Sunday 20 April 2014

Quinn jailing was a good day for justice

THE jailing of Sean Quinn will go down in modern Irish history as one of the most dramatic and tragic events sealing the demise of the Celtic Tiger.

One of the country's most successful entrepreneurs, our former richest man, Quinn -- like his son Sean Jnr before him -- has been reduced to a common prisoner. It is impossible not to feel sympathy on a human level for him and his wife Patricia.

But as High Court judge Elizabeth Dunne, the woman who jailed him, observed: if the various legal dramas have negatively consumed his life and that of his wider family, he has only himself to blame.

In her ruling, Ms Justice Dunne, like many citizens still do, acknowledged the enormous contribution Quinn has made to the economy, especially in the perennially jobs-starved border regions of Cavan and Fermanagh.

But she said that she could not ignore the serious breaches of court orders not to move or dissipate up to €500m worth of overseas properties.

Ms Justice Dunne found Quinn unco-operative in the witness box. She said that it was important to ensure court orders were complied with, adding that the integrity of the court system could not be set at nought by an egregious breach of a court order. It is reassuring to know that no one is above the law.

Sentencing Quinn to nine weeks in prison, Ms Justice Dunne's ruling might appear to some as an unsatisfactory compromise.

It is an unsatisfactory compromise because the events underpinning Quinn's jail term -- the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank and with it the banking sector -- have few redeeming features.

The long-running contempt saga has not returned ownership of the Quinn family's overseas property jewels, and Finance Minister Michael Noonan's recent sanctioning of a new recovery strategy signals that this may be a virtually impossible task.

The Quinn/Anglo story does not end here, but this sad day for Sean Quinn was a good day for common justice.

Irish Independent

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