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Former billionaire jailed, workers protest

Workers at Quinn Group, a family business taken over by a state-owned Irish bank in 2011, yesterday staged a half-day protest in the wake of last week's jailing of their former boss, Sean Quinn.

Workers at Quinn Group, a family business taken over by a state-owned Irish bank in 2011, yesterday staged a half-day protest in the wake of last week's jailing of their former boss, Sean Quinn.

The 66-year-old, who was once Ireland's richest man, began a nine-week jail sentence on 2 November after being found in contempt of court. The conviction centred on his refusal to disclose international property worth hundreds of millions of euros to the now-nationalised Anglo Irish Bank.

At yesterday’s protest, workers reportedly used vehicles to block the entrances of cement and glass factories in Co Fermanagh and Co Cavan – which employ over a thousand people.

Among their demands is immediate talks between the Quinn family and the bank, and for Quinn, who built the conglomerate – which had operations from construction to insurance – from scratch, to be released from jail during discussions.

Anglo Irish Bank, since renamed the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, claims the former billionaire and two members of his family attempted to transfer the ownership of property to offshore companies beyond the bank's reach.

Justice Elizabeth Dunne, who found him guilty of contempt of court this summer, said on 2 November: “I cannot ignore the extent and degree of contempt of court on his part, the appropriate term by reasons of non-compliance with the orders is nine weeks."

She added that Quinn's evidence was "not credible, evasive and uncooperative". Although the judge said she would consider postponing the jail term until a Supreme Court appeal is heard, Quinn, who was worth an estimated $6 billion (€4.7 billion) at the height of his success, opted to start his term immediately.

The father of five, who lost control of his multi-billion family business empire after an ill-fated investment in Anglo Irish, declared himself bankrupt last year over debts of €2.8 billion to the bank. 

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