Kenny warns of Wallace censure
The Government “stands ready” to put together an all-party censure motion on Independent TD Mick Wallace’s tax affairs, the Dáil has heard.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “Deputy Wallace’s position is of the utmost seriousness, and I’m not going to say anything that might prejudice any case that may or may not be taken.”
A meeting of party whips has delayed any decision about a motion of censure against Mr Wallace until after another meeting tomorrow of the Members’ Interests Committee on the issue.
The Wexford TD, who had been in the Dáil chamber earlier during leaders' questions, was not present when the matter was raised during the Order of Business.
Mr Kenny told Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who requested a debate, that “the Constitution is quite clear in so far as membership of this House is concerned for persons elected by the people in a democratic election”.
“The Government stands ready if necessary to put together an all party motion on this matter,” the Taoiseach said, adding he hoped that when the Members’ Interests Committee looked at this issue, it would “be clear on its position”.
Mr Martin said it was a substantial matter. “Given the scale of the issue it does necessitate an opportunity for the members of the House to give their views.” The Fianna Fáil leader said the public’s view on the issue was “people must be seen to be treated equally by the agencies of the State”.
It was “somewhat surreal and unreal that everywhere else is discussing the issue, and there seems to be some difficulty in facilitating a discussion in this House”.
When Mr Martin said Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett had not accepted Mr Wallace’s request to make a personal statement, Mr Barrett said: “The request made to me was not in accordance with standing orders. It’s not that I turned down a request. It didn’t comply with standing orders. The matter has been refereed to the members’ interests committee.”
Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said there was a need for “every penny to be repaid”, but he said there was “also an issue of fairness to members of the Dáil”.
He said members of the technical group were in an “underhand and opportunistic way being targeted by right wing members of the media as if there was guilt by association”.
Last week The Irish Times revealed Mr Wallace’s construction firm made a €2.1 million settlement with the Revenue Commissioners arising from the failure of MJ Wallace Ltd to make full tax returns on apartment sales over a two-year period.
Mr Wallace, a Wexford TD, said he believed none of the money would be paid to Revenue because his company was insolvent and he was not personally liable. He cancelled his plan to travel to Poznan for the European Championships last week.
The Wexford deputy, who stood down from the technical group yesterday, has not been responding to media queries but his sister, Chrissie Harper said, “He’s gutted, gutted. It just means everything to him. His heart and soul is in the Dáil. He loves it.”
Earlier today the Fianna Fáil leader said he had a "fundamental problem" with someone "knowingly deceiving" the tax authorities, particularly in relation to VAT. Asked if Mr Wallace should therefore resign as a TD, Mr Martin said: "I don't think the two are tenable."
The Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes said today Mr Wallace was wrong to make a false VAT declaration but condemned attempts by some politicians and sections of the media to discredit those refusing to pay the household tax by linking the two issues.
"Mick Wallace took VAT from people buying apartments and failed to pay it over to the Revenue Commissioners. That is wrong," said spokesman Gregor Kerr. "However, there is no connection between that and the non-payment of the household tax by over 900,000 households, and attempts by some politicians and sections of the media to make such a connection are mischievous."