Sinn Féin are disciplined when handling trouble. But Mackin’s chaotic approach to handling finances is hardly new. In 2005, Horwath Bastow Charlton accountants who had been auditors to one of seven of Mackin associated companies (six were wound up that year) admitted:
“We are unable to establish whether proper books and records were kept by the company and we have not obtained all the information and explanations which we considered necessary.”
Several of those businesses had a very high cash turnover. This 2005 report in the Independent has some interesting detail, and in particular notes a tax haven link in, of all places, the British Virgin Islands:
Businesses linked to Sinn Fein moneybags, Des Mackin, have all suddenly lodged up-to-date accounts in the Companies Office. Many of them are ultimately owned in the British Virgin Islands and controlled by well-known Belfast businessman Peter Curistan.
Des Mackin, Sinn Fein’s head of finance, is a director of a multitude of troubled companies, many of which failed to lodge accounts in recent years.
Most of these are located in the Parnell Centre in North Dublin’s inner city and are, in the main, cash businesses.
Many have not traded for several years, but show heavy deficits running into several millions. At least one auditor’s report contains a reference to the company being “insolvent”.
Yesterday Mr Mackin, who was convicted for IRA membership in the Eighties, insisted that the sudden lodgment of the returns had nothing to do with the peace process or the IRA’s declaration of disarmament. The accounts had been lodged because “it is the law”.
Among the Mackin companies which had failed to file for several years are Duffield Enterprises, which owns a pool hall. The audit report describes the outfit as “insolvent” but the directors – Des Mackin and his wife Mary – state that the company will have adequate resources to continue.
Duffield Enterprises is a cash business. The auditors, John Kinsella and Company, point out that: €240,427 of the company’s recorded turnover comprises cash sales, over which there was no system of control on which we could rely . . .”
Another company where the Sinn Fein chief is a director, Strike Four (a restaurant business with a registered office in the Parnell Centre), has revealed a deficit of €2.5m.
He oversaw the establishment of Research Services Ireland which over 10 years, enabled 36 different Sinn Féin MLAs to claim about £700,000 through Stormont expenses to pay Research Services Ireland, with no evidence any work was ever carried out.
The party never explained how two of its modestly salaried MLAs were able to find the guts of £300,000 to pay out in a libel case they lost against Declan Gormley in a year when it reported a turn over of around £1 million to the Electoral Commission.
There are a lot of questions arising from Mr Mackin’s term as Finance Director which go far beyond the limited terms of his private finance. Mackin is no ordinary member, and his erratic approach to finance has been in the public domain for 20 years.
Yesterday, the Taoiseach called for a debate in the Dail, hinting that there have been inquiries for less in the past…
I strongly believe that accountability should not just be for Government parties,” Mr Varadkar said. “This is public money and public money needs to be minded. Our electoral laws underpin our democracy and must be upheld.
This matter should get the attention of the House and we should hear statements from the president of Sinn Féin and the party treasurer as to what exactly has been going on here.
This could get even more interesting…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty