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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.
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 08 Apr 2011
“I can’t fuckin’ believe you didn’t ask me about the shirt!” laughs Mick Wallace as Hot Press turns the recorder off at the conclusion of this interview.
The newly elected Teachta Dála for Wexford provoked some sartorial criticism for showing up at the first sitting of the 31st Dáil wearing a bright pink shirt (in honour of the football squad of his beloved Palermo). The long white Robert Plant-ish curls and blue globe earrings were also deemed somewhat inappropriate. Not that Wallace particularly gave a fuck.
Loud shirts aside, Wallace has been regarded as a colourful character on the Irish cultural landscape for many years. Hot Press interviews often end with the question ‘what is your motto in life?’ but there’s no need to ask the outspoken property developer his. The logo of his company Wallace Construction, highly visible on every site they work on, is a football with the legend ‘WORK HARD, PLAY HARD’ sprayed around it (shorted from his full length motto ‘Life is Short. Work Hard. Play Hard. Love Football’).
An avid soccer fan, Wallace has coached countless League of Ireland youth teams in his native Wexford for many years, winning several championship titles. He’s even built a football stadium down there, reportedly shelling out €1.5 million of his own money to do so.
Although well regarded in the soccer leagues and the building trade for many years, Wallace first came to national attention around a decade ago when he began publicly expressing his political views by hanging massive banners from his building site hoardings, protesting the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the Iraq war, US foreign policy and the Lisbon Treaty, amongst various other concerns.
On February 4, while appearing on TV3’s Tonight With Vincent Browne, Wallace made the surprise announcement that he intended to contest the February 25 general election as an independent candidate. Following a whirlwind campaign, he eventually topped the poll with 13,329 votes.
We met at 10am on Tuesday, March 15, in his wine bar in the Italian Quarter on Lower Ormond Quay.