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Arguably the most colourful character among Dáil Éireann’s new breed of TDs, Mick Wallace has been a property developer, a football coach, a Robert Plant lookalike, an outspoken opponent of US foreign policy, a father of four... and a poll-topper in the recent General Election. Olaf Tyaransen meets the new Deputy for Wexford.
Olaf Tyaransen, 06 Apr 2011
Were you ever asked?
No, I was never. We know that planners have taken bribes but I can assure you that, I would have dealt with Dublin City Council mostly because I built nearly always between the canals in Dublin and I have never… To be honest with you, the people I met in Dublin City Council in the planning department were generally very honest and actually cared about the city. But too often, there has been political interference in planning decisions.
You fell out with Dublin City Council didn’t you, when you put up the ‘No to Lisbon’ banner on one of your buildings?
I didn’t fall out with them, they fell out with me. It’s very different. Cos I got on great with Dublin City Council, I got on great with a lot of people working in there. We built very well for them, we were easy to work with, we didn’t make claims, we built with passion and we cared about what we did, and we did it better than any of the others, than our opponents. But as you know, I put up about six different banners over a seven-year period from ‘98 to ‘05 or ’06. ‘No to War’, ‘No to Nice’, ‘No to American Terrorism’. And that upset them a lot. It didn’t upset the Council, it upset the Government because their American friends didn’t like it very much and they wanted it down.
You went to court over that, didn’t you?
I went to the High Court to stop them from taking it down and I won. Somebody was sent to me; I remember working, I was laying pavement on Fade Street at the time and one of the senior people in the Council came down to me and he said, “The banner, you’ve got to take it down. You have to take it down. We’re getting pressure from the very top of the Government and we’re being told ‘that bastard works for you so why can’t you tell the fucker what to do?’” And I said, “I’m sorry, I can’t take it down. I couldn’t live with myself if I took it down.” “Well,” he says, “we’ve been told that you’ll never get work again if you don’t take it down.” “Well,” I said, “that sounds very unfair, I don’t see why it should have anything to do with my work, but I still can’t take it down. I don’t care if it costs me money.” I didn’t take it down and in fairness to the Council they didn’t give me any more work (smiles).