Belfast Telegraph

State to pay sacked staff's wages

Sacked staff at the tax defaulting firm Target Express are to get unpaid wages and redundancy from the state, it has been confirmed.

In meetings with former staff at eight depots nationwide, liquidators assured those left out of work and out of pocket that they will receive some pay-off.

Employees will get up to 600 euro for wages and statutory redundancy - two weeks' pay for every week of service up to 600 euro a week - from the Department of Social Protection.

Meetings with representatives from the liquidator Grant Thornton were held at depots in Dublin, Wexford, Athlone, Carlow, Tralee, Clones, Cork and Limerick where Galway staff also attended.

The disposal and payment of some of the debts will be overseen by Steve Tennant and Michael McAteer of the accountancy firm. They have spoken to Target Express founder and chief executive Seamus McBrien on the phone but are expected to hold face-to-face talks once employees have been dealt with.

The liquidators said they were treating workers as top priority and briefed them on entitlements and benefits during the meetings and helped with forms and assured them P45s would be dispatched if not already received, a spokeswoman said.

The High Court order to appoint a liquidator was made to safeguard assets after the business ceased trading over non-payment of tax to the Revenue Commissioners. Management had told staff that the Revenue had frozen bank accounts, including a pot of 154,000 euro for wages.

Mr McBrien claimed Revenue refused to strike a deal over a debt of less than half a million euro. Revenue has refused to discuss the Target Express tax liabilities specifically. But it defended its action, saying that cases are only referred for enforcement where a taxpayer or business fails to pay tax that is due.

Target Express, the main sponsor of Tyrone GAA, had depots across the north and south of Ireland and forecast a profit of 1.6 million euro this year.

Mr McBrien maintains that his firm paid one million euro to tax chiefs in the last six to eight weeks and another 214,000 euro on Monday. He claimed that another 80,000 euro was ordered by Wednesday and that his account was frozen on Thursday, despite the money being promised by Friday.

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