Unpaid workers concerned that lorries were removed before liquidator moved in – Darach MacDonald
Four lorries removed from a depot of failed cross-border haulage company Target Express were discovered on 31st August at isolated locations near the border in Co Monaghan. One of the lorries was parked at the home of a director of the trucking company, which was recently placed into liquidation with the loss of 398 jobs.
Former employees have confirmed that the lorries belonged to the fleet at the Clones depot and were removed after news of the company’s closure broke on 27th August, and before 30th August when the liquidators moved in.
The liquidators, Grant Thornton of Dublin, confirmed that they found nothing left in the company’s leased premises that could be used to pay off creditors, including the workers themselves, the Revenue Commissioners, suppliers and others.
However, the tractor unit of an articulated lorry which was owned by Target Express was parked in the yard adjacent to the Drumswords, Newbliss, Co. Monaghan home of Michelle Cunningham. She is the married daughter of Seamus McBrien, the managing director and founder of Target Express. Ms Cunningham is also a director of Target Express and was employed as its human resources manager.
At a nearby premises, three articulated lorries from the Target Express fleet were also concealed in a farmyard behind stacks of baled silage. One of these lorries had a pull-along extra trailer attached. The vehicles all bear the name, logo and livery of Target Express.
The unit at Michelle Cunningham’s home was parked behind a group of adjacent buildings, including an office for an automotive components business. None of the vehicles was visible to passersby. However, former workers at the Clones depot had been tipped off about the concealed lorries after they were told that they must wait between four and six months for their outstanding pay and redundancy payments from the state’s guarantee fund.
At the time of going to press, Michelle Cunningham was not available to take calls seeking her comment about the ownership of the lorries parked at and near her home. Of course, there is no indication that Ms Cunningham has behaved in any way unethically or illegally.
With the premises now secured by the liquidators, there are unconfirmed reports that expensive servicing equipment – including a ‘rolling road’ machine and two ‘lifts’ used for lorry repairs – are also missing from the Clones depot.