not a member? click here to sign up
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
Is it in serious trouble?
Oh yeah it is, yeah.
Tell me a bit about how you built Wallace Construction up.
I started working on the buildings when I was 17 and sure I worked every year on the buildings at different stages all my life from then on. But it wasn’t until 1989 that I registered my own company. I had been working on the buildings a good bit before that, but I registered my own company in ‘89 and that’s when it really started off for me and I built it from there.
And you made a lot of money.
I would have made a lot of money, but obviously would have kept a lot of assets and a lot of property. I would have about 75 units in this city, in the centre of the city between the canals alone, between offices, shops and apartments. But as is well known, I owe about €40 million to the banks and there was a time when the assets were worth double that but now they’re worth less.
Does that keep you awake at night?
No, it doesn’t, no. Different things keep me awake.
I worry more about personal things than business. Personal pressures are far more likely to get in on my system. My kids: I’m very sensitive to any issues that I might have with my kids or they might have with themselves or with anybody else. And that’s much more concerning altogether than business. But listen, I do my best to make my business work and I’ve done my best to make my construction company, I’ve tried to keep it afloat for the last three and a half years. The banking crisis would have started for me around September ’07, and I’ve been dealing with four banks in that period since. It’s been very difficult but we’ve done our best to keep it going. Unfortunately, not only do we owe money to the banks but we also owe money to sub-contractors that we haven’t been able to pay. Because we couldn’t sell all the apartments on the last few jobs, we ended up having to rent them out and the bank takes the rent. But because we couldn’t bring in all the money for the sales, we were left in a situation where we couldn’t pay all our debts. Now if the banks were to continue to support me, then I could come through the crisis and I could pay everybody, but if the banks don’t support me and bring in a receiver, then obviously my business would collapse and I’d just have to start again.