TRIBUTES have been paid to Northern Ireland agri businessman Denis Lynn, who died following a quad bike accident on Sunday night.

Mr Lynn, 63, was the founder of Finnebrogue in Downpatrick, which championed his locally produced food including venison and a range of bacon and sausages.

Mr Lynn started his career selling pies from a van and quickly expanded into selling pre-cooked chips and then into farming. Based at the Finnebrogue Estate in County Down, he developed the popular Naked Bacon range, which was free from nitrites, and then a range of sausages.

More lately he was leading an expansion into plant based foods and already had completed a new factory to produce that new range. The company employs around 1000 people across four sites in County Down and supplies several major UK supermarkets.

A statement released by Finnebrogue read: “It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Denis Lynn. Our thoughts are with Denis’s wife Christine, his children Kerry, Clare, Tara and Ciara and the entire family at this incredibly difficult time.

“Denis was an innovator and a visionary with an infectious passion for delivering positive change for the planet and its people. He leaves behind an extraordinary list of achievements.

“Denis also leaves behind Finnebrogue and a vision for its future. Finnebrogue was his creation. It now falls on all of us, the Finnebrogue family, to continue his outstanding work.

“The board of directors has met. Non-executive director David Manning has been appointed interim-chairman with immediate effect. Non-executive director Colin Walsh has been appointed interim deputy-chairman.

“The senior management team will lead the business on a day-to-day basis. Denis was our founder, leader and inspiration. We will best honour his memory by invoking his passion for making food the best it can possibly be, without being bound by the way it’s always been done, and by trying every day to make the world a better place.”

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster said: “I am incredibly sorry to learn of Denis’ death. He was a trail blazer for NI. I have many happy memories of times well spent promoting our food offering across the world.”

The Hamilton family who own the Mash Direct food business said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of our dear friend Denis Lynn. Our thoughts are with his wife Christine and daughters Kerry, Clare, Tara and Ciara at this difficult time.

“Denis was an incredible innovator who delivered positive change in the world and this spanned well beyond his extraordinary business achievements.”