Quinn Group chief calls for end to 'intolerable' intimidation campaign
THE new chief executive of the Quinn Group last night appealed for an end to the "intolerable" campaign of intimidation and sabotage that has been waged for the six weeks since Anglo Irish Bank took over Sean Quinn's former empire.
The comments from Quinn Group chief Paul O'Brien came as he insisted he had no plans to cut the group's 2,600-strong workforce and would instead "grow" the business.
Since Anglo took over the Quinn Group, the group's sites have been hit by a range of acts of defiance, including severed power lines and a digger obstructing the group's headquarters.
Documents seen by the Irish Independent reveal "emergency protocol" for how security guards should respond to threats to the building, including a code word to alert security forces and a "safe room" at group headquarters.
The Irish Independent has also learnt that several new executives at the Quinn Group have taken steps to protect their personal security on foot of threats and intimidation.
The threats have been notified to the PSNI and the gardai, who are also looking into several episodes of apparent sabotage at Quinn Group sites in Derrylin and Ballyconnell.
"The sabotage and intimidation is just downright intolerable, it's a disgrace and it has to stop," Mr O'Brien said last night.
"It's not going to help anybody's jobs."
Sources stressed, however, that the Quinn Group continues to operate as normal and is "making progress" with staff and its business plan and has lost no "significant" customers since the Anglo takeover six weeks ago.
"The situation was rough for a while but it's improving," one source said. "For the group, it's business as usual."
Mr O'Brien also confirmed that security guards overseeing Anglo Irish Bank's takeover of the Quinn Group were given a list of former Quinn executives "not permitted to come into the building" unescorted and told to "politely" ask them to make an appointment if they wanted to gain entry.
The instructions are detailed in a memo for security staff, seen by the Irish Independent, which also includes headshots of six of Sean Quinn's key lieutenants.
Mr O'Brien last night said it was "unfortunate" that it had found its way into the public domain.
"It was intended to facilitate security people so they could recognise the individuals concerned and ask them to make an appointment where they would be more than welcome to collect their belongings," he said.
He said the instructions "wouldn't be unusual" in a change-of-ownership situation but admitted that it "could have been handled more sensitively".
A handwritten note next to the photographs says the named executives seeking access to the building should be told to make an appointment with the new chief executive if they wished to gain entry to the building.
Mr O'Brien said he would "absolutely" be keeping the Quinn Group name in place across the manufacturing businesses since it was "a very powerful brand".
Locals fear the Anglo deal will ultimately see the Quinn Group scaled back or sold off, but Mr O'Brien insisted his aim was to "grow the business".
Plans for projects that have been on hold, including a new site in Germany, are now being reviewed.
Asked about the day-to-day input of Anglo to the running of the business he replied: "I'm left to my own devices, if I want Anglo, I know they're there to support."
One year on, Cavan is still Quinn country: Business supplement