Mick Wallace to use 'leader's allowance' to fund research
INDEPENDENT TD Mick Wallace plans to use the €41,000 a year “leader’s allowance” he has begun claiming to fund research into “different issues that concern the people of Ireland”, he has said.
Mr Wallace has for the first time defended his decision to join other Independent deputies in claiming the allowance, which is untaxed and unvouched. “If I don’t claim it, when all the others do, I am at a disadvantage,” he said last night.
The Wexford TD also indicated on his Facebook page that he has no intention of resigning over his building company’s evasion of €1.4 million in taxes.
“Some people have said I should resign but I have got unbelievable encouragement from the people of Wexford and from all over Ireland to stay,” he said.
“I’m also aware that some sections of the media want me out of politics – surely a good reason to stand and fight for what I believe in.”
In recent months, Mr Wallace has begun claiming the allowance after forgoing it throughout 2011. This followed his decision in June to give up half his €92,000 salary as a TD to offset a tax debt as part of an agreed settlement with the Revenue Commissioners.
His decision to start claiming the controversial allowance provoked criticism from a number of his supporters, some of whom used his Facebook page to voice their anger.
Mr Wallace has now responded by confirming that he is availing of the allowance “just as 100 per cent of the other independents have done”.
“The money is not for my personal use but will be used mostly for research into different issues that concern the people of Ireland. If I don’t claim it, when all the others do, I am at a disadvantage,” he said.
Independents get the allowance directly because “as such they are leaders of their own party”, he said, before listing the amounts paid to parties in respect of their TDs.
“The 14 Sinn Féin TDs get €1,084,354 which works out at €77,453 each. The 37 Labour TDs get €1,789,783 which works out at €48,372 each. The 76 Fine Gael TDs get €2,678,403 which works out at €35,242 each. Why should I be the only TD in the Dáil not to avail of the same money to use to build a stronger platform?”
However, the money paid to party TDs goes into central funds and has to be accounted for. Independents get the allowance directly and do not have to account for how they spend it.
Mr Wallace pointed out that his expenses were among the lowest in the Dáil and said he had been taking half his wages since June “because of my company’s inability to pay a VAT liability”.
He could face a vote of censure when the Dáil resumes later this month but is unlikely to face prosecution over his acknowledged under-payment of VAT.
The reaction to his statement on Facebook was mixed; some posters expressed support for his frankness, while others called on him to resign and force a byelection.