The questions that no one addresses about the Sean Quinn/Kevin Lunney case

There was a Scottish woman on television last week talking about the way in which the city of Glasgow has approached knife crime. It seems they look behind the crime to the poverty and deprivation which those guilty of knife crime come from. They then addressed these matters and apparently have had spectacular success in reducing knife crime.

It seems obvious, when you think of it. There’s usually a back-story that provides a new understanding of all sorts of awful events.  Which is why I feel uneasy about recent events on the border culminating in the horrific kidnapping and beating of   Kevin Lunney.

 By now you’ve probably heard of or even seen Lunney’s description of his kidnapping from the laneway of his own home, how he tried to escape, how his captors smashed his leg and did other vile things to him. Lunney himself came across as a civilized, gentle man. You could tell that he was educated and thoughtful, as well as a victim of savagery.

What makes me uneasy and why I’d like to know more about the case is this: what was the motivation behind this attack and others less life-threatening? I know next to nothing about economics but I gather that when Sean Quinn’s massive business operation went to the wall,  a number of his former managers then worked with those who took over what was left of Quinn’s empire. They salvaged what could be salvaged and gave employment to a relatively small number of local people.

Fair enough. But two things plague me: why did Quinn’s empire collapse? What do we make of these signs that accuse Kevin Lunney and others of six-figure salaries as against the zero income for Sean Quinn? Are these figures correct? Is Sean Quinn receiving zero salary? Should he be receiving any salary?

When Quinn was at the height of his financial powers, one thing that all documentaries stressed was the low-key life-style that this enormously wealthy man adopted. In other words, he was one of the people. And he provided employment for thousands of the people in his locality and beyond. He went bust when the Anglo-Irish bank issued illegal loans to him and others, shortly before the bank’s collapse.

Quinn’s company was then taken over by American investors,  who appointed Kevin Lunney and others to run what was left of Quinn’s holdings.

Which brings us back  to the violence. Clearly there are people who don’t like what Kevin Lunney and presumably the American firms that employ him and others are doing. There’s a suggestion that these firms are seen as vultures coming in to pick clean the bones of a local man who made good. And they feel so strongly they’re prepared to engage in violence, even lethal violence, to express their anger.

When the IRA was active, there were several charges by politicians and pundits that the people in the communities from which the IRA came were frightened to inform the authorities, and that the IRA was effectively holding the community as hostage. On the ground, people told a different story. It was that the majority of people, implicitly or explicitly, supported the IRA campaign. As Mao said, the guerrilla swims in the water of the people.

We are told that people on the ground in Fermanagh are afraid to speak out against the violence inflicted on Lunney.  But I also detect a hint that some in the local community are sympathetic to Sean Quinn and, by extension, to the gang who kidnapped and tortured Kevin Lunney. Some of Lunney’s colleagues have alleged that Sean Quinn’s reaction to the violence has been ambivalent.

So where is the investigative journalist who will seek the answer to three questions:

  1. Whose fault was it that Sean Quinn went bust – his own? The Anglo-Irish Bank?
  2. Are the American firms which have taken over making money from picking through the bones of what is left? Or are they salvaging a number of jobs for locals?
  3. Do local people see Kevin Lunney and the other directors as decent men attacked by savages, or do some have such sympathy for Sean Quinn they look on any action, even this barbarism, as somehow justified?

It’s important to tell the truth, and the truth of Kevin Lunney’s kidnapping and torture is certainly a grim truth. But it’s even more important to tell the whole truth. My experience is that  people who tell the whole truth are often not very popular.

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