Harte and Fr D'Arcy among crowd out in support of beleaguered family
TYRONE GAA manager Mickey Harte and well-known priest Fr Brian D'Arcy last night paid tribute to Sean Quinn and his family during a major rally in the family's heartland.
Mr Quinn was feted as the man who brought growth and prosperity to a region allegedly ignored by the northern and southern governments.
And the former businessman -- once Ireland's richest man -- was honoured as a man who did not flaunt his wealth, but poured it back into the local community.
The side of a lorry was the stage for the event in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, where supporters lined part of the main street to praise the man whose name adorned buildings throughout the area.
Below a banner demanding "natural justice" for the Quinn family, Fr D'Arcy stated that it should be the regulators, auditors and banks that should be before the courts, not the Quinn family.
"The main reason I'm here is because as Christians and good neighbours we have a right and a duty to stand by our families and neighbours when they are in trouble and nobody will take that away from us," he said.
"They built an industry the like of which has never been seen in this country.
"When northern governments and southern governments wouldn't give us a penny, when not a single one of them provided a job, it was Sean Quinn and his family who took up the battle."
It was hard to estimate the numbers that turned out but well over 1,000 people snaked their way up part of the main street in Ballyconnell, bearing placards alleging that what happened to the Quinn family was an injustice.
It was easy to see why the family has such support in the area.
One woman, who did not wish to be named, said the family had brought employment to an area largely forgotten by central government.
"The area would be nothing without that family," she told the Irish Independent.
"There would be no employment here if it were not for them."
On the road from Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, to Ballyconnell, just across the border in Co Cavan, elements of the Quinn family's former empire peppered the landscape.
Quinnglass, Quinn rooftiles, Quinnpherm and Quinn Packaging were just some of the factory-style buildings bearing the family name, as well as the large, red-brick office complex of the Quinn Group.
Local businessman Padraig Donohoe said Mr Quinn was one of the greatest entrepreneurs the country had ever produced.
"We are here to fight our corner and it's going to be a hard fight," he said.
"We are here to support the Quinn family, a family who stands for everything that is good in Irishness and deep family values."