Former billionaire Sean Quinn said he believes he received “rough justice” when he lost control of his empire in the third and final part of RTÉ’s documentary series, Quinn Country, which aired earlier this evening.
nd he denied anything to do with the 2019 abduction and torture of Kevin Lunney, a former associate of Mr Quinn who became chief operations officer at Quinn Industrial Holdings, saying: “Absolutely nothing, why would I bother me head with Kevin Lunney?”
But he added: “One thing I think that somebody should ask Kevin Lunney…why was he attacked?”
By early 2011, Mr Quinn was €3.6bn in debt. He owed €2.4bn to the taxpayer in the form of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) for loans he took out for Anglo Irish Bank shares. He owed a further €1.2bn to American bondholders.
The Quinn empire was on the line and in April of 2011, the State sent a team north of the border from Dublin to take control of Mr Quinn’s businesses.
The third part Quinn Country focused on the period of attacks that began in the days after the business was taken over and in the following years to try to prevent the administrators from selling off the Quinn businesses.
“When you set the tone for war, when you set the tone to go in and use those heavy hands and put on security people all around the place, up the mountain, 100 people to make sure that everything was okay, in a place that was so peaceful,” Mr Quinn said.
“We had come through from 1973 to 2000 and there was trouble in the North and people being shot and killed right, left and centre, and the Quinn Group worked their way through all of that, and never had any trouble.
“And for them to come in and do what they did, I think it was absolutely disgraceful and I’ll believe that until the last day I take a breath.”
On April 14, 2011, the receivers secured the buildings of Quinn’s businesses in Ireland.
Former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes said: “For us, this was the beginning of the next stage of the process. We had finally got to a position where we thought we could actually control what was going to happen to the group of companies. As time went by, we found that that was more and more problematic.”
Later that year, a video emerged of Sean Quinn Jnr and his cousin Peter Quinn allegedly showing them trying to secure assets in Ukraine.
In 2012, both men were sentenced to three months in jail for contempt after trying to hide a €500m property portfolio from the former Anglo Irish Bank.
Sean Quinn Snr was then sentenced to nine weeks in Mountjoy Prison for contempt of court.
“The whole story turned to the Quinns stealing taxpayer’s assets. We just gave them an ideal opportunity to kill us, and they did. Everything [that] was put together for 36/37 years, it was all gone,” Mr Quinn said.
“We took on something we should never have taken on, we took on an institution, we took on a government and all strands of it and it was stupid.”
Mr Quinn’s sister, Bernie Maguire, said she never felt any “shame” for her brother or nephew’s term in jail.
“The rural, culchie man in the border area was an easy target. It almost seemed as if he was the fall-guy, they made it seem as if he was the cause of the recession in Ireland,” she said.
“Even though the banks were broken, the Government was broken, there was a whole lot, and they just couldn’t fathom that people were so loyal to him down here.”
Mr Quinn said that on the night of his incarceration, he went to a bar with friends and had “two pints of beer and two or three double brandies” and “headed straight for the white van and into Mountjoy… I was drunk” .
“What I’m saying is, they knew at the time that those loans were illegal. And everybody allowed this €2.3bn to be loaned illegally. So, where do the Irish Government sit in all of this?” he said.
“We, the Government, we regulate the banks, and we allowed this guy to do this, so, I think they were caught in the headlights. Well, the only thing we can do with him now is kill him off, take it all off him, and dead men don’t talk.
“We’ll throw the kitchen sink at him for the next two or three years and we’ll bury him, and they came close to it.”
With new owners in charge of the Quinn Group, by then known as the Aventas Group, the campaign of intimidation began to intensify.
Mr Quinn condemned the attacks of intimidation and violence and said he had “no hand, act or part in any attack”.
“Certainly, the heavy-handed approach by an Irish Government selected by the people, to go in with that heavy hand into a rural area who had done nothing but good in that area and take it over and destroy it, it was criminal,” he said.
“And of course, it was going to raise tensions and of course things were going to happen and did happen. Was I part of it? Absolutely not.
“Was it done because of my anger? Was it done because I was telling the truth about what the position was? Maybe.
“But was I involved in planning it, absolutely not.
“The whole attacks that happened, people were pointing the fingers at me, I had no hand, act or part in any attack.”
In 2019, a dispute between the five adult Quinn children – Aoife, Brenda, Ciara, Colette and Sean Jnr – and the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) was settled after they consented to having judgments totaling €440m entered against them.
“We felt very strongly that the assets that Anglo were taking from us in Russia and Ukraine, they didn’t finance them, and we felt that we had every right to move them,” Mr Quinn said.
“Of course, we know that was a major mistake and we shouldn’t have, and the court found that we had no right to move them even though we felt that we owned them, the court didn’t see it that way.”
When asked if he knew Cyril McGuinness, Mr Quinn said: “I knew him yeah, everyone knew Dublin Jimmy. In fact, he didn’t like being called Dublin Jimmy. I was never talking to him.
Cyril McGuinness (55) orchestrated the abduction of Mr Lunney in September 2019. Mr Lunney is a member of the new management team of the company which is now called Mannok.
McGuiness died after collapsing at a property where he was staying during a police raid in Buxton, Derbyshire, UK, on November 8, 2019.
He is believed to have arranged the logistics and directed the gang who abducted and tortured Mr Lunney after he was kidnapped outside his home in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, on September 17, 2019.
Mr Lunney was bundled into the boot of a car and driven to a horsebox in a yard at Drumbrade, Co Cavan, where his captors ordered him to resign, beat and slashed him, broke his leg with a wooden post, carved the company initials QIH into his chest with a Stanley knife and doused him in bleach in an apparent attempt to hide forensic evidence.
Mr Lunney was left in his boxer shorts, covered in blood on a roadside in Drumcoghill, Co Cavan, where he crawled to safety and flagged down a passing tractor.
Three men have been jailed for the abduction and torture of Mr Lunney. They were handed down sentences ranging from 15 to 25 years.
When asked if he had anything to do with the attack on Mr Lunney, Mr Quinn said: “Absolutely nothing, why would I bother me head with Kevin Lunney?” Just think about why would I bother me head with Kevin Lunney.
“One thing I think that somebody should ask Kevin Lunney…why was he attacked?
“What they have done over the last six or seven years and the level of betrayal is probably unprecedented in the history of this State.
“I have nothing good to say about Kevin Lunney.
“I don’t think that anybody, regardless of how they’re annoyed, should have stooped to the level of what they did to Kevin Lunney, that should never have happened. Human beings don’t do that to each other.”
Mr Quinn ended the documentary with the following comment: “All that I can say is, in my 75 years, I never knowingly took anything that didn’t belong to me, never.
“I think my legacy will be that I built up a great company, I employed a lot of people in a very poor area, I was an honest man, and that the area will be more successful because of Sean Quinn than it would be without him, and that he got rough justice.”
Quinn Country is available to stream on RTÉ Player.