POLICE in Fermanagh have stepped up their presence in the Derrylin area following a spate of attacks against the Quinn Group.
An electricity sub-station was damaged in an arson attack last Wednesday night, less than a week after the company's former owner Sean Quinn was imprisoned for contempt of court in Dublin.
The building at a wind farm on the Ballyconnell Road was reported to be on fire sometime between 6pm and 7pm. No-one was injured but the property was left with substantial damage.
It was just the latest in a long line of incidents to occur in the area following the takeover of the Quinn Group by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) in 2011. In January there was a fire at one of the buildings near the company's headquarters while in December 2011, a lorry was used to drive into the front of the Quinn staff canteen. In August 2011, the new Quinn Group chief executive suffered an arson attack on his car parked outside his county Meath home. And in July last year, a number of vehicles worth thousands of pounds were burnt out at the company's Tarmac plant. Three electricity poles were cut down on that occasion as well -- the 14th time that power lines had been damaged in attacks.
It is understood that additional officers are being tasked to the area in a bid to tackle not just the criminal damage but the protests by Quinn supporters as well. This newspaper also understands that management at the Quinn Group have plans in place so that if another protest occurs and it prevents staff from getting into the main office employees can work remotely from other buildings.
It is still not known if those responsible for the criminal damage are supporting the jailed businessman or just out to cause trouble but many fear the implications that further attacks will have on the Quinn Group.
Interestingly, some comparisons have been made this week with the attacks against the IBRC-owned Quinn Group and the Molly Maguires, the secret society that had a reputation for using violence against the shackles of landlordism in Ireland during the 19th century.
The Molly Maguires destroyed anything they hated and in agricultural Ireland they were the strongest in areas such as north Sligo, Donegal, Mayo and Fermanagh. They carried out their attacks on landlords because they hated them, especially land agents and did so in disguise with tactics such as hit and run. It was secret society. It was oath-bound. It was primarily about using violence to undermine the landlords and strike out at anything that affected the ordinary workers in the hope of improving things for them. There is even a pub in Ballyconnell called the Molly Maguires and a mountain in Derrylin called the Molly Mountain.
One man, who lives near 'Quinn Country', said: "I think there are parallels here with the Sean Quinn story. Those protesters see Sean Quinn as one of their own who is being hard done by because of the IBRC. They see the bank taking over the whole thing and with all the court cases they fear that jobs will go in the Quinn Group so they are not going to stand idly by and allow these things to happen in the same way the Molly Maguires stood up for the people and rejected the landlords."