Irish sporting legend Mickey Harte led a massive rally in support of beleaguered and bankrupt billionaire Sean Quinn on Sunday night.

Harte, manager of the Tyrone football team, was just one of a number of sporting celebrities who joined over four thousand people in Cavan to show their support for Quinn.

A handwritten letter from Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary in support of Quinn was read to the gathering.

For decades the Quinn Group was the largest employer in the unemployment black spot border area providing as many as 7,000 jobs.

Quinn made a disastrous punt in Anglo Irish stock just as the bank was collapsing. Now the bank is pursuing him and his family to recover guarantees he gave which number in the billions of dollars.

Former Meath manager Sean Boylan, All-Ireland winning Armagh boss Joe Kernan, and legendary players Colm O’Rourke and Jarlath Burns, also attended the march.

Together with outspoken priest Fr Brian D’Arcy, they took to the stage at the local GAA club when an emotional Quinn addressed the huge crowd.

As his son Sean Jnr serves a three month prison sentence, Quinn thanked those who had supported him after the collapse of his multi-billion Euro empire in his ongoing battle with the former Anglo Irish Bank.

Once the richest man in Ireland, Quinn was close to tears as he said, “It might be a bit emotional for me this evening speaking in my home town.

“Since March 2010, when Quinn was put into receivership, the support has been outstanding. A propaganda war has been waged against Quinn for the past 28 months.

“A story has been told that is not a true story. We hope that the intelligent people will understand the difference.

“One special guest that knows all about justice, or lack of it, is Mickey Harte. I think he and his family came through it with dignity and we hope we can come through it with half the dignity that he did.”

Accompanied by his wife Patricia and his extended family, Quinn heard a number of celebrity speakers address the crowd in Ballyconnell.

Protesters waved placards which read, ‘Free Sean Jnr, he’s no criminal’ and, ‘Anglo Steals a Business. Quinns get Jail. Why?’

Tyrone football boss Harte, whose daughter Michaela was murdered on honeymoon in Mauritius last year, drew the biggest cheer of the night.

He told the crowd: “Evil prevails when good people do nothing. It is payback time for Sean Quinn.”

All-Ireland winner Boylan added: “Every man in this country is entitled to justice.”

O’Rourke said: “Nobody should take any solace in the public humiliation of the Quinn family. You never kick a man when he is down.”

Outspoken cleric Fr Brian D’Arcy, a family friend, told the crowd: “We have a duty to stand by our neighbours when they’re in trouble.

“Seán Quinn and his family brought prosperity and jobs to the area from stony rocks.

“In doing so, he brought peace to the country by creating thousands of jobs and this removed the oxygen for violence.”

The former Armagh football manager Joe Kernan, declared bankrupt in Belfast two years ago, said: “I call for justice to be done. Let Seán Quinn build another empire”.

There was no sign of Quinn’s nephew Peter Darragh at the march.

He is currently the subject of an arrest warrant in the Republic after he was sentenced to serve three months for contempt of court, along with his cousin Sean Jnr.

Peter Darragh Quinn didn’t show up in court in Dublin for his sentencing, but was photographed at a football match in his native Fermanagh last Friday along with his father Peter, the former GAA president.


Sean Quinn gets emotional as over 4,000 turn out in Cavan to show their supportPA