RTÉ warned TV series on Sean Quinn will put Kevin Lunney’s life in danger
24th December 2021
Kidnap victim Kevin Lunney and his fellow directors have contacted RTÉ to express “grave concerns” that a forthcoming documentary series about the rise and fall of Seán Quinn may escalate a campaign of violence against them.
Liam McCaffrey, the CEO of Mannok (formerly Quinn Industrial Holdings), highlighted concerns that the three-part series, Quinn Country, could inflame a small group of individuals who still pose a serious threat to the lives of the five directors.
In a letter sent to RTÉ in recent weeks, Mr McCaffrey claimed that if certain allegations made by Mr Quinn were aired, it would compromise the safety of the men’s families and the company as a whole.
Multi-award-winning documentary-maker Trevor Birney of Fine Point Films began recording the series for RTÉ, which features extensive interviews with Sean Quinn, more than a year ago.
It is understood the former billionaire tells the story of his rise to become Ireland’s richest man and the subsequent loss of his empire when he gambled his fortune on shares in the ill-fated Anglo Irish Bank.
Mr Quinn has told supporters he co-operated with the programme because it gave him an opportunity to share his life story and fully explain his grievances against his former management team, including Mr Lunney, who he has publicly accused of “stabbing” him in the back.
Mr Quinn has consistently condemned the abduction and torture of his former protege, saying that the suspected paymaster and their associates behind the outrage were not acting in his name.
The broadcast of the series was deferred until after the trial last month of three Dublin criminals who were convicted of the abduction and torture of Mr Lunney.
Quinn Country is currently scheduled to air early in the new year.
Last Monday, the Special Criminal Court sentenced the gang leader, a 40-year-old who can be identified only as YZ, and his accomplices, Alan O’Brien (40) and Darren Redmond (27), to jail terms of between 15 and 30 years for their roles in the crime.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the as yet unidentified paymaster could expect to receive a life sentence if they are convicted in the future.
The Irish Independent understands Mr McCaffrey and other members of the management and director team met with RTÉ some months ago to discuss their safety fears if the documentary went ahead and subsequently wrote a letter expressing their grievances.
The directors declined an offer from the film company to take part in the programmes, saying anything that they would say in rebuttal to Mr Quinn’s allegations could put their lives at risk.
Sources close to the company said Mr Lunney and his colleagues felt that if they were to participate in the programme, their responses could be “interpreted” by a small group of individuals as the impetus for further attacks.
Police on both sides of the border have warned the five directors – Liam McCaffrey, Kevin Lunney, his brother Tony, John McCartin and Daragh O’Reilly – that the threat level against them remains high. They are still receiving armed protection.
“The company directors could not co-operate with the programme because anything they would say would inflame this small group who would see it as an excuse to use further violence,” a source told us
“Within the Border area, this group has continued to spread a completely false narrative that the directors have been involved in a conspiracy to rob Mr Quinn of his companies and are thus in some way legitimate targets.
“These individuals are doing everything in their power to ensure the situation remains highly volatile.
“They will interpret anything that is said publicly as an excuse to carry out further attacks, including having members of the management team killed or seriously injured.”
Neither Mr Birney nor Fine Point Films were willing to comment on Mr McCaffrey’s letter and referred queries to RTÉ.
Mr Birney is an award-winning and respected producer who has earned a reputation for the fair and balanced reporting of highly contentious stories.
Last night, RTÉ said in a statement: “The series is being produced by an independent production company and has not yet been delivered in final form.
“When delivered, it will be considered in line with RTÉ’s statutory obligations as set out in the Broadcasting Act and by reference to the RTÉ Journalism Guidelines. RTÉ takes its responsibilities very seriously.”