herald

Saturday 16 November 2019

FG minister slammed after claiming senior gardai 'had let Quinn directors down'

Kevin Lunney, who was abducted and tortured
Kevin Lunney, who was abducted and tortured

Fine Gael minister Michael D'Arcy is facing criticism over claims he made that senior gardai in the border region had failed the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH).

Speaking in relation to attacks and intimidation of the directors, including the abduction and violent attack on Kevin Lunney, he said the matters should have been dealt with sooner and better.

"What happened was an outrage. It was hideous the treatment of Kevin Lunney and it should have been dealt with sooner and better at that level," he said, adding that the Taoiseach, the Justice Minister and Garda Commissioner should not have to get involved "on every occasion".

"There are senior gardai in those divisions, in those areas, who let those gentlemen down," he said on RTE's The Week In Politics.

Fianna Fail Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith, who was also appearing on the programme, claimed gardai in the region were not augmented by resources from national units to deal with the situation.

Mr Smith is putting forward legislation to establish a new cross-border crime agency to investigate organised crime including intimidation, smuggling and human trafficking.

Mr D'Arcy said he did not believe it was a matter of resources, and added that there's never been a higher justice budget in the history of the State.

He said the Government will look at the legislation but cautioned it should not replicate agencies like the Criminal Assets Bureau, and pointed out there is already cross-border co-operation taking place.

"We have the gardai, we have the PSNI. The investigation is operating very well right now. We must stay with the paymaster. We need to get to the Godfather of this, whoever gave the orders for this hideous crime," he said.

"We must get those people because getting the thugs on the ground isn't enough.

"It is the persons who are giving out the orders that we want to see prosecuted, pursued and behind bars."

However, Fianna Fail justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan responded to the claims made by Mr D'Arcy, saying it was "bizarre to say the least" that he should try to pass the buck on to gardai on the ground in Cavan for the ongoing campaign of intimidation and violence against QIH.

"His comments are totally unhelpful and only serve to make a bad situation worse," he said.

"They also show a complete disregard to the fact that it is the Government's responsibility, and in particular the remit of the Justice Minister, to ensure that all garda divisions are adequately staffed and resourced with cars, equipment and technology, to prevent such intimidatory campaigns from taking hold."

Barbaric

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met the five directors of QIH yesterday, saying he sought the meeting in order to thank them for their courage, determination and commitment to a company that creates so much employment and economic activity in a region that needs it.

"In particular, I wanted to thank Kevin Lunney for the resilience he has shown following his barbaric abduction, assault and torture," he said.

"I assured them that their own security, that of their employees, and law and order in the border region is treated with the utmost seriousness at the top of Government."

A garda spokesperson said it does not comment on remarks by third parties, but added that during several media briefings recently, Commissioner Drew Harris has said he was "happy with the progress being made in the garda investigation".

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