Wallace spoke little about his troubles with Revenue

Sat, Jun 9, 2012, 01:00

The developer made no secret of his bank debts, but was less vocal about his VAT shortfall

DEVELOPER MICK Wallace has made no secret of his problems with the banks but has spoken less often about debts to the Revenue Commissioners before this week.

On Wednesday, Mr Wallace said that before he stood for election in February 2011, he “made it plain” that he owed Revenue €1.4 million.

Speaking to Bryan Dobson on the Six O’Clock News on RTÉ, he said he had mentioned his debt, and the amount involved, to Vincent Browne and Mary Wilson on their respective shows. He said he had also referred to it at numerous public meetings in Co Wexford during the election campaign.

However, an online search of various media reports yesterday turned up only one reference by Mr Wallace to his tax debts before this year. This was when he was interviewed with footballer Kevin Doyle by RTÉ presenter Miriam O’Callaghan in June 2011.

In that interview, he said he didn’t feel good about owing the banks money “and I feel a lot worse about owing the Revenue and sub-contractors money”.

“I do owe some money to both and I’ve done my best to pay off as many of the subbies as I could. I also have an arrangement with Revenue where I pay so much a month. If the banks decide to stop working with me, it will collapse and I will owe more money to the Revenue and sub-contractors, and that’s not a great place to be.

“It’s actually not a crime to owe money,” he said. “There’s some people going to owe the taxpayer a lot more than me.”

Asked by Ms O’Callaghan how much he owed the Revenue, he replied: “I’m not sure. It’s VAT and we just couldn’t pay it but we’re paying it back on a monthly basis.”

This arrangement unravelled after ACC Bank secured a €19.4 million judgment against Mr Wallace last November.

There is no mention of the issue in an election canvass article in The Irish Times in February 2011, which quoted the property developer as saying “owing money to the banks, that doesn’t make me a criminal”. Neither is there any reference to the matter in local media articles in Co Wexford at the time.

Mr Wallace stood for the Dáil at short notice last year under the slogan “For a New Politics”.

He was elected on the first count with over 13,000 votes. His election leaflet promised that “I will make no empty promises to deliver the usual ‘stroke’ politics. But I do promise to bring an honest approach in working to change the way we are governed”.

Ms Wilson conducted a lengthy interview with Mr Wallace in November 2011, after the ACC Bank judgment.

This dealt with his bank debt but made no mention of Revenue issues.

Mr Browne’s shows from this period are not available online but the presenter said yesterday he had no recollection of the issue being mentioned during Mr Wallace’s appearances, though he would have to check.