Wednesday 23 October 2019

Staff demand an end to 'reign of terror' after 'attack on us all'

Solidarity: DUP leader Arlene Foster chats with Kevin Lunney’s brother Tony at the Quinn Industrial Holdings rally in support of the injured man. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Solidarity: DUP leader Arlene Foster chats with Kevin Lunney’s brother Tony at the Quinn Industrial Holdings rally in support of the injured man. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

After a statement of support for Kevin Lunney and his family had been read out, staff from Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) remained where they were standing, trauma and revulsion still etched on their faces at the ferocity of the attack on their colleague.

"You wouldn't do it to a dog what they did to that man," said one female clerical worker, who did not wish to give her name.

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Their eyes red with grief and sleeplessness, the company executives stood chatting quietly together, accepting many handshakes of support.

After the previous assault which had broken his nose, Mr Lunney had "kept positive", a staff member revealed.

He had taken a few days off to recover. "But he didn't let it get to him," said the man.

He spoke of the perception out there that Seán Quinn Snr had been treated badly by the banks and by the Government.

"But it's just a perception," he said, showing some frustration when asked whether this attack might turn the tide of sympathy in favour of the current directors.

"It's not a case of sides," he said. "It's a case of right and wrong."

QIH staff were holding a solidarity walk for Mr Lunney and his family at the company's headquarters in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh.

It took place largely in silence, down the little dip in the road from the Quinn Quarry Office in Derrylin to Quinn Building Products Head Office up the road.

A statement on behalf of the staff was read aloud by Stephen Kelly, chief executive of manufacturing NI. He too was red-eyed and exhausted looking.

The staff called for an end to "this reign of terror", expressing their "unequivocal support" for Mr Lunney and his family and wished him "a speedy recovery from the horrific injuries that have been inflicted on him".

"Our thoughts and prayers are first and foremost with Kevin and his family at this time," said the statement.

"He is highly respected and held in high regard in our company for his hard work, commitment and dedication to the staff, the business and the local community."

The statement from the staff described the attack as "not only an attack on Kevin but on the entire staff and community".

"We ask those in our local communities to come together in solidarity to support Kevin and the Lunney family and we also plead with them to give whatever support and assistance is required to assist in bringing these perpetrators to justice," the statement said.

"We demand an end to this reign of terror, to all intimidation and attacks on management and their properties.

"We call on local politicians, the PSNI and gardaí to allocate whatever resources are necessary to bring these perpetrators to justice and to bring an end to these brutal attacks so we can feel safe in our place of work and in our local communities," the statement said.

Afterwards, Mr Lunney's brother, Tony - who also works at Quinn Industrial Holdings as production director - declined to speak to the media, saying: "I think the staff have said everything."

However, he had earlier received a round of applause as he escorted a lone beef protester off the property.

As well as around 800 staff members, there were many local people present at the walk, several with small children.

There were also a number of teenagers in black uniforms from St Aidan's High School in Derrylin, which Mr Lunney's children attend.

Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, was also present, along with Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith.

"Nothing can justify what happened here", Ms Foster said, adding: "We could concentrate on the protection side but nobody who's working should have to face to this sort of thing."

She said the community was outraged this could happen to someone who was "simply doing a day's work and trying to keep jobs here in Co Fermanagh".

As a local woman, she knows Mr Lunney, she said, describing him as "a Fermanagh man who is very much rooted in his community".

Former chair of the SDLP, Rosemary Flanagan, from Enniskillen, was also there.

"We've gone back to civil rights again. The right to live and the right to go to work in safety," she said.

Fr Gerry Comiskey, of Drumlane Parish, Co Cavan - who married Mr Lunney and his wife Bronagh some 20 years ago and remains a personal friend - said Bronagh had been left "devastated" by the attack on her husband, with whom she has six children.

He described Mr Lunney as a man with "great personal integrity and a man of faith who is hugely committed to family values and community values".

Irish Independent

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