Gardaí believe they may have found the location where the Quinn Industrial Holdings executive Kevin Lunney was held against his will and brutally beaten.

An area of land was sealed off today in Drumbade outside the village of Ballinagh in Co Cavan in what is being seen as a significant development in the investigation.

The 50-year-old father-of-six was attacked by armed and masked men and abducted outside his home in Derrylin in Co Fermanagh as he arrived home from work on Tuesday evening.

He was driven across the border in the boot of a car and held against his will for almost three hours during which he was brutally beaten and slashed.

He was found by a farmer in Cornafean in Co Cavan at around 9pm that night after he had been left seriously injured on the side of the road.

A container that gardaí suspect Mr Lunney may have been held in is now the subject of a detailed forensic examination by specialists from the Garda Technical Bureau.

The Divisional Search team is also carrying out searches of the area, including a fenced off site with scrap metal.

All roads to the site have been closed off by gardaí and the search is due to continue tomorrow.

Gardaí also believe they have identified one of the gang members. The man, who is known to gardaí and is from Co Cavan, was seen buying industrial bleach.

Detectives suspect this was used to wipe down Mr Lunney and parts of the container after the attack to destroy forensic evidence.

Evidence seized in two other searches last Friday including CCTV footage is now being examined.

Gardaí believe an organised crime gang with links to dissident republicans was involved in the abduction of Mr Lunney.

The gang is also involved in cross-border organised crime such as car theft, smuggling and fraud and gardaí say the gang primarily comprises of violent and dangerous criminals as opposed to a disciplined subversive group pursuing an ideology.

The Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey has described the attack on Mr Lunney as savage and horrific and today gardaí renewed their appeal for information from anyone in the community which they say will be treated in confidence.

They also say they will make every effort to bring what they describe as these violent criminals to justice but they say they need the support of the community.

Appeal for violence to be brought to an end

The parish priest of Derrylin, Co Fermanagh has condemned what he called the brutal attack on Kevin Lunney and appealed to those responsible for the violence to stop before somebody gets killed.  

In a statement delivered after weekend masses, Fr Gerard Alwill said the barbaric act runs contrary to Christian values and against natural human values.  

Describing the reactions of the local community, Father Alwill said 'over the last few days I've sensed a growing feeling of anger, resentment and revulsion among the members of our community over what has happened'.

He said many people feel helpless and afraid, with no one to speak on their behalf.

Fr Alwill said, "In the name of God, and in the name of our community, we ask these people to stop the violence now. There has to be a better way of resolving these issues. In the name of God - stop before somebody gets killed."

On Friday, hundreds of people turned out at a rally in support of Mr Lunney.

Staff at QIH called for an end to the campaign of intimidation and attacks against the company's senior executives and pleaded with anyone who has information to come forward.

Additional reporting: Tommie Gorman