Former billionaire Sean Quinn has said that he wants to make a comeback in his former businesses in the Ballyconnell/Derrylin area and is “fit and keen” to do so. Addressing a public meeting in an industrial unit in Ballyconnell last Tuesday evening, Mr Quinn confidently declared: “I don’t think there is anybody that would make a greater success of it.”
Around three hundred people packed into the upstairs area of unit and another 300 or so stood outside the meeting, which was organised by the Cavan, Fermanagh & Leitrim Community Group (CFLCG). It was intended to ‘update the local community on their concerns about the long-term viability of Quinn Building Products’. Members of the Quinn family were invited to attend as were members of senior management at Quinn Industrial Holdings Ltd (QIHL), though the latter did not take up the invitation.
The crowd, which was made up of people from Cavan, Fermanagh and Leitrim, cheered as Sean Quinn said that, even at aged 70 years plus, he is as determined as ever for the challenge.
‘Stabbed in the back’
Quinn became emotional at times when giving his account of all that had happened. He lost his business empire and was then declared bankrupt in 2012, and said he “felt stabbed in the back”.
Quinn feels that his company, which he spent 35 years building up, has now “turned into a laughing stock”. He also raised concerns about assets being sold, access to raw materials to produce building products and the long-term viability of the business.
STATEMENT FROM QIHL
The company’s future is ‘bright’
The company issued a statement that management did not attend the meeting, which they said appeared to be airing inaccurate representations of the company’s prospects.
“Quinn Industrial Holdings DAC reported a 59% increase in pre-tax profits last year and, this year, has seen a continuation of the trend of increased turnover, profits, investment and employment. Due to the hard work of the company’s 830 staff the company’s long-term future is bright.”
'I would make a success of it' - Quinn
During a question and answer session from the audience on Tuesday, Quinn made it clear that at all times he wanted to buy back the company.
“Do I feel that if I was back in there in the morning, that I would make a success of it? Yes. I don’t think there is anybody that would make a greater success of it. I think I could pay more money back to the bond holders than any other man on this earth. It would not be easy because there is a lot of destruction done and it needs major capital investment,” he contended.
“It is a mess. Could I sort it out?... I don’t think there is anybody that would be able to sort it out better. I am still fit. I am still keen. I am still determined and I know I have the support of the customers, the staff, the neighbours, the friends, the landowners – I think I would have all the support to make it as good as it could be made, based on the position it is in,” said a confident Quinn.
He estimated that the concrete/cement division of the business is responsible for 65% to 70% of the profit in the group. “We know that all parts of that [raw materials] is running out – limestone, sandstone, gravel and shale,” said a concerned Quinn.
“All they have to do, is come along and say ‘Sean, we got this wrong. We should not be here. There are the keys’,” he continued.
Sean Quinn confirmed that the so called ‘big case’ is scheduled to commence on January 17, 2019.
Patricia Gilheaney, a member of the group that organised the meeting thanked the hundreds of those who attended and showed their ongoing support for Quinn.
“I want to particularly thank the workers for coming here tonight because I know they have come under pressure to not come,” she said.
Sean Quinn said that, if a further public meeting is organised, he will attend.
The chairman of the meeting, Freddie Walsh, said the directors will also be invited to that meeting “and they can give their side of the story”.
One of the members of the Cavan, Fermanagh and Leitrim Community Group, Enda Corrigan, said that arising from the meeting, they will be sending a list of questions to the management. “We give them two weeks to reply to them and their answers will be put up on the site.”
The site is www.cflcg.com
“We are going to keep fighting for our community and, with your support, we will succeed in what we started out to do in 2011,” said Enda.
* For a detailed report from the meeting and photos, see Wednesday's Anglo-Celt