IT IS clear that former bankrupt Seán Quinn has little time for John McCartin – one of the two names he dropped on Newstalk last week when asked which executives in Mannok Holdings (formerly Quinn Group) he would be happy to see beaten up. It wasn’t too surprising, therefore, that he had dropped his former senior exec’s name into that controversial interview with Maeve Sheehan in the Sindo a few days earlier, linking McCartin to one Leo Varadkar.
When discussing those who had wronged him, Quinn said that Vlad was “best friends with John McCartin… and had slept in his house and attended a meeting in the packaging factory”. (On Newstalk, Quinn went on to qualify his remarks about the executives and condemned all forms of violence numerous times.)
It is true that McCartin and Varadkar go back some way and, when McCartin ran for Leitrim County Council 10 years ago, Vlad put in a special appearance at one of his election meetings. As taoiseach he met the five directors, who were running what was then still called Quinn Group after Quinn’s exit, to discuss the violence against the company in an hour-long meeting.
Vlad and McCartin then repaired to a local hostelry for a much lengthier meeting to discuss old times and new (ie the pressing need for a suitable Blueshirt general election candidate in the Sligo Leitrim constituency).
Back in Dublin, Vlad sought to convince his colleagues that John McCartin was the ideal person to solve their candidate problem in the area. FG had failed to persuade sitting TD Tony McLoughlin to reconsider his retirement plans and subsequently also failed to recruit former Independent MEP Marian Harkin.
Leo was sure that his old buddy, John, was the solution, although not everyone was convinced, with no little support for senator Frankie Feighan to run in the four-seater.
Varadkar’s campaigning for John McCartin had immediate repercussions, however, and the following weekend the Sunday Times featured a story about a group of Quinn Group staff who had been involved in acts of sabotage, followed by a separate story a week later about McCartin being involved in a campaign to prevent the sale of Seán Quinn’s companies in 2011.
Absolute no inference was made about the potential Blueshirt candidate being in any way complicit with violence but the paranoid souls in the party leadership believed he would be a target of unscrupulous opposition candidates in the election campaign. Poor John was sunk.
The reality behind McCartin’s behaviour in Quinn/Mannok is that, along with other senior staff, he initially supported the rehabilitation of Seán Quinn in the company but duly concluded that the old boss’s demands were unrealistic and so abandoned him in what he believed to be the best interests of the company.
Not surprisingly, Seán Quinn sees it differently and likes to remind everyone of McCartin’s close links to the unpopular Varadkar whenever he gets the chance.