Priest tightens security after latest threats at Quinn firm –

It hardly inspires confidence that the parish known for speaking out against this intimidation is forced to take measures for his own protection.

Fr O’Reilly delivered a searing homily last month calling out the -like “paymaster or paymasters” who funded the savage attack on Mr Lunney. In an with the Sunday Independent, he said: “The more speak, the more are at risk.”

For , he plans to back from the robust commentary he has become known for, in the hope of fostering peace. “I want to get back to my normal parish … I find that in the last month, a whole lot of have happened. I want to take a back seat for a while. But if is further intimidation, I intend to return to the fray.”

A second threat to the directors of Quinn Holdings (QIH) last week – founded and lost by the former billionaire Sean Quinn – has catapulted the - campaign of intimidation and violence into the lap of .

The threat was issued via the Irish last Monday by a man in a balaclava from a statement purporting to be a “last warning” to directors to resign or face a “permanent solution”. The directors “hadn’t learned their lesson” since the attack on Mr Lunney, the man said, chillingly noting that they could have “easily killed” him if they had wanted to.

In the same week, Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny’s was set alight outside his in Leitrim, the Garda station in Emyvale, Co Monaghan was set ablaze and two Monaghan hauliers were named as persons of interest in the into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese smuggled into the .

Garda Harris and the for Justice, Flanagan, have struggled to explain why the years-long intimidation has not been stopped.

The Sunday Independent has learnt that Taoiseach privately rang John McCartin, one of five directors of QIH under threat, twice last week saying he was “appalled” at the intimidation. That the Taoiseach should open a direct line of with the victims of this campaign indicates that the has finally dropped.

For eight years, the directors of QIH and its property have been under siege. The businesses were once owned by Sean Quinn, the local former billionaire who lost control of his in 2011. He has repeatedly denounced the attacks on the companies, saying they are not carried out in his name. According to Mr McCartin, the failure of authorities to – from Cavan County Council not taking down signs to gardai not making arrests – has “emboldened” those responsible and allowed for an escalation of violence and the creeping involvement of paramilitaries.

A photograph in the Irish News of the masked man bearing the latest death threat prompted a number of calls to the confidential lines from local people claiming to recognise him, sources said. They suspect he is a dissident , originally from Northern but now living in Cavan, who has served jail for possession of explosives. He was once prominent in the Real . A of QIH has also reported this man’s suspected to the PSNI and gardai.

The abduction and on Lunney bore the hallmarks of a paramilitary- operation. He was kidnapped, tortured and had his legs broken in an attack resembling a punishment beating. The care that his attackers took to destroy a forensic trail, viciously pouring over Mr Lunney before dumping him on a Cavan roadside, was also redolent of paramilitary thugs.

Drew Harris said last week that the investigation into the attack is making progress. Garda sources say several of the suspected members have been identified, and a van seized in Meath recently is believed to have been used by the in the attack.

But the directors of QIH struggle to see that progress. On Tuesday, the directors hold their meeting with the Garda Commissioner in Monaghan. Present be Liam McCaffrey, Dara O’Reilly, non- director John McCartin and production director Tony Lunney. Mr Lunney’s brother Kevin, the ’s chief operating , will also attend if he is well enough.

“We are preparing for the meeting with the Commissioner. We will be asking for an update on the investigation, what progress has been made and why there have been no arrests six weeks after Kevin was attacked,” Tony Lunney told the Sunday Independent.

An obvious question is whether in the vacuum of any arrests, those responsible for the intimidation felt emboldened to issue a second death threat. The paramilitary theatrics surrounding its delivery suggests an element of playing to the gallery too, and the statement even referenced newspaper about the attacks on the Quinn group.

John McCartin believes this is part of the strategy: “We have had intimidation, signs and posters going up, on and on media, physical assaults, and now torture and , and using to scare away future investors.”

The directors believe the of the campaign of violence is to run them, and the investors, out, risking more than 2,000 connected to the businesses and leaving the remnants of the group there for a buyer to pick over. The Garda investigation is building on the question cui bono? Who ultimately benefits from the directors and their investors out of town?

Sean Quinn has made no of wanting “his” company back. But he has repeatedly condemned the attack on Kevin Lunney as “barbaric”, acknowledging that his would be “blamed”. He told Channel 4 News that he no hand, act or part in the attack, and had abandoned his ambitions to return to the businesses as a result of it. In his most recent statement to RTE last week, he said: “I call on those who have advanced threats to withdraw them immediately. If they feel that they are doing it in mine or my ’s name, they are badly mistaken.”

Mr Quinn is also clearly irked at Fr O’Reilly. He called to his home two weeks ago to challenge him on his now famous homily, even though the priest did not identify anyone in it.

This weekend, Mr Quinn confirmed to the Sunday Independent that he has complained to the priest’s Kilmore Diocese. He said he met the administrator, Monsignor Liam Kelly, and has written to “ people”.

He denied threatening legal action but he didn’t rule it out either. “I made no threats to anybody,” he said, in a phone call. Asked if he is considering legal action, he replied: “Well, we are where we are…”

Asked why he wrote the letter, he said: “I’m not going there but sure any fool would know why I wrote the letter.” He accused the priest of “telling lies” from the altar. “So, it’s not hard to know, anybody with any wit would know the man was off his .”

Fr O’Reilly told the Sunday Independent this weekend that he wrote his homily in “” at the “awfulness of the inflicted injuries on Kevin Lunney”.

“It is not a good way to be writing something when you are angry,” he said. “I have to take that on board myself before asking anyone else to do that. I don’t want to vilify anyone. It never was my intention. I want to give more rational a , with the hope that these years of intimidation are now coming to an end.”

In the sitting room of his parish home in Ballyconnell, a large detached clearly visible on , Fr O’Reilly cited Nelson Mandela’s about “leaving bitterness and hatred behind”.

“The most terrible walls are the walls that grow in the . I believe that applies to this area. Walls grow in the of some people that are causing difficulty for themselves and for others. These walls are about perceived grievances, and I suppose prejudice plays a part and they become entrenched,” he said.

“We must find ways and means of helping people to take down these walls.”

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