A parish priest in Co Cavan has strongly condemned the attack on Quinn Industrial Holdings Director Kevin Lunney, describing it as a "modern form of crucifixion deployed by terrorist groups such as Islamic State".

He said he believed that "a Mafia-style group with its own 'Godfather'" was behind the attack.

In a homily delivered at mass in Ballyconnell this evening, Fr Oliver O'Reilly described the attack as barbaric,horrific and depraved, and said they were carried out by "hired savage thugs".

"This well-planned and well-organised abduction could only have happened when some person with ulterior motives agreed to pay these criminals a sum of money and give instructions on what he required to be done to an unsuspecting victim.

"As well as condemning the perpetrators of this vile act we also need to forcibly condemn the paymaster or paymasters. Some devious people are so consumed with hatred and enmity that they lose their moral compass and are prepared to hire the most ruthless of criminals to achieve their sinister goals. They also become compulsive liars."

Fr O'Reilly also said some people in the region need to examine their consciences about the statements they made, saying it added to the "climate of intimidation and incited hatred".

He said he believed there was now a threat to the "lives and livelihoods" of people in the region and that what he described as a "false narrative" needs to be challenged.

Fr O'Reilly also apologised to Kevin Lunney, his family and the other director of Quinn Industrial Holdings, saying that he and others had been "far too complacent" in not speaking out more forcibly about their safety because they expected the campaign of intimidation to eventually peter out.

"There is now an obvious cancer of evil in our midst that needs to be exorcised before someone is murdered and the norms of human decency and mutual respect that we all believe in and treasure are destroyed before our eyes".