of thing happening again. It’s not right. The police have to be able to get on with it. Give them what they need both sides of the border.

I don’t know the man [Lunney] at all but when I heard what happened to him, I felt sick. Disgusting thing to happen to a father coming back from work to his family.

There have been over 70 reported incidents involving violence and intimidation against members of the Quinn board since 2011 yet no arrests have been made by gardaí. 

In the last 12 months, there have been fire attacks on a car at the home of Chief Financial Officer Dara O’Reilly in Butlersbridge, Cavan, and one at Kevin Lunney’s tyre factory in Cavan.

The car of QIH’s senior manager Tony Lunney’s daughter was set alight outside the family’s home in Ballyconnell, Cavan, at about 11.20pm on Halloween night. Tony Lunney is a brother of Kevin. 

Gardaí in the Cavan district have been carrying out detailed investigations into all three incidents and believe they are linked to a continuous campaign of intimidation against members of QIH. 

QIH was established in 2014 and comprises elements of businessman Sean Quinn’s former businesses.

A statement issued last week on behalf of the staff at QIH said: “We the staff of QIH want to express our unequivocal support for Kevin and his family and wish him a full and speedy recovery from the horrific injuries that have been inflicted on him.” 

“This attack was not only an attack on Kevin, but on the entire staff and community”. 

“As a staff group, we utterly condemn this and all previous physical assaults, arson attacks and intimidation on members of staff. The people who are perpetrating these acts do not represent us, or our views, and we plead with them to stop this campaign with immediate effect,” the statement said. 

We demand an end to this reign of terror, to all intimidation and attacks on management and their properties. 

The staff have called on local politicians, the PSNI and gardaí to allocate “whatever resources are necessary to bring these perpetrators to justice and to bring an end to these brutal attacks”. 

A rally in support of Kevin Lunney was held at the QIH offices on Friday last. 

Sean Quinn, speaking to local radio station Northern Sound last week, described the attack on Kevin Lunney as “barbaric”. 

“My reaction would be the same as anybody else: it would be a sense of outrage. It would appear to me to be a fairly barbaric attack,” he said.

“Any proper individual, anybody with any sense or morals, would of course condemn that. That man has a wife and kids and of course, you’d condemn it totally.”

IMG_0484 A sign just outside Derrylin. Source: TheJournal.ie

Cavan/Monaghan Divisional GRA representative James Morrisroe said that the downgrading of the garda station at Ballyconnell in Cavan, just four kilometres from the Quinn site, has led to a decrease in the amount of officers on the street, leading to a deficit in information gathering and intelligence.

He told TheJournal.ie:

“Ballyconnell lost its district headquarters status in 2011 and went from a scenario where there was 32 members based there then to 13 members now. It was promised then that there would be no dilution of the service to the public but it’s simply not credible to suggest that such a drastic cut to Garda numbers there would have no impact on service delivery. Bawnboy Garda station was also closed.

“The only way to effectively police the community is from within the community with the support of the community. Downgrading strategically-located Garda districts and taking community gardaí out of these areas and away from the communities they serve is doomed to failure and this has been proven time and time again.

The GRA has called on numerous occasions for an armed response unit in each Garda division but as yet this has not been delivered. Serious criminal activity will only be effectively counteracted by a properly resourced Garda response.

An incident room has been set up at Cavan Garda Station. 

Gardaí are this evening extending their appeal to anyone in the wider Cavan area, extending from Ballyconnell/Belturbet to Cavan Town, Ballinagh and the townland of Drumbrade, who saw a black saloon Audi on Tuesday, 17 September between the hours of 6pm and 10pm to come forward. 

They are also appealing for anyone with dashcam footage along the N87, N3, N55 and local roads to make contact.

Gardaí are further appealing to anyone who has any information on this criminal attack or other criminal activities which have taken place in the Cavan/Fermanagh border area over recent years to contact Cavan Garda Station on 049 436 8800, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station. 

The PSNI can also be contacted at 101, quoting reference number 1748 of 17/09/19. 

Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. 

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