The Revenue Commissioners has defended its enforcement action in the case of Target Express, which ceased trading yesterday with the loss of 390 jobs.

Last Thursday, Revenue attached the company's bank accounts and as a result they could not pay staff on Friday.

In addition, the tax authorities wrote to key Target Express customers instructing them to pay any monies due directly to Revenue and not to the company.

The owner of Target Express earlier strongly criticised Revenue for effectively freezing his bank accounts over a debt of less than €500,000.

Seamus McBrien said the company had paid Revenue €214,000 last Monday and had offered to pay a further €80,000 by Friday.

Revenue said it "only pursues enforcement options after specific engagement with the business. Enforcement options like liquidation, bankruptcy and attachment are only used as a last resort in cases where the debt problem is serious and intractable".

Prior to enforcement action by Revenue, it said the taxpayer or business will have been informed that continuing non-compliance is likely to result in enforcement action.

Revenue Chairman Josephine Feehily is quoted in a statement as saying that they want to help viable business and taxpayers who want to pay their taxes, but cannot do so in the short term.

She says that they can and do put alternative payment arrangements in place to help such customers through difficult periods.

However, she warns that businesses and individuals must engage with Revenue at the earliest possible opportunity - and that such engagement must be realistic.

Meanwhile, the UK tax authorities have said they could not comment on the tax affairs of the Northern Ireland operation of Target Express.


Meanwhile, 18 former employees at the company’s Cork depot have begun a sit-in protest.

Former employee Tom Cullen said they were angry at the lack of information from the company and Revenue.

He also voiced concern that politicians contacted by Mr McBrien had failed to intervene with Revenue.

Mr Cullen said no freight was being released from the depot.

Ten former workers from Galway were due to join the Cork protest.

Former workers are also staging a sit-in in Limerick, while there was a protest outside the gates of the Dublin depot.

Elsewhere, some of the vans in the Target fleet were removed from its headquarters this afternoon by the vehicle owners, Northgate.

A number of vans were driven out and some were removed on low-loader vehicles.

A businessman, who was using Target Express for product delivery, also arrived at the premises in an effort to get his produce back.

A number of employees, who declined to be interviewed, told RTÉ they were informed the company was ceasing to trade yesterday at 5pm.

Hauliers warn several big companies could close

The Irish Road Haulage Association has warned that several more large transport companies could go out of business before the end of the year.

It said the rising cost of fuel and the availability of laundered fuel in the Irish market had brought the crisis to a "tipping point".

IRHA president Eoin Gavin called for the introduction of a rebate on fuel duty for hauliers, similar to those available in Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Gavin said the measure would be tax neutral because the cost would be offset by the increased number of trucks that would fill up in Ireland rather than overseas.

He said this would allow hauliers to compete with rivals who are using low-cost laundered fuel.

Mr Gavin said customers "at the moment are relying on illegal fuel to transport Irish exports, and that is a disgrace for this economy".

He said the price of fuel, which traditionally represented 30% of hauliers' cost base, now represents 50%.

Mr Gavin also claimed the association knows of "five or six other big companies that are going to be gone before Christmas".