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'Lunney attack was the last straw': Martin says cross-border agency needed to root the 'evil out of the border region'

Martin said the people living along the border have had enough.

mm Micheál Martin rose the Kevin Lunney attack in the Dáil today. Source: Oireachtas TV

A CROSS-BORDER STATUTORY agency should be set up to root the “evil out of the border region”, according to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Speaking about the recent attack on Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director, Kevin Lunney, during Leaders’ Questions today, he condemned the attack stating that the perpetrators need to be stamped out.

Martin said they have no respect for the law, and are living in their own “twilight zone”.

Lunney, who’s also the chief operating officer of QIH, was abducted from his car near his home in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh at around 6.40pm last 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. The Irish News reported this morning that Lunney’s attackers carved the letters QIH into his chest with a knife.

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.

Paul Quinn

For too long, such violent attacks have taken place along the border regions, said Martin. The Lunney attack reminded the Fianna Fáil leader of the murder of Paul Quinn. 

Quinn was 21 when he was beaten to death by a gang of eight to 10 men at a barn in Tullycora, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan on 20 October 2007.

In the last decade, 23 people have been arrested during the course of the investigation – 14 in the Republic and nine in Northern Ireland.

It is widely believed that former or current IRA members were involved in the murder.

Martin said the people living along the border have had enough, and highlighted that attacks and intimidation on workers and staff of QIH have been ongoing since 2011. 

The time has come for both the British and Irish governments, as well as the Northern Ireland Executive, to establish a cross-border agency to “root this evil out of the border region”, said Martin.

Agency with teeth 

He said such an agency “needs teeth and resources, task forces won’t cut it” anymore, he added.

“There is an alternative world operating in the border region,” he said, stating that the attack on Lunney was the “last straw”.

The Fianna Fáil leader said that when journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered, the government acted to bring in legislation to establish the Criminal Assets Bureau.

He said similar measures and the same degree of urgency is needed now to “take on these thugs”. 

Responding, Business Minister Heather Humphreys, who was standing in for the Taoiseach during Leaders’ Questions while he is in the US, said what happened to Lunney was “outrageous”.

Humphreys, who is from the Cavan–Monaghan region, said she has known Lunney for many years.

When she heard what had happened to him, the minister said she questioned how a human being could do such a thing to another.

The minister said she stands by all the directors of the company, as well as all the staff.

She added that the attackers have no support from the local community. She told the Dáil that the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan is with the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris today in the area, where he plans to visit the Quinn Holdings business. 

It has been confirmed that the Garda Armed Support Unit will be stationed in Cavan from this coming Monday.

Humphreys outlined to Martin that a cross border task force is already in place to deal with such incidents.

However, Martin stated that the task force is not working, stating that such violence and intimidation has been ongoing for decades.

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