Northern Ireland

Kevin Lunney abduction reminder of paramilitary past, says Simon Coveney

Kevin Lunney Image copyright QIH
Image caption Kevin Lunney is the chief operating officer at Quinn Industrial Holdings

Ireland's deputy prime minister has compared an attack on a County Fermanagh businessman to "paramilitary-style punishment beatings of the past".

Kevin Lunney, a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings, was abducted and badly beaten by a gang of four masked men who took him over the Irish border.

Tánaiste (Irish deputy PM) Simon Coveney said there would be a robust cross-border response from police.

The firm's founder, Seán Quinn, said his family was outraged by the attack.

Mr Quinn, who was once Ireland's richest man, added that although his family had nothing to do with it they now feared they would be blamed and "take the flack".

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Media captionSupt Clive Beatty said: "His injuries are severe and savage."

He made the comments in an interview on Northern Sound's The Joe Finnegan Show.

The former billionaire has repeatedly condemned a string of attacks on workers involved in his former companies, including Quinn Industrial Holdings.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Sean Quinn, who was once Ireland's richest man, said the attack on Kevin Lunney would be blamed on the Quinn family

Mr Lunney, 50, was driving from work to his home in Kinawley when he was abducted at 18:40 BST on Tuesday.

'Life-changing injuries'

At 21:00, he was found badly injured on a roadside across the border in County Cavan, 22 miles (35km) from when he was abducted.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said Mr Lunney has sustained severe and "life-changing injuries".

The attack was condemned by Mr Coveney in the Dáil (Irish Parliament) on Thursday.

Mr Coveney said an innocent person had been pulled from his car by a gang of masked men who beat him and left him in a ditch.

He said the incident was reminiscent of "gangland paramilitary-style punishment beatings of the past", which were carried out to intimidate people.

Image copyright John McVitty/Impartial Reporter
Image caption A burnt out BMW believed to be the one used by Kevin Lunney's attackers

Two of Northern Ireland's main trade bodies, the Mineral Products Association NI and Manufacturing NI, have condemned the attack and asked to meet PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne.

Manufacturing NI chief executive Stephen Kelly said the "unwarranted assault" was "also an attack on the 830 employees at Quinns... and the entire manufacturing industry across Ireland".

'Family are outraged'

Quinn Industrial Holdings was founded by Seán Quinn but the company later collapsed and was bought over by businessmen backed by three investment funds.

Image copyright John McVitty/Impartial Reporter
Image caption A vehicle believed to be Kevin Lunney’s Toyota Land Cruiser

Mr Quinn was employed by a consultant at his former company but left that role in 2016.

He later said he had been forced out and his family had been "stabbed in the back".

Speaking to Northern Sound after the attack on Mr Lunney, he said: "Anybody with any sense of any morals would, of course, condemn that."

"There is no other way around it, and my family has been on and they are outraged as well. And they have been onto me that we are going to take the flack for this and that we are going to be blamed for this."

'Severe and savage beating'

He added: "These guys pushed me out, they sacked me, three-and-a-half years ago, and I have had no correspondence, or no dealings, no arguments, no fights or anything with them since."

Detectives on both sides of the Irish border are investigating the attack.

PSNI Supt Clive Beatty said: "His injuries are severe and savage. Although not life-threatening, they will definitely be life-changing.

"Four masked men appeared, smashed the windows of Mr Lunney's vehicle, forcibly removed him from the vehicle and bundled him into the boot of a black Audi saloon and drove him away from his home."

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