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Parish priest challenges those behind abduction of Kevin Lunney

By Sarah Mac Donald - 29 September, 2019

Fr Oliver O’Reilly of Ballyconnell warned that, “There is an obvious cancer of evil in our midst that needs to be exorcised before someone is murdered.”

A second priest has called out the vicious attack on Quinn group executive Kevin Lunney, describing it as a modern form of crucifixion carried out by a Mafia-style group with its own godfather.

In his homily for Saturday evening Mass in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, parish priest Fr Oliver O’Reilly likened the torture meted out to 50-year-old Mr Lunney to the terrorism perpetrated by Islamic State.

His strongly worded homily will be repeated at Sunday Masses today in Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Ballyconnell and in St Dallan’s in Kidallan, where Fr O’Reilly is also parish priest.

On Saturday evening in Ballyconnell, Fr O’Reilly said Mr Lunney had been subjected to a “modern form of crucifixion deployed by terrorist groups such as Islamic State”. He described the attack, which he claimed was done by hired savage thugs, as “barbaric”.

Fr O’Reilly said he believes this campaign of violent intimidation is being financed by a paymaster or paymasters that have become so consumed with hatred they have lost their moral compass.

“[There is] an obvious cancer of evil in our midst that needs to be exorcised before someone is murdered… The vast majority of peace-loving law-abiding people of the area are being held to ransom by a few unscrupulous individuals who are hugely dangerous,” he said.

Mr Lunney, chief executive of Quinn Industries Holdings (QIH), was abducted on Tuesday evening on his way home from work. He was held in a horsebox-like structure while he was beaten and tortured. One of his legs was broken in two places, and he suffered other severe but non-life-threatening injuries when his face was slashed with a Stanley-type knife. The perpetrators poured bleach over his wounds.

When his kidnappers finally released him, Mr Lunney was dumped in a roadside ditch where he lay for two hours before being discovered by a passing farmer.

According Fr O’Reilly, what happened to Mr Lunney was a well-planned and well-organised abduction. “[It] could only have happened when some person with ulterior motives agreed to pay these criminals a sum of money and gave instructions on what he required to be done to an unsuspecting victim.”

“This senseless atrocity follows years of threats, abuse, lies and various forms of violent intimidation, against the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings,” he said.

“Maybe some people in our region need to examine their consciences about their angry rants at public meetings and defamatory statements on one or more social media sites,” the priest challenged.

“They need to face the truth that their diatribes added to that climate of intimidation and incited hatred leading up to this dark deed. Let them now take responsibility for their actions and learn lessons.”

Fr O’Reilly told parishioners the “long reign of terror” now threatens the lives and livelihoods of everybody living in the Cavan, Fermanagh and Leitrim border region. He challenged what he called the false narrative promoted by a “small group of people in our midst” that the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings are usurpers.

On the contrary, they are “quality leaders who courageously took on the management of this company at a time of crisis”, he said.

Last weekend, the torture of the Co Fermanagh businessman was also condemned by the parish priest of Derrylin, where the abduction took place.

In his homily, Fr Gerard Alwill said, “There is no way that I could face into celebrating the weekend Masses in the parish and, at the same time, avoid speaking about what has happened here over the last week.”

In the tight-knit border community where he serves, Fr Alwill admitted, “I have only been here two years and it’s true that I don’t know all the ins-and-outs of the issues that have led up to the current situation.”

“Not only does this barbaric act run contrary to our Christian values, but it also runs totally against our own natural human values. What happened was totally abhorrent to all decent people.”

The attack on Mr Lunney was described last Sunday as “sickening” by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin who condemned the perpetrators as “animals”.

Speaking at Bonnybrook parish in Dublin, Archbishop Martin said the omertà and intimidation would only be broken by people in the local area working with the police.

“What happened there is just appalling. I am just astonished by the level of violence. People have to have the courage to break the silence and let what is known be known – that will help,” he said.

“You have to ask what sort of animals would do that?” Archbishop Martin said.

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