Gardai are investigating if the savage abduction and assault of Kevin Lunney was masterminded by a criminal to set up Sean Quinn.
Senior Garda sources confirmed that the development is "one line of inquiry" that they want to "bottom out" in what investigators expect to be a prolonged and complex investigation.
Detectives believe they have identified the gang who abducted Mr Lunney, slashed him, beat him and doused him in bleach, as criminals based in Cavan and the midlands, but not the suspected mastermind.
A Garda source said they are looking at a number of suspects, including a well-known criminal who may have ordered the attack because of a grudge against former billionaire Sean Quinn.
The theory of a set-up was met with scepticism by a Quinn Industrial Holdings director, John McCartin. It is widely believed, however, that the criminals were hired by someone.
Separately, a priest in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, Fr Oliver O'Reilly, delivered a searing homily slating the "godfather" of the attack on Mr Lunney.
Fr O'Reilly described it as a modern form of "crucifixion" carried out by a mafia-style group, financed by a paymaster or paymasters consumed with hatred who have lost their moral compass.
"This well-planned and well-organised abduction could only have happened when some person with ulterior motives agreed to pay these criminals a sum of money and gave instructions on what he required to be done to an unsuspecting victim."
The priest spoke out against the "obvious cancer of evil" in our midst that "needs to be exorcised before someone is murdered".
The attack on Kevin Lunney, almost two weeks ago, was more savage than any of the previous attacks on the properties and directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings and other businesses formally owned by Sean Quinn in an eight-year campaign of intimidation and violence.