Saturday 21 October 2017

Maverick can still tap into sympathy of his home base

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

THE grey-haired man in the car park of Wallace's SuperValu waved at his friend to come over.

"Mick is on the radio," he said as he leaned into the car and turned up the volume. Mick Wallace's voice was subdued as he answered questions about not paying the taxman.

In the Independent TD's home place of Wellington Bridge, the Wallace family name is plastered over almost every business premises. The filling station, the auctioneer's office, the supermarket, the clothes store -- the list of Wallace businesses in the area goes on.

There was a hint of self-pity about Mick Wallace as he murmured: "I'm sorry. I really don't feel good about it."

The two men were silent. Everyone else in the car park was packing their groceries and going about their business as normal.

Mr Wallace continued: "I have tried to run my business in an honest fashion since the day I started. I didn't join Fianna Fail; I didn't pay anybody backhanders; I paid my workers properly; I always paid my tax when I could; people can throw all the stones they like at me."

The second man nodded before his friend chipped in: "That's a fact."

There's no doubt that here in his native village, the Wallace name is highly regarded. His family earned their reputation as hard-working and decent people.

"Nobody would have a bad word to say about them," a local said.

Mick Wallace founded Wexford Youths and funded the multimillion-euro construction of Ferrycarrig Park, a state-of-the-art complex for the team near Wexford town.

He married Mary Murphy from Duncormick, Co Wexford in 1979 and they had two sons, Sasha and Fionn. In an interview last year, he said his sons, now in their late 20s, still lived with him in Fairview.

He also had two children, Grainne and Joe Barry-Wallace, from a relationship in the early 1990s with teacher Patricia Barry.

These days, he has been seen out and about in Dublin with Socialist TD Clare Daly after the pair struck up a friendship.

Seven years ago, when Mick Wallace Construction Ltd was booming, Mr Wallace was rarely out of his luminous builder's vest.

One contractor offered him three tips: to visit a tailor, go to the barber and join Fianna Fail.

Mick Wallace said if he had to choose between the three, at a push, he'd cut his hair. He never did.

Irish Independent

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