'Mercenary' | 

‘Dublin Jimmy’ who ran terror campaign to support Sean Quinn was 'working for MI5’

Author Trevor Birney details his new book ‘Quinn’ how British intelligence service MI5 were “real bosses” of Cyril McGuinness.

Sean Quinn

18/9/2019, Members of the PSNI near a laneway leading to the home of Kevin Lunney, in Kilawley, Co. Fermanagh, Mr Lunney, is an executive of Quinn Industrial holdings. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM© Damien Eagers / INM

Trevor BirneySunday World

‘Dublin Jimmy’ (aka Cyril McGuinness) was a mercenary. He had no dog in the fight for control of the Quinn business. Money was his motivation.

Rumours about who was paying him to orchestrate the attacks were rife.

But the police were never able to even disrupt his campaign, never mind bring him to justice.

One former RUC officer who knew him claimed: “McGuinness had no fear. He had a confidence about him. I didn’t recognise it at the time, but now I know it came from him knowing he was a protected species.

“No matter who was paying him, his real bosses were MI5 – they were protecting him.”

The former policeman had been stationed in Rosslea in the early 1990s.

At the time, Cyril McGuinness was living in a caravan positioned across the border. When the caravan was approached by the RUC, he would move his possessions into the Republic, and vice versa.

At one point, the officer sought to have a camera fitted outside McGuinness’s home in order to monitor his movements and the vehicles he was using.

But senior officers refused. When he asked why, he claims to have been told, "Cyril is working for the boys, MI5.”

Cyril McGuinness leaving Dublin District Court in 2014. Pic: Collins Courts.© Collins Courts.

In 1996, the IRA ended its ceasefire with a huge bomb attack on the London docklands, killing two men and causing damage estimated at £150m.

In the aftermath, Scotland Yard issued a photo fit picture of the man who was suspected of having driven the bomb to its target. It was clearly Cyril McGuinness.

Police later claimed that he’d escaped to the Irish Republic. However, the RUC officer was suspicious of the police claims, as he knew that McGuinness was still on the border.

All of this only reinforced his suspicion that McGuinness was working for British intelligence.

After all, at the time, the British and Irish governments were working hand in hand on the peace process.

Any application to have McGuinness extradited would have been done with pleasure by a Dublin government keen to underscore its even-handed approach to the North.

When Kevin Lunney pulled out of the headquarters of Quinn Industrial Holdings around 6.30pm on September 17, driving his Toyota Land Cruiser, he had no idea he was being followed.

He turned left out of the office and drove along the Ballyconnell Road, Derrylin, where he turned left again and from there "it’s a straight run home."

Former Quinn Insurance executive Kevin Lunney. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

But he was driving into an ambush. Minutes later, his masked kidnappers rammed his car, pulled him forcefully from his vehicle and bundled him into the boot of their getaway car.

He later told the trial of the four men accused of attacking him, how, “As soon as the boot closed, pretty much immediately I could hear the vehicle taking off at speed out of my lane. I remember thinking I should recall the way the vehicle would go. I remember it turned left.

“I was starting to try to reach for the opening mechanism for the boot. I was able to pull the carpet from the latch area and to feel for the metal string that opens the car from the inside. I pulled that hard and it broke.

“So, then I felt for the actual little lever mechanism, and I was able to open that and it opened. The car was going at speed. There was quite loud shouting from inside the car and I could words of ‘he’s opened the f’n boot!’ “I was aware I was close to the border.

“The road seemed somewhat familiar to me. I noticed a tractor going in the opposite direction. Then another vehicle, a small vehicle in the opposite direction, I waved at it but clearly, they didn’t see me.

“I was trying to identify [where I was] but I wasn’t able to. I thought about jumping out, but it was going so fast, I thought that I put my left foot slightly along the road to gauge how difficult it would be to jump.

“Then the car was slowing down at that stage. I was thinking about jumping still. By the time the car had slowed to a point where I could reasonably think about jumping out, one of the individuals had come through [the back seat]. I was half [out], one foot on the road and about to jump, and they grabbed my right foot so I couldn’t get out.

“The car was slowing and then it came to a stop. The individual was still holding onto my right foot. My shoe had come off my right foot. My next recollection, the individuals had surrounded me [shouting] … ‘we are not going to kill you, we just wanted to talk to you. If you don’t get it, we are going to kill you’.

Garda at the home of Sean Quinn, near Ballyconnell.

“The individual [who] had the Stanley knife hit me on the right-hand side of the face with a wooden object. I was dazed and I don’t think I resisted much after that, and they put me [fully back] in the boot.

“The individual who had come through the seats in the back was then lying inside on top of the folded-down seats and they were holding my hands through the opening between the boot and the back seat. They were holding my hands so I couldn’t use my hands.”

With Lunney subdued in the boot, the car crossed the border. The car journey continued for forty-five minutes before Lunney was pulled from the boot and taken to a horse box.

He told the court: “The individual who was the person driving the Audi, the heavier of the individuals, was standing beside [me] with the Stanley knife and was pressing it to my neck.

“Just inside the door he said something like ‘you know why you are here?’ I said no. ‘You are here because of Quinn Industrial Holdings. You are going to resign. You have destroyed the company’.

“He named two other directors and said they are going to resign as well. It was clear that I was going to resign, or they were going to do something else to me. It wasn’t a question. It was you are going to resign.

“It was also said, you are going to stop these charges and injunctions north and south. [The attackers appeared to be referring to court action against those who had published materials online, to injunctions against a number of people on the border from approaching Lunney or his family, and to the charges against Bernard McGovern.

“I was saying, look, don’t kill me, I will do whatever you want.”

Then a vicious attack ensued. They used the knife to scrape under his fingernails to remove any DNA, and then one of them, having gone to a local store to purchase it, poured bleach over him.

He told the court that at one point the attackers said ‘QIH’ into his ear as they ‘quickly scored QIH down my stomach with a Stanley knife’. In an attack that lasted 45 minutes, he was also slashed across the face – wounds that would require 26 stitches – and had his leg broken.

Kevin Lunney said he thought he was going to be killed.

Afterwards, he was put back in the car and dumped at the side of a road before being discovered by a passer-by who called the police.

18/9/2019, Members of the PSNI near a laneway leading to the home of Kevin Lunney, in Kilawley, Co. Fermanagh, Mr Lunney, is an executive of Quinn Industrial holdings. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM© Damien Eagers / INM

One evening, several weeks after the Lunney attack, Sean and Patricia Quinn sat at their kitchen table overlooking a dark and choppy Aghavoher Lough.

Patricia, who’d made tea and had laid out a platter of biscuits, said it had been a hard time for the family.

“Every morning you get up it’s no different. You have just this heavy load every morning, enormous pressure, yeah. And it translates onto the children and everybody in the house. Because everyone is in bad form.”

Her husband, sitting at the head of the table, said it was ‘beyond belief’ that he was being blamed for the attack.

“Now they try to make us criminals. It’s soul-destroying. It makes no sense. I’d say these boys are gangsters at a level that’s way beyond anything that’s ever been seen before.”

Patricia channelled her anger at two men she had hosted at her home many times. “I would be very disappointed with the priest, a man that used to come in here to céilí. He named us, even though he said he didn’t, he did name us. And I’d be fierce disappointed with him. I’ll never forgive him. Never. Never.

“Back-stabber. That’s what he is, a pure back-stabber. And I’d be very disappointed with John McCartin, a man that lived in this house for I don’t know how long. He had his breakfast, dinner and tea here.”​

Sean Quinn

As far as Sean and Patricia Quinn were concerned, they were the real victims. Kevin Lunney’s wounds would heal, but they would never get back what they’d lost in the weeks and months after the attack on Lunney,

Quinn knew that he’d lost the support of his beloved community, the people he’d lived among all his life, those who’d benefited most from his entrepreneurialism.

Many had turned their backs on him. And it clearly hurt.

"I suppose we were one of the most popular and highly respected families in the country for maybe twenty or thirty years, and now all of a sudden, it’s just gone downhill.

“Every move we made, in fairness, wasn’t a good move. I could have done things better,” he admitted.

QUINN by Trevor Birney, published by Merrion Press is out now RRP £17.99


Today's Headlines

More Irish Crime

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos