Technical group not to respond on Wallace

Mon, Jun 11, 2012, 01:00

THE DÁIL’S 16-member technical group will not be issuing an agreed collective response to tomorrow’s statement to the House by Independent TD Mick Wallace.

The Wexford TD announced on Saturday that he had asked Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett for an opportunity to make the address on his €2.1 million settlement with the Revenue Commissioners for underdeclaration of VAT. He also said he would not be travelling to the Euro 2012 football championship in Poland.

Technical group chief whip Catherine Murphy, Independent TD for Kildare North, said there were no plans for a formal group response to Mr Wallace’s statement.

“Members may comment on an individual basis or a number may come together to issue a statement,” she added.

Pressure has been mounting on the group to take a stronger stand against Mr Wallace since its brief statement last Thursday that it did not “condone” his behaviour and that he had done wrong and should be accountable.

Minister of State for Finance Brian Hayes claimed yesterday that some members of the technical group “have been been effectively hiding him over the course of the past few days”.

In an interview on the RTÉ radio programme This Week, Mr Hayes said Mr Wallace was telling people not to pay the household charge, while being clear he had effectively defrauded taxpayers.

The apparent early political support for Mr Wallace among his technical group colleagues began to fade at the weekend, with some of them calling for his resignation from the Dáil.

United Left Alliance Tipperary South TD Seamus Healy said: “I believe that Deputy Wallace’s position is incompatible with his continued membership of Dáil Éireann and that he should resign.”

Independent Waterford TD John Halligan said that if a Government or Fianna Fáil TD was involved in a similar controversy, he would be calling for his resignation from the Dáil.

“So I have to be consistent and call on Mick to resign, although I get on with him and like him personally,” he added.

Independent Kerry South TD Tom Fleming said the current Dáil was supposed to turn over a new leaf.

“I believe his membership of the House is untenable,” he added.

Independent Tipperary South TD Mattie McGrath called on Mr Wallace to withdraw from the technical group.

Mr McGrath revealed on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme last night that many of his technical group colleagues had made it clear to Mr Wallace that it would be “very distasteful” if he travelled to Poland.

On the same programme, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said Mr Wallace may need to give the Revenue Commissioners clearance to make a statement on his circumstances because of legislation relating to taxpayer confidentiality.

The Dáil Committee on Members’ Interests will decide on Wednesday if it can investigate the matter.