The campaign of terror and torture against the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings shows the rule of law “does not run” in Cavan, according to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
He called for a cross border agency to tackle the gang bosses, who, he said, were turning the border county into a “no go area” for business and investors.
Former Justice Minister and Attorney General Michael McDowell said the “savage” actions of those who abducted and tortured QIH director Kevin Lunney represented an “attack on the authority” of the state, North and South.
They were commenting after an interview Mr Lunney gave on BBC's Spotlight programme, in which the Fermanagh businessman spoke in graphic and moving detail about the extended violence and trauma he was subjected to last September, before being dumped half-naked on a Cavan road.
Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Mr Martin described the violence inflicted on the father-of-six as “absolutely vicious and animalistic”, but also “very professional and clinical”.
He likened the attack to the savage murder of South Armagh man Paul Quinn, aged 21, on the orders of senior figures in the Provisional IRA in Co Monaghan in 2007.
“In many ways, the rule of the State does not run here,” Mr Martin said.
He said this needed “a full and no-holes-barred” response by the State.
Fianna Fáil published proposed legislation earlier this year to enable the establishment of a cross border agency, comprising law enforcement representatives from both sides of the border, with a sister body similar to the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Mr Martin said “24-hour surveillance” is required and added that “finance and money” was key to the State's response.
“This is a real wake-up call and without question this cannot be allowed to continue,” he said.
He asked what message this was sending to outside investors as to how Ireland “as a country and a democracy” facilitated business, given the current message was that this was “a no go area”.
Mr McDowell said the fact there were two separate jurisdictions complicated the situation for policing and other agencies and backed any move for a formal cooperative structure.
He said the level of violence and criminal damage over the years highlighted “a failure of policing” on both sides of the border and said there should have been an appreciation the attacks were going to escalate.
Mr McDowell said there had to be an “absolutely resolute approach”, North and South, by policing and other agencies to “reestablish the sovereignty” of the Irish State and the Northern State.
He said the actions were so savage that they represented a “challenge to democracy and the legitimacy” of the two jurisdictions and a “challenge to the rule of law which just can't be ignored”.
The State's response should include “extremely extensive surveillance”, including the bugging of phones and people, he sadik, adding that this had to be done “very intensively”.
The recent threats to council workers by a masked man made it clear that the “authority of this state is under attack”.
“The underlying reality as to why this is happening and to whose favour these crimes are being committed and what the motivation for them is, that's fully explored.” Kevin Lunney's brother Tony, also a director of QIH, described a meeting they had with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on Tuesday as “good and constructive”.
He said the commissioner had “listened very carefully” and was “very well informed”.
“I went away from the meeting certainly that there was a commitment there to get the job done – the results have to flow through,” he said.
Mr Lunney said local people “need to see the authorities are in control” and take on a “small minority who have gained power and a bit of status and trying to control and destroy this area”.