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Quinn Insurance goes into administration

Tycoon Sean Quinn has accepted the Irish Financial Regulator's decision to put his beleaguered insurance division in permanent administration.

The High Court in Dublin was told Quinn Insurance would be run by two outside managers with the aim of protecting jobs and putting the business back on a sure financial footing.

In a hastily arranged sitting at the Four Courts, president of the High Court Nicholas Kearns said he believed the administrators were aware of the concerns of employees.

"It was important to stress that it is part of the stated function of the administrators to carry it (Quinn Insurance) on as a going concern with a view to placing it on a sound commercial footing," the judge said.

"No employment contract is determined by the appointment."

The sudden decision by Quinn to give up the fight against administration came less than 24 hours after regulator Matthew Elderfield said he would lift the sanction if Quinn could come up with the money.

The group had claimed it only needed €150m to get back to required solvency levels to cover an influx of claims.

Quinn Insurance employs 2,800 workers, while the wider group has about another 2,700 in the multinational's cement, quarry, glass and property businesses.

Staff, who staged a series of rallies since the regulator moved in two weeks ago, made a complete U-turn after the court hearing and said they were in favour of administration.

"We believe that, for all of us as employees, it is vitally important that we give our full support to the administrative process in order that the business and jobs at Quinn remain viable," they said.

"We believe the immediate concern for the administrator is to impress on the regulator the importance of the Northern Ireland and UK business."

The regulator's move has stopped the firm writing new business in the UK but Mr Elderfield insisted the 1.3 million policy holders would not be disrupted in any way.

Employees have also claimed the sanction was also losing the business €1.5m every day.

A demonstration by hundreds of staff at the regulator's offices in central Dublin tomorrow has been cancelled.

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A representative of the workers revealed that, instead, a petition with 15,000 signatures would be handed in to Mr Elderfield's office along with an invitation to meet staff to discuss the status of a business plan to reopen the UK business.

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