FIGHTING back tears, former businessman Sean Quinn made a surprise appearance at a rally held in his honour last night and told the thousands that attended: "I apologise, I could get emotional".

The streets of Ballyconnell were packed for the pro-Quinn event, organised by Concerned Irish Citizens and guest speakers included Father Brian D'arcy and a number of GAA personalities, including; Mickey Harte, Jarlath Burns and Colm O'Rourke.

Sitting on the stage throughout, Mr. Quinn's daughter Colette, welled up at various points too, as she watched the invited guests pay tribute to her father.

"Quinn was a man of his word and trusted others. He was wrong. He was not dealing with an honest group... Sean Quinn killed the oxygen of violence by bringing jobs and with jobs came peace," said Father D'Arcy.

"Tonight we are coming together and like the founders of the GAA there is no power like the power of the people," Jarlath Burns told the crowd.

"Nobody should take any solace in the public humiliation of the Quinn family. You never kick a man when he is down," said GAA's Colm O'Rourke .

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte said: "Evil prevails when good people do nothing. It is payback time for Sean Quinn".

Then with her voice crackling, Mr. Quinn's daughter Colette took to the platform after being handed a letter of support on behalf of the local community.

She said: "We thank you all for everything you have done for the family in the last two years".

But the biggest surprise of all was the appearance of Sean Quinn himself, a man who has remained very much in the background over the years.

Here he was, baring his soul and as he scanned the sea of people below him, many holding placards, many chanting his name, his voice trembled and he said: "I want to thank you all for the support".

His wife Patricia, sitting watching him, wept as he thanked his family, including Peter Darragh Quinn.

"I would like to say a special word of thanks to young Peter who is getting a bad reputation this weather. Peter has been a huge supporter of mine and the family.... the Quinns will continue to be the Quinns and we will stand by each other".

He then went on to say how he hoped "justice would prevail" in the long term and how he hoped business would continue in the area with or without his involvement.

See our video of Sean Quinn's address below and for full coverage of the rally, latest developments, photographs and analysis check out this week's Impartial Reporter.