TD JOE HIGGINS has denied comments made today by his Dáil counterpart Mick Wallace, who said that he had told Higgins about his tax problems months before it hit the headlines.
Wallace made the comments in an interview with Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio One this morning. He said that he was surprised at the negativity displayed by Joe Higgins towards him in the wake of the controversy:
I told Joe about [the underdeclaration of the VAT] months before that and he didn’t seem near as perturbed about it…. it really only became a big issue for people like Joe when the media hounded him.
Higgins then contacted RTÉ and went on air to say that Wallace’s statements were “absolutely false” and that it was “absurd” to suggest that he had any advance knowledge of Mick Wallace’s dispute with Revenue.
Higgins said that the only conversation he had with Wallace was when he made a “sympathetic passing comment” to Wallace, who returned a “nondescript response”.
Higgins accused the Wexford TD of “attempting to dilute” his own problems and to undermine Higgins’ own name. He said he resented any attemot to association him with “Mick Wallace’s tax evasion”.
Presenter Marian Finucane said she didn’t believe that Wallace had been implying that Higgins was in any way involved with his tax affairs.
Independent TD John Halligan has this evening said that he felt in no way pressurised by the media to condemn Mick Wallace over the issue. Both Halligan and Wallace were members of the Technical Group.
“Following the revelations about Deputy Wallace’s tax affairs, I made a conscientious decision to call on Deputy Wallace to resign and was indeed one of the first members of the Technical Group to do so,” said Halligan.
He said that he could “catgorically state” that he “in no way felt hounded by the media to make a statement in relation to Deputy Wallace”.
On hiring a hitman
Wallace also revisited a story he first revealed in a Business and Finance interview in 2005. He said that a Dublin contractor who owed him £20,000 told him go to hell and that the builder said “we don’t give a f***” when Wallace demanded his money.
The TD then said he then “met a fella in a pub” who said he could help him to get the cash back.
The ‘debt collector’ said that with the use of a gun he could probably have his money to him within a week. Wallace then mentioned his hitman plan to a an acquaintance who worked with the builder in question, and he soon had the bulk of the money back in his possession.
He said today that he wouldn’t have gone so far as to send a gunman to the contractor’s door.
On Clare Daly
We’re just good friends.
On Marian Finucane
Someone asked me one time if I was having an affair with you Marian.
On his company
It’s dying a very slow death in the public domain.
- Additional reporting by Christine Bohan