Muff’s ‘Big Jim’ back in business

Muff businessman, Jim McLaughlin, has confirmed that he is re-opening his filling station. With rumours circulating as to the reasons for its closure in the run up to Christmas Mr. McLaughlin went public, one of the few to do so, to confirm to the ‘Journal’ that it was the Revenue Authorities which had sealed his petrol pumps.

Speaking yesterday Mr McLaughlin said he would be opening his business on February 22nd.

And he was upbeat: “It’s been a very tough thirteen weeks of negotiation with the Revenue people - I had intended to open the first week in January - but I finally got it sorted this week. While I accept that it was my fault I’m still not happy that my business was closed. Basically, I have been left with the clothes on my back but I’m getting on with it.”

He added: “I’m hoping that all my old customers will come back and support me. This is, at least, a bit of good news in Inishowen - a business is re-opening not closing.”

The closure of Mr. McLaughlin’s business was controversial with the Muff man going public because, he said, there were ‘malicious rumours’ circulating that he had been selling doctored fuel. That was never the case.

The Revenue Customs in a statement to the Journal at the time also made it clear that the closure was purely a revenue issue: “Revenue Customs Service seized fuel from a filling station in Muff last week. It was operating illegally - this is, without a licence. The licensing year runs from July 1st until June 30 irrespective of when the licence is taken out.”

Hitting out at the move to close down his business - he described it in our last edition before Christmas as a ‘draconian decision’ - he said he had 25 tax clearance certificates in a row and would have addressed the obtaining of a 26th so there was no need to shut up his shop. “It would have been sorted, ‘ he explained.

Mr. McLaughlin said he accepted he had played a major role in not sorting the issue earlier but said far from helping people in the current climate it seemed to him they were being targeted by authorities.

Pointing out that in 2005 he had 60 people employed but that the economic slowdown had seriously affected his business, he went on: “Everyone is struggling but instead of giving us a bit of latitude they (the Revnue authorities) are coming down on us like a ton of bricks.”

However, he was in much more upbeat mood yesterday.

“It will be small businesses like mine that will get our economy up and running again. We need a chance. I’m willing to put as much effort as needed to get my business back to where it was. I’m looking forward to the challenge!”