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Search for Peter Darragh continues as Govt 'work hard' to retrieve assets

Meanwhile, support for the Quinn family remains strong in their home county of Fermanagh.

Outside the High Court on the first day of their hearing earlier this year.
Outside the High Court on the first day of their hearing earlier this year.
Image: Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland

AN ARREST WARRANT issued in relation to Peter Darragh Quinn remains in place but Irish authorities can do little if the nephew of Ireland’s one-time richest man Seán Quinn has left the country.

Peter Darragh was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to three months in prison, along with his cousin, last week. But while Seán Jr has started his jail term at Mountjoy, Peter Darragh failed to turn up to the High Court and has not been seen since the early hours of Friday morning.

The arrest warrant issued by Justice Elizabeth Dunne, however, only applies in the Republic so the 34-year-old cannot be detained in any areas outside the jurisdiction of the Gardaí. It is believed that Quinn may have crossed the border into Northern Ireland or travelled abroad where he is out of the reach of Irish authorities, much like the assets which landed him in this precarious position in the first place.

A European Arrest Warrant is not an option for the court as the charge against the businessman – contempt for failing to reverse the steps taken to keep millions of euro out of reach of the family’s lender Anglo Irish Bank – is a civil matter, not a criminal one.

According to local reports in his home county of Fermanagh, there was very little activity near Peter Quinn’s permanent residence in Enniskillen over the weekend. Gardaí have reportedly visited a number of his addresses south of the border but there has been no sign of him.

It now seems the only way that Peter Darragh will end up in prison is if he hands himself over at a garda station – a move that may be welcomed by Seán Jr as he appeals his sentence.

Seán Quinn Senior is expected to launch a Supreme Court challenge as early as today against the sensational High Court rulings. He now has three months to comply with orders to reverse an asset-stripping scheme aimed at keeping assets out of the reach of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

Junior Minister at the Department of Finance Brian Hayes has said that the Government is working hard to ensure a number of those assets still held by the Quinn family will be returned to their “legitimate owners”.

In particular, the Government wants two properties in Eastern Europe transferred back to the IBRC. Hayes said that Ukranian authorities have been helpful in attempts to resolve the matter. “The issue relates to two properties that Mr Quinn purchased on the back of loans from the Anglo Irish Bank,” he said. “One of these properties is a very substantial shopping centre, the other is a very substantial office block.”

The value of the two assets is understood to be about €140 million to €160 million.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Hayes added, “We’re fighting – as is the IBRC – to ensure the full ownership of these is reverted to the IBRC and consequently to the Irish people.” He said the importance of these assets has been impressed upon the Minister for Finance in the Ukraine, where authorities have started an inquiry into the courts actions with regard to the properties.

Support at home

Although garnering little sympathy from taxpayers across the country, the Quinn family still has many supporters in their home county of Fermanagh.

Rodney Edwards, a local journalist with the Impartial Reporter, told RTÉ that people “from all walks of life” around Derrylin believe the business tycoon, who was seen as a local saviour, a man who created jobs and didn’t forget about where he came from, is being treated “disgracefully” by the Irish Government. Some have even suggested an ‘anti-Quinn’ agenda in the south.

Over the weekend, protesters showed their support for the family by holding demonstrations outside former Quinn facilities.

The Quinn family issued a statement describing Anglo Irish Bank as “bullies” and claiming to have been treated “like dogs”.

“My son has now been jailed for failing to do something which he cannot do, whilst five years on , no one affiliated with Anglo’s illegal practices have yet been brought to justice,” added Quinn.

Related: Government liaising with Ukrainian authorities over Quinn assets>

Yesterday: Quinn family say ‘real perpetrators’ walk free>

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