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Armed gardaí to patrol Cavan from Monday as officers call for information on van with 'distinctive' red floor

Twenty new recruits are also being sent to the district in November.

File photo of armed gardaí.
File photo of armed gardaí.
Image: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

THE GARDA ARMED Support Unit (ASU) will be stationed in Cavan from this coming Monday, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris confirmed this morning. 

Speaking at the Cross Border Organised Crime Conference outside Ballyconnell, Cavan, Harris said that all possible resources are being given to police what he described as the “vicious” attack on Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) boss Kevin Lunney last week. 

He said that on top of 20 extra new recruits being sent to the Cavan/Monaghan region in late November, members of the elite ASU will patrol the region from Monday. 

Calling on members of the public to come forward with information on the brutal assault of Kevin Lunney, Harris said that gardaí and the PSNI are particularly interested about the movements of a “tall” Ford Transit van on the evening of Tuesday 17 September. 

“We’re anxious to know about movements of a tall white Ford Transit van – it has a red floor within that. Someone might know who owns that vehicle and we would ask for them to get in touch with us,” Harris added. 

There have been over 70 reported incidents involving violence and intimidation against members of the Quinn board since 2011. There has been just a handful of arrests in relation to the incidents with no charges being brought.

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. 

Asked if he accepted the criticism of the force in relation to the lack of successful prosecutions of these incidents, Harris defended gardaí and said he did not accept that it has failed to deal with them. 

He said: “In respect of dreadful attack, there is a joint investigation ongoing but also that investigation is very active and it is not short of resources. In Cavan it is supported by national units. We are following up lines of inquiry.”

The PSNI is going to receive 190 police to the border region in the coming months. 

Chief Constable Simon Byrne said both police forces are determined to see results. 

He said: “We’re both determined to make progress. Self- evidently it’s been an awful attack. It’s too early to rush to a hindsight test to see what could have been done but my brief is that this escalation of violence came out of nowhere.” 

Harris was asked if there was an imbalance in resources between gardaí and the PSNI, given that 190 PSNI officers are going to the border while just 20 inexperienced garda recruits will be going to the region in November. 

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Harris said: “There’s not an imbalance – this year we will have recruited 600 gardaí. By the end of 2021, we’ll be an organisation of 15,000 sworn officers and 4,000 garda staff 

“I would say in the last two years the number of gardai assigned to the border has increased by 150. The ASU will also be there so this is an area of growth.”

Speaking about the Ford Transit van that officers believe is linked to the abduction of Lunney, a garda spokesman said: “An Garda Siochana, today, are appealing for information in relation to a white ‘hi-roof’ transit type van.  This van is in poor repair and may have a loose ‘screeching’ fan belt.  This van has a distinctive painted red floor or partially red floor in the rear cargo area. 

“An Garda Siochana would like to speak to any person who knows of a similar vehicle, it’s current whereabouts, or any person who knows who may have had access to that vehicle on the evening of Tuesday 17 September.”

Anyone with information on this criminal attack or other criminal activities which have taken place in the Cavan/ Fermanagh border area over recent years to make contact with An Garda Siochana at Cavan Garda Station 049 4368800, the Garda Confidential Number 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station. 

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