Saturday 23 September 2017

Norbert Quinn

Colourful character who was an aide to beef baron Larry Goodman, and generous benefactor to Dundalk FC

NORBERT Quinn, who died at his home near Dundalk, Co Louth, last Monday at the age of 66, was a colourful local character and a generous benefactor of Dundalk Football Club who gained much unwanted notoriety during the various investigations into the Irish beef industry during the late Eighties and Nineties.

An aide of 'Beef Baron' Larry Goodman, 'Nobby' Quinn, as he was known far and wide, ran Classic Meats which had plants in Dundalk, Co Louth, Cahir, Co Tipperary and Longford.

Although Larry Goodman went on to become a central figure in the World In Action television investigation into the beef industry, various Dail debates and court cases, 'Nobby' Quinn could be described as the leading 'character actor' in the drama of the time.

He was prosecuted after Fraud Squad detectives intercepted counterfeit stamps purporting to be from the South African Customs Service on their way to a meat plant he ran in Cahir, Co Tipperary.

"The only purpose of these stamps is to enable documents to be falsely stamped in order to convey the impression that meat had been received in South Africa, thereby qualifying that meat -- on a totally illegal basis -- for EC subsidies," the then Labour Party leader, Dick Spring, told the Dail in May 1991, days after the World In Action exposes of the Irish beef trade presented by Susan O'Keefe.

"This was known to the department and the minister -- there is no way it could have been hidden from them since it featured to a minor extent in the prosecution of one Mr Nobby Quinn -- and it makes the department's enthusiasm for Mr Goodman all the harder to understand."

Mr Quinn was arraigned on two charges -- intent to defraud and falsification of documents -- and he was eventually given a two-year suspended sentence on the falsification charge.

"Now he [Nobby Quinn] remerges in the guise of Classic Meats -- a problem that the Minister for Industry and Commerce still has not disposed of. We found out through the Fair Trade Commission inquiry that, of course, Mr Goodman controls Classic Meats despite the denials," Pat Rabbitte TD told the Dail in the same debate.

'Nobby' Quinn later featured in a court case taken by another 'meat baron', Pascal Phelan, against his old mentor Larry Goodman in 2001.

Writing in the Irish Independent, Miriam Lord described it as akin to an episode of the then popular soap opera Dallas as "a racy saga of intrigue and feuds, money and glamour, fiddles and frauds, lawyers and offal, conspiracy and cows".

Phelan sued Goodman, claiming he was part of a conspiracy to remove him, Mr Phelan, from his business and the meat industry.

In evidence he said that he was put in charge of a 'boning operation' at one of the Goodman meat plants. "While he did very well for the business, things went bad when a friend called Nobby Quinn was employed over his head in the division. With Nobby at the helm, profits rocketed so much that Pascal feared they could not have been earned legitimately. He investigated and found the 'miracle' had been achieved through 'gross and serious irregularities'," according to reports of the case. "He alerted his boss, told him what he had found and Larry [Goodman] allegedly said: 'Pascal, are you telling me that you want to leave?'"

'Nobby' Quinn was a well known figure in the beef industry both in Ireland and abroad. Last week old friends from as far away as Malta paid tribute to him as a good man to work with. He was also known as a colourful local character in the town of Dundalk. He was a director, investor and generous benefactor to the local soccer club Dundalk FC, and last week supporters paid tribute to his "dedicated years of service" to that particular cause.

He was also a keen golfer and sponsor of competitions at his local club.

He is survived by his wife Kathleen and his four sons.

Sunday Independent

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