FORMER businessman Sean Quinn returned to jail yesterday (Thursday) after spending Christmas at home in Ballyconnell with his family.

Following a plea from his daughter Ciara, Mr Quinn was granted three days temporary release from Mountjoy Prison where he is serving a nine-week sentence for contempt of court, much to the surprise and delight of his wife Patricia and children.

"We didn't expect him to be out," said a source, close to the Quinns.

Sean Quinn Junior, who last week told this newspaper how he feared returning to prison next year if he is unable to purge his contempt, picked his father up early on Christmas Eve morning.

Then on Boxing Day, Mr Quinn attended his granddaughter's christening at St. Mary's Church in Belturbet, after the date of the baptism was moved at the last minute to accommodate him.

It's understood Ciara (Quinn) and her husband, Niall McPartland, were "over the moon" that the "doting grandfather" was able to witness in person the christening of little, Orna Brigid, at the church at Staghall where the pair got married. Conducted by Father Gerry Comiskey, the baptism was attended by family only, including Orna's godparents, Colette Quinn and Karl McPartland.

"It was a joyful, lovely and beautiful celebration. Everybody was delighted to see Sean making an appearance, as was the man himself. He didn't want to miss it and naturally enough was very much looking forward to it from the moment the news of his temporary release from prison was conveyed to him," said Fr. Comiskey.

Mr Quinn who was back behind bars yesterday is due to be released from prison on January 4.

In a letter, obtained by The Impartial Reporter, the former businessman has thanked supporters for the "overwhelming" number of letters and cards he has received in jail.

"I have been very pleasantly surprised with the depth of knowledge that people have about our situation, considering the very one-sided story that has been portrayed. People can see through the fact that the aim of the Regulator, Anglo and the Government is to blacken the name of my family through the media, and that indeed it is in their interests to do so.

"I find it hard to understand how, even with the mistake that I made, what happened to the Quinn Group since 14th April last year can be justified. One of the best companies in the country is being destroyed because the Irish Government and the Irish Banks went bust. Why were Anglo, one of the worst companies in the country, allowed to take over the Quinn Group, not because of trading losses in the company, but because of losses, that they had funded, on their very own share price? It just makes no sense to me," wrote Mr Quinn.

The letter, written in his prison cell, ended: "I would like to thank you very much for your support, and I can assure you that it is very much appreciated, not only by me, but by all of the family, and it encourages us to continue our fight for the truth and for justice."

Meanwhile, at the request of staff and students at St. Aidan's High School in Derrylin, a special mass to show support for Sean Quinn was held at St. Ninnidh's Church last Friday and was attended by members of Mr Quinn's family, his friends and former employees.