Thursday, 7 November 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
The actions of small groups of criminals cannot be used as an excuse to insult or demonise people who live and work in the Border region.
My colleagues, Deputies Ó Caoláin and Martin Kenny, Michelle Gildernew and other Sinn Féin representatives met representatives of the Quinn group last Friday and relayed the message to them that local people in those communities are appalled at and disgusted by the recent attacks on Kevin Lunney and the threats to the company's directors. I am sure Members will agree that anybody who watched the interview with Kevin Lunney on the BBC "Spotlight" programme earlier this week could not be unmoved by his testimony and bravery, and would have been appalled at and revulsed by the brutal attack he underwent. Everybody should be free to go about their business without threats or intimidation, no matter where or for whom they work. This matter must be tackled urgently. It is a serious criminal issue, as well as being of serious economic concern to communities in the Border region.
As Deputies are aware, the Quinn group directly employs 850 workers and indirectly supports up to 2,500 employees on both sides of the Border. This morning, the Quinn group issued a statement that unless the threats are stopped, the owners will be forced to reassess their approach to their investment in the company. If they were to pull out, it would have a serious detrimental effect on those who work directly or indirectly for the group and be a blow to the entire region and its economic fortunes. Now is the time to act with the requisite urgency, put these criminals out of business and ensure the full rigours of the law come down upon them.
We are told that the Garda is making progress in its investigations but, thus far, there have been no arrests. The required mechanism for cross-Border policing co-operation to bring those responsible to justice is already in place. Is this an issue of resourcing that mechanism? Last Tuesday, the Taoiseach accepted there is a need for additional Garda resources in the region. That analysis is correct. That being the case, what will the Government do about this? What additional resources will it ensure are allocated to the investigation and the wider Border region to support communities which wish to ensure that activities such as the attack on Kevin Lunney and the threats to the directors, as well as many other criminal activities, are prevented and that crimes committed are detected and those responsible arrested and brought to face the full rigours of the law?