Monday 18 December 2017

Seamus Pairceir

Seamus Pairceir, who died in Dublin last week, was a former chairman of the Revenue Commissioners and was once described by Taoiseach Charles Haughey as "an impeccable man with a fine record of public service".

Originally from Cork, he was educated at the 'North Mon' and was a fluent Irish speaker. He joined the civil service and rose through the ranks, becoming chairman of the Revenue Commissioners in 1984.

Mr Pairceir, who lived in Dundrum, Co Dublin, was a typical 'grey' civil servant who shunned any public attention. However, he was brought into the limelight during the so-called 'Telecom Affair'.

This involved the purchase by Telecom Eireann of an old bakery site in Ballsbridge which had previously been owned by a property company, UPH, of which Mr Pairceir, who had by then retired from the civil service, was a director.

On September 21, 1991, Sean O'Rourke interviewed Taoiseach Charlie Haughey about the public disquiet over Telecom paying more than £9m for a site which just a few months earlier had been sold for half the price. Mr Haughey asked that Mr Pairceir, then chairman of the DDA, and Michael Smurfit, then chairman of Telecom, stand down from their positions until an inquiry was conducted into the affair.

Mr Pairceir, who was listening to the interview, said he was "shocked" by this request, but he complied with Mr Haughey's wishes.

It later emerged that in 1986, while he was chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, Mr Pairceir had been asked by Mr Haughey to meet Ben Dunne, who was then contesting a Revenue Commissioners assessment that the Dunnes Stores family trust had a tax bill of £40m. It emerged during the McCracken Tribunal that Mr Pairceir agreed to accept a £16m settlement. He said that if the Dunne family had contested the matter in court the State might not have got anything.

Mr Pairceir, who is survived by his three sons, died in St Vincent's Hospital last week and was buried in Dublin after Requiem Mass on Friday.

Sunday Independent

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