There has been a mixed reaction to the comments of controversial developer turned TD Mick Wallace, who declared at the weekend that he had threatened the use of a hitman in order to secure payment from an outstanding debtor who was refusing to pay.
A figure who could rarely be described as dull, Wallace comments raised eyebrows on Marian Finucane´s Saturday morning radio show. Wallace claimed that he had intimated to a third party that he was going to "definitely get the money back" and that the information was subsequently passed on to the firm who owed him €20,000. Wallace stated that he received a call from the company two days later offering to settle the debt. For many, the story is an amusing tale about a "cute whore" type figure, using rather unique means to secure what was due.The crash of the Celtic Tiger laid bare the type of race-to-the-bottom ethos which operated in the construction sector, and stories of people and companies refusing to pay for services received became depressingly prevalent. Many will see Wallace´s actions as a justified course of action that ensured he wouldn´t be swindled. Nonetheless, Wallace´s assertion that he enlisted the advice of a local debt collector on how best to proceed is at best lamentable. Critics will point out that in an era where organised crime is becoming increasingly prevalent, the tacit endorsement of that type of behaviour by an elected representative is extremely reckless, regardless how benign or unintentionally offensive the anecdote was meant to be. Wallace seems to have had trouble in making the transition from a local "man-of-the people" to an official that represents the interests of the entire nation.While he initially seemed to be well received by the public, revelations about how he withheld revenue from the Revenue Commissioners has caused many to reconsider his perception as an "honest Joe" type of figure. Wallace survived that particular scandal, and it is unlikely that his latest remarks will cause him too many problems in the long term. However,perhaps it is time he recognised his duty and the weight his messages and statements can carry. Gun crime has become a very serious issue for many communities across ireland. Wallace should be orchestrating prescriptive measures to the problem instead exacerbating it.