Wednesday 16 October 2019

'Utterly abhorrent' - Local priest condemns Kevin Lunney attack

Fr Oliver O'Reilly also called on gardai to allocate more resources to the area

Kevin Lunney (Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA)
Kevin Lunney (Quinn Industrial Holdings/PA)

Niamh Lynch

A Cavan priest has condemned the recent assault of Kevin Lunney, a director at Quinn Industrial Holdings, as “utterly abhorrent” and called on the gardai to allocate more resources to the area.

Speaking to the Sunday with Miriam show on RTÉ Radio 1, Fr Oliver O’Reilly, a priest at the Our Lady of Lourdes church in Ballyconnell, said: “The savagery of this incident was unbelievable; I never thought I would witness this in this area.

“The main reason I spoke out was my fear of loss of life and livelihoods in this region,” he said.

“Unless we face the elephant in the room, I think this will continue and I am fearful that next time round people will be killed or murdered - I would feel so guilty if I hadn’t at least given this warning.”

Referring to the violent campaign of intimidation against the directors at the company, Fr O’Reilly called it a “cancerous evil” that “we have to exercise before it destroys everything that’s good in this region”.

Fr O’Reilly also revealed that he has spoken to Mr Lunney’s family in the wake of the attack, saying “it woke me up to what these people are going through”.

“This good man and his colleagues need support. They’re the most decent men you could meet in the world and they’re people of great integrity.”

Fr O’Reilly continued: “They have lived under a cloud of constant harassment and intimidation for the last five years and I really fear for their lives.”

“I guarantee that if they step aside, no one else will fill their shoes.”

“I admire the courage of the people that are carrying on their lives as best they can and I am disgusted with those that threaten others,” he said.

Fr O’Reilly also called on gardai to allocate more resources to the area “so that this scourge can be removed from our midst”.

Fr O’Reilly condemned the attack in homilies given in the parish yesterday evening and this morning.

Mr Lunney, a father-of-six, was abducted in broad daylight outside his home in Fermanagh and driven in the boot of a car to an animal container in Cavan, where his face was slashed during a beating in which his leg was also broken in two places.

Before dumping Mr Lunney on a roadside in Cornafean, Co. Cavan, the gang warned him that he and the other directors would be shot if they did not resign from the company.

The attack is a major escalation of years-long violence against directors of the company that was once owned by businessman Sean Quinn.

The Sunday Independent reports that gardai believe they have identified the gang that carried out the attack as criminals based in Cavan and the Midlands, but do not know who the suspected mastermind is.

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