Saturday 24 March 2018

Like wine at the wedding in Cana -- patience ran dry

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

INDEPENDENT TD Mick Wallace gave a warm welcome recently to the Government's 'Jobs Initiative' because of the impact it would make on his own business.

The Wexford builder and businessman spoke in the Dail about how the cut in the lower VAT rate would help the five wine bar-restaurants that he had the 'good fortune' to run.

"I employ more than 50 people and these measures will help me to stop shedding jobs," he said.

But Mr Wallace (55) has now lost control of the wine bars he owned in the Italian Quarter in Dublin's city centre due to the decision of ACC Bank to appoint a receiver over some of his assets.

The Wexford TD is invariably described as 'colourful' due to his fondness for pink shirts and even more flamboyant political gestures.

Critics expected him to vanish without a trace in the Dail, but he has spoken far more often than many other newly elected TDs on a wide range of subjects. And he managed to raise the hackles of government TDs by complaining about their absence from the Dail chamber during a debate on the final Moriarty Tribunal report.

He recently declared on his Twitter account that it was "not easy listening to some muppets on coalition backbenches".

Before his election to the Dail last February, Wallace hit the headlines for two reasons. One was through the colourful hoardings of his company, Wallace Construction, which advertised his support for the Palestinian people and his opposition to the US role in Iraq.


The other was through his role as founder, sponsor and manager of the Wexford Youths soccer club.

He got the support of Wexford-born Irish striker Kevin Doyle when he announced that he would run in the general election -- less than a month before polling day. He delivered a stunning performance, topping the poll with more than 13,000 votes.

Wallace is still heavily involved with Wexford Youths. His recent meeting about education cutbacks was held in the complex he built for Wexford Youths at Ferrycarrig Park.

Wallace shrugged off questions during the election campaign about the possibility of him being declared a bankrupt due to the €40m-plus his company owed to the banks. His consistent reply was that he did not expect this to happen because the money was owed against the company's assets held by the banks. He said that it was important to note that Wallace Construction and Mick Wallace were separate entities.

Wallace also talked about how he hoped the banks would be patient with him -- and that he had built sensibly between the Royal and Grand Canals in Dublin.

But like the wine at the wedding in Cana, the patience of ACC Bank has now run out. It will take a miracle for Wallace to regain control of some of the wine bars that he invested so much energy in establishing. Bankruptcy actions are rare in this country -- and there has never been a case of a TD losing their seat after being forced into bankruptcy by a bank.

But there is now a question mark over Wallace's future in the Dail.

Irish Independent

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