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Saturday 20 September 2014

Mick Wallace faces garda probe over 'hitman' remarks after ex-Navy officer files complaint

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Published 09/10/2012 | 05:00

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Anthony Sheridan, the retired Navy officer who lodged the complaint at Cobh garda station in Cobh, Co Cork
Mick Wallace

INDEPENDENT TD Mick Wallace is facing a garda investigation into his claim that he once threatened to hire a hitman.

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The complaint to the gardai has been made by a retired Irish Navy non-commissioned officer, who runs a public information website.

It came as more of Mr Wallace's former colleagues in the Technical Group of Independent and small party TDs condemned his "hitman" comments.

But there are mixed views in the Technical Group about denying the Wexford TD their spare speaking time, some saying it was his democratic right to express his views in the Dail regardless of his actions.

The complaint against Mr Wallace was made by Anthony Sheridan (60), who has previously made complaints about the conduct of other politicians.

He turned up at the garda station in his hometown of Cobh in Cork yesterday to deliver his written complaint about Mr Wallace's admission that he once threatened to hire a hitman to recover an outstanding IR£20,000 debt from a building contractor.

Mr Sheridan said he had got a polite reception from the garda on duty, who accepted his complaint. But he said he did not expect the garda investigation into his complaint to lead to anything.

"The main reason to do it is to publicise it and at least let these people know that there's somebody tracking them. Nothing will happen to Mick Wallace.

"The politicians can't even get together and censure him," he said.

Mr Wallace is still facing a motion of censure for his decision to deliberately under-declare €1.4m of VAT paid to his construction company for apartment sales. But no decision on when it will be moved has been made by the cross-party Oireachtas committee.

Transcript

Mr Sheridan provided gardai with a transcript of the section of Mr Wallace's interview on RTE's 'Marian Finucane Show', where he spoke about hiring a hitman.

Gardai are required to investigate any serious complaint.

But a garda spokesman said it was not policy to discuss complaints made by or about named individuals.

Independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan, who had refused to call for Mr Wallace's resignation from the Technical Group, said his "hitman" comments were very unfortunate.

"Being involved in representing Dublin Central, I'd be very aware of the intimidation that some families are subjected to in relation to drug debts.

"I know he said he didn't use a hitman but the interview could have done without a mention of it," she said.

However, Ms O'Sullivan said she would not be supporting the demand of fellow Independent TDs Finian McGrath and John Halligan to deny Mr Wallace any of the Technical Group's Dail speaking time.

She said she had been unable to speak for a year-and-a-half after she got elected in the June 2009 by-election because there had been no technical group in existence then.

"I know what it was like to be in the Dail without a voice. I would not agree with depriving him of the right to speak," she said.

TDs only can get guaranteed speaking rights if they are member of a party or technical group in the Dail -- otherwise they have to beg other TDs for some of their spare time.

Fellow Independent TDs Catherine Murphy and Mattie McGrath condemned Mr Wallace's "hitman" comments.

But Mr McGrath said he would not support any denial of speaking time to him, while Ms Murphy said she did not want to comment.

Mr Wallace could not be contacted for comment. Justice Minister Alan Shatter did not comment about the matter.

Irish Independent

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