Quinn at­tacks could re­sult in tragedy

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - By de rb hail mcdon­ald, I nm group busi­ness edi­tor @dearb­haildibs

Had the wind been blow­ing in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion af­ter ar­son­ists set Dara O’reilly’s car alight, you could have been read­ing about the mur­ders of an en­tire fam­ily in­stead of yet an­other near-miss at­tack on a busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive work­ing for Quinn In­dus­trial Hold­ings (QIH).

O’reilly, the chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of QIH, was up­stairs in his home with his wife and two chil­dren when ar­son­ists at­tacked his prop­erty in But­lers­bridge, Co Ca­van.

His life and that of his fam­ily were saved by favourable winds and the quick ac­tions of the emer- gency ser­vices. O’reilly, a for­mer se­nior lieu­tenant in the once pow­er­ful Quinn Group founded by the ex-bil­lion­aire Sean Quinn, is not alone.

There have been more than 70 at­tacks on the Fer­managh- Ca­van bor­der since 2011, when the Quinn Group was placed into share re­ceiver­ship by the now de­funct An­glo Ir­ish Bank.

And there have been more than 20 at­tacks in the last three years tar­get­ing the se­nior man­age­ment run­ning com­pa­nies formerly owned by Sean Quinn Snr.

For his part, Sean Quinn Snr, who was jailed for nine weeks for con­tempt of court in 2012 — he and his son Sean Jr, were im­pris­oned for their part in con­tin­u­ing to put as­sets be­yond the reach of the IBRC — has wept vo­cif­er­ous tears and cried foul that he hasn’t been able to re­gain con­trol of his once pri­vate em­pire.

He has done so whilst pub­licly con­demn­ing at­tacks, al­legedly per­pe­trated by a ‘ lu­natic fringe’ of Quinn sup­port­ers who want to see him re­turned to his pur­ported right­ful place.

The mount­ing spate of ar­son in­ci­dents is truly ter­ri­fy­ing and un­prece­dented in Ir­ish cor­po­rate life.

In one in­ci­dent, the tyre fac­tory of a QIH se­nior man­ager was gut­ted af­ter be­ing set alight. The at­tack on the fac­tory came hours af­ter an up­date to QIH staff in which QIH con­demned in­tim­i­da­tion of its man­agers and staff.

And last Tues­day night, the life and prop­erty of Tony Lun­ney, an­other se­nior man­ager at QIH, was jeop­ar­dised when a car be­long­ing to Lun­ney’s daugh­ter was set alight.

The ‘ lesser’ in­tim­ida­tory at­tacks on QIH’S own­ers, of­fi­cers, staff and their fam­i­lies, bear all the hall­marks of paramil­i­tarism that blighted the bor­der — and be­yond — dur­ing the worst years of the Trou­bles.

They are too nu­mer­ous to men­tion, but they in­clude the dis­play of signs crit­i­cis­ing se­nior man­age­ment and their salaries — one sign refers to a ‘Stolen Em­pire’ — as well as egre­gious abuses and false al­le­ga­tions spread on so­cial me­dia.

When a group of Ir­ish in­vestors backed by three US hedge funds bought Quinn group oper­a­tions in Ca­van and Fer­managh in 2014, it was widely be­lieved that this would her­ald the path­way to the for­mer bil­lion­aire’s even­tual own­er­ship of QIH.

The in­stal­ment of for­mer Quinn Group di­rec­tors such as O’reilly and Mccaf­frey au­gured well that this might be the out­come.

But Quinn Snr, hired as a €500,000 a year con­sul­tant with QIH — which in­sisted that Quinn Snr could not have a man­age­ment role or own­er­ship stake — parted ways two years ago.

Last Au­gust Quinn Snr com­plained bit­terly again at a pub­lic meet­ing that he had been treated de­plorably, in­sist­ing he was the best man to ‘sort out’ QIH, lament­ing that ef­forts to se­cure his busi­ness back had been thwarted at ev­ery turn.

Quinn Snr moved on, but the at­tacks against QIH di­rec­tors not only con­tin­ued but in­ten­si­fied, cul­mi­nat­ing in the re­cent spate of ar­son at­tacks di­rected against some of his for­mer clos­est col- leagues. As with many ac­tiv­i­ties on the bor­der, gar­dai and PSNI have been met with a stun­ning omerta and an in­con­ceiv­able im­punity on the part of the per­pe­tra­tors.

In the wake of the lat­est at­tack, QIH chief ex­ec­u­tive Liam Mccaf­frey — one of the most se­nior play­ers in the for­mer Quinn Group — lamented the threats to the lives and well­be­ing of staff on both sides of the bor­der.

It is tempt­ing to dis­miss the lat­est it­er­a­tion of ‘ The Quinn Saga,’ re­plete with movie grade tales of stolen as­sets, miss­ing rent rolls and multi-bil­lion bets on the prop­erty and bank­ing sec­tors, as an­other Ban­dit Coun­try style tale of law­less­ness and thwarted loy­al­ties.

But can you imag­ine any other Ir­ish or Ir­ish-based com­pany with in­ter­na­tional in­vestors — and em­ploy­ing al­most 1,000 work­ers — that could be sub­jected to such hos­til­i­ties and a seem­ing col­lapse in the rule of law?

Liam Mccaf­frey’s chilling but not en­tirely im­prob­a­ble pre­dic­tion that lives will be lost, can­not be al­lowed to pass.

We have been warned.

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