independent

Saturday 21 September 2019

Sub-contractor owed €28,000 'disgusted' by Wallace speech

FATHER FEARS HOME WILL BE REPOSSESSED UNLESS MONEY IS PAID

SAOIRSE MCGARRIGLE

A WEXFORD sub-contractor who is owed tens of thousands by Mick Wallace's company and now faces losing his home says he reluctantly came forward with his story because of the disgust he felt on hearing the TD's recent speech to the Dail.

Father-of-one Ioan Hotca (34) of Whiterock Heights in Wexford town owes Ulster Bank €9,281.16 but is out of work on social welfare and could face eviction from his home.

The Romanian-born painter and tiler says he invoiced M&J Wallace Ltd for €80,000 as a result of tiling work carried out on four separate projects in Dublin, including work at the Amnesty International office on Fleet Street in Dublin.

He claims he then agreed to halve the bill when it became clear that the company was unable to pay the full amount, as he ' understood Wallace's difficult financial situation and 'what it feels like to run out of cash'.

He says he reached an agreement on monthly repayments from M&J Wallace Ltd of between €500 and €1,500, depending on how much the company was able to pay. But after the payments ceased, a letter dated December 1, 2010, informed Mr Hotca that the outstanding €28,000 would not be paid as the company had 'sustained massive losses and have ran (sic) out of cash'.

Mr Hotca, who fell into arrears on his mortgage almost two years ago, says he was reluctant to speak out in the media about his predicament as he had considered Mick Wallace a friend.

'I could have done this a couple of years ago when it all started but I didn't want to resort to this', he says. 'It feels a bit like betraying a friend.' He stresses that initially he and Mick Wallace had an excellent working relationship.

'I didn't call him Deputy Wallace and he didn't call me Mr Hotca. We were on a first name basis', he says.

' Things were great to begin with, and I had a lot of respect for him.'

'I want to make it clear I don't hate the man, I even considered him a friend,' he says.

When asked why he had chosen to speak out last week he expressed his disgust at Deputy Wallace's recent speech in the Dail in which the TD pledged to pay half his Dail salary to the Revenue Commisssioners to go towards paying back an M&J Wallace Ltd debt of €2.1m in under-declared tax and penalties.

' You can do all this (repay the Revenue Commissioners) for the good of the country, but there's no point if you are kicking the small ones either unintentionally or intentionally while doing it,' says Mr Hotca who believes that if Deputy Wallace is in a position to settle his debt with the Revenue Commissioners, then he should also be able to repay him.

'And he gave himself and his son a pay rise even when he said the company had no money,' he adds.

According to Mr Hotca even if Mick Wallace were to settle his bill for €28,000, he would still suffer significant losses because that amount would not even cover the costs which the sub-contractor incurred while carrying out the tiling work.

He owed a substantial amount of money to suppliers and to men who worked for him while completing the projects for M & J Wallace Ltd.

'I had to pay the money I owed to these people,' he says.

And he was forced to come to an arrangement with some tile suppliers whereby he carried out work for them free of charge as a way of repaying them money owed for materials used on the Wallace contract.

When asked had he considered returning to Romania because of his difficult financial position, he responds: 'I can't just up sticks and go. I could leave all the bills and say f *** it let's go, but I can't. I haven't got that choice.'

Mr Hotca, who is an Irish citizen, has lived in Ireland since he was 19 and describes it as his ' home away from home.'

He says that he is so eager to retain his home in Wexford that in the recent weeks he went to Deputy Wallace and asked him to give him a job in one of his restaurants as he is 'willing to do anything' to secure a fixed income. But, he says, Deputy Wallace told him that he had no work for him. He even went as far as to ask Wallace for a digger which he keeps at the Wexford Youths home grounds in Crossabeg.

'I asked him could I take it and sell it to clear some of the bill but he told me that if he did that he would have to buy a new one for himself.'

While his biggest fear is that his home will be repossessed in the near future, he hopes it 'won't get to that point' if he can collect the money which he is owed.

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