Haulage firm chief blames Revenue for loss of nearly 400 jobs
THE MANAGING director of one of the State's largest haulage firms, which ceased trading yesterday with the loss of nearly 400 jobs, has claimed that the company closed because of hardline tactics adopted by the Revenue Commissioners.
Seamus McBrien said his company, Target Express, had paid €1 million to the Revenue Commissioners in the last six weeks.
He claimed the Revenue had yesterday rejected a deal which would have seen the company pay off a further €175,000 from an overall outstanding liability of €300,000. As a result, he said, 398 people had lost their jobs because the Revenue insisted on receiving the additional €125,000.
The Revenue Commissioners declined to comment on the case yesterday.
Mr McBrien told The Irish Times last night he had approached the offices of three Cabinet ministers – Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar – to ask them to make representations. However, he said, they did not wish to become involved.
“I am from Northern Ireland and I came down here and established a wonderful business. But I pity anyone trying to operate a business in the Republic of Ireland at this time given the way the Revenue Commissioners have treated me and my company.
“If I was a US company they would have been crawling all over me yesterday, offering me grants to stay.”
Mr McBrien said he felt very sad for his 398 employees who had been loyal to him over the years. Some staff, he added, had offered to work for nothing for a few weeks to see if the difficulties could be resolved. However he believed he could not proceed on such a basis.
He said the company had to cease trading as the Revenue had frozen its bank accounts and he could not pay his workers.
Mr McBrien said he was disappointed that the Revenue Commissioners “could make a decision that results in all these people being put out of work and will probably cost the exchequer €5 million over the coming year in social welfare payments and in lost taxes which would have been paid.”
It is understood the Revenue Commissioners last week placed attachments on the company’s bank account. One of the larger customers of Target Express, the fashion chain A Wear, said last night it was aware that the company had ceased operations. It said it was working with management at the firm in relation to distribution arrangements.
Target Express is the trading name for College Freight, which was founded by Mr McBrien. The company, which has an address in Damastown in Mulduddart, Dublin, operates a number of depots across Ireland, with a small presence in Britain. Its holding company, Farnley Investments, has a registered address in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh. Mr McBrien, and his wife Ann, are the two shareholders of the company.
The most recent accounts for the company, for the year ended December 2010, show that the company had shareholders’ funds of £7.3 million at year end. The company made a pre-tax profit of £1.9 million, and an after-tax profit of £1.62 million that year, on turnover of £29.9 million. Target Express is the main sponsor of Tyrone GAA.
Mr McBrien is listed on the website of the group known as Concerned Irish Business, which has offered support to the former head of the Quinn group, Seán Quinn.