herald

Thursday 18 January 2018

Gardai fear RIRA behind arson on Quinn chief's car

GARDAI believe the Real IRA may be behind a terror campaign against the Quinn Group.

The latest incident in the campaign was an arson attack on the Co Meath home of the new chief executive of the group, Paul O'Brien.

Dad-of-three Mr O'Brien and his family were not in the property in Ratoath, Co Meath, when his car, home and a neighbour's house were targeted at around 11pm on Monday.

It has now emerged that the "strongest theory" that gardai are working on is that the attack in the plush estate was carried out by dissident Republicans.



campaign

"This is one of a number of lines of enquiry. It was a well-planned attack and the property must have been under surveillance for some time.

"Because of his work with the Quinn Group, Mr O'Brien has been subjected to death threats, including malicious letters, and there had been a private security detail at his home.

"However, this had not been in place earlier this week because he had been on holiday with his family. In fact, his private security detail had been withdrawn last month.

"It is not considered a coincidence that the property was targeted just days after security was withdrawn from it. This was a very serious incident."

Although there was no security presence at his home on Monday night, the events were caught on CCTV.

Gardai are now working closely with the PSNI in relation to the attack.

The arson was the just the latest attack in a campaign which started after Anglo Irish Bank took control of much of the business empire of former tycoon Sean Quinn in April.

The campaign has caused up to €1m worth of damage with other incidents linked to it including a massive arson attack in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan where a number of vehicles at a tarmac plant were destroyed as well as an attack at a cement factory in Co Fermanagh.

Mr Quinn has previously called for the attacks to stop.

Yesterday he said: "I wish to state in the most categoric terms that I have no knowledge whatsoever of any unlawful acts in relation to individuals or property associated with the Quinn Group other than what I have read in the media."

In a statement after the arson attack, the Quinn Group said: "The incidents began almost immediately after the appointment of a share receiver to the group last April and the removal of Sean Quinn as chairman.



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"All of the incidents which have taken place since April are clearly aimed at destabilising the group's businesses and putting the livelihoods of thousands of Quinn workers at risk."

Mr O'Brien was appointed as chief executive after Anglo Irish Bank controversially stripped Mr Quinn of his mighty cross-border business empire.

The bank seized the tycoon's prized Quinn Group as it chased €5bn of family and company debts caused mainly by catastrophic share deals.

Mr O' Brien said: "As the events of Monday have shown, it is escalating to a very dangerous level where somebody has the potential to be killed."

hnews@herald.ie

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