Quinn: Grit and Greed on the Border

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Quinn: Grit and Greed on the Border

Quinn: Grit and Greed on the Border

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In the early years of the twenty-first century, Seán Quinn was considered to be Ireland’s richest man, with a Midas touch: everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. His company owned Ireland’s only glass producers, and one of its biggest insurance companies. The Quinn Group built the Slieve Russell, one of Ireland’s premier hotels, and owned one of Britain’s most prestigious golf resorts, The Belfry, as well as a number of pubs, hotels, office complexes and shopping centres across Europe and Asia. The man, a Ballyconnell native who has known Quinn all his life, and who believed the businessman “shot himself in the foot” in the documentary, was surprised by the “nastiness” of the comments directed at the priest.

And his family will not. People would be conscious of what others lost. He created jobs but people worked very hard for him,” said the local, again speaking on condition of anonymity.In the early years of the twenty-first century, Seán Quinn was considered to be Ireland’s richest man, with a Midas touch: everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. His company owned Ireland’s only glass producers, and one of its biggest insurance companies. The Quinn Group owned pubs, hotels, office complexes and shopping centres across Ireland, Europe and Asia. But Anglo executives actually had a cunning plan, according to Quinn. They didn’t want him to start selling the CFDs; knew that the Quinn Group’s level of borrowings was low; and therefore Anglo could lend him money to pay the margin calls, thereby protecting their share price. “Whether or not they had discussed this with the [financial] regulator or the Central Bank in advance of that meeting, I have no idea,” he says. Why did his empire collapse so suddenly, and disastrously? The Quinn businesses had invested heavily in ‘contracts for difference’ (CFDs) in Anglo-Irish Bank, a blue-chip company. The failure of the Irish banking system in 2008 eventually led to Quinn’s losses of €3 billion, and to the demise of his business empire, devastating Quinn, his family, and his local community. Over the past three nights, this three-part series, written and directed by Enniskillen-born documentary maker Trevor Birney, charted the Fermanagh quarryman’s remarkable achievements over four decades in business and how his own actions ultimately destroyed the vast fortune that were the fruits of those achievements. Last night as he signed copies of his book and shook hands with those who queued to greet him, the man who told Newstalk this week that the hadn’t the price of a bag of spuds seemed right at home.

Now Seán Quinn has decided to tell his life story, and to correct some of the falsehoods that have been propagated over the past decade or more. Many people have already sought to tell the Seán Quinn story, but now, for the first time, Quinn details his side of the story. Seán Quinn: My Story encompasses not just the personal, but also the story of his family and company. In this book, Seán Quinn admits his own mistakes, but also seeks to uncover the wrongs that have been committed by other people – some of whom he trusted too much, and some who wanted to use him as a scapegoat for Ireland’s banking crisis. Writing in the Sunday Independent in response to the Fermanagh businessman’s new book, Fr O’Reilly, who now lives in the village of Arva in Co Cavan, recalled first meeting Seán Quinn in the early 2000s.Mr Quinn had told Ms Sheehan during her interview with him that she was “just talking s***”. But Mr Quinn told the Fermanagh Herald this week: “I lost my rag and I apologise for it”. He said he had been irritated “but I was wrong. I should have had better wit”. Dee Forbes has resigned as a director of the Dublin International Piano Competition – in the first indication that the former director general of RTÉ may be planning to, ahem, scale down her involvement in civil life. Forbes left RTÉ at the height of the Ryan Tubridy pay controversy, and did not attend any of the subsequent Oireachtas hearings, citing ill health. A change of directorship at the triennial piano competition, whose patron is President Michael D Higgins, was notified to the companies office on August 28th. What I found terrible in the programme was the venom that was directed against Fr Oliver,” he said. “That surprised me. And to throw in the little dig about him having wine in their house. There was no need for that.” Many analysts believe had the Quinn Group consolidated their interests at this time rather than further expansion the outcome might have been very different for Quinn. I finished school at fifteen so writing books isn’t something I’m used to. It is important that my side of the story is told. There’s a lot of local people who wonder what happened and they have been reading a certain narrative of events for years and it is not the real story, so I’m happy to have put that out there.”

They will continue to do so for the next two decades to cover the massive losses run up by Quinn Insurance. His gamble on Anglo — the world’s most toxic bank — not only led to the destruction of his own business empire but cost the Irish taxpayer billions of euro. What I found terrible in the programme was the venom that was directed against Fr Oliver. That surprised me’ Tears roll down the face of Seán Quinn, with his wife Patricia, as his daughter Ciara speaks on behalf of the family at a 2012 rally to show support for the Quinn family, attended by up to 10,000 people in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan. Photograph: Alan Betson I hated the process. I employed over 7,000 people and none of the years were as hard as the last year writing that book. Every part I wrote contained something about betrayal, as well as the businesses we had and lost. It wasn’t nice doing it but it’s lovely to have it done. I’m not one bit worried about people who don’t believe me. The people who are anti-Quinn won’t believe anything I say.Empires fall for many reasons but the end for the Quinn Group can be put down to greed and gambling. But between 2007 and 2013, Quinn’s companies went from being a great success to a complete disaster. The Quinn Group became one of Ireland’s biggest ever business failures. Seán Quinn became Ireland’s biggest ever bankruptcy, and in the winter of 2012–2013 he ended up in jail for nine weeks, having been found in contempt of court. Outwardly Quinn was King Cash and deemed by the Sunday Times Rich List to be the 164th richest man in the world. He still put himself across as “Citizen Sean” — while owning a €15m private jet. That’s the moment where you saw change. I’m convinced Seán Quinn was never the same after that,” one source close to the businessman at the time is quoted as saying in the book.



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