Whips to agree view on Wallace speech
PARTY WHIPS will today agree how to proceed with Independent TD Mick Wallace’s request to speak in the Dáil about his €2.1 million settlement with the Revenue Commissioners for underdeclaration of VAT.
The Wexford deputy, who stood down from the technical group yesterday, was not 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.”
She described her brother as having been “very quiet, very subdued” at the weekend. However, she added: “I don’t think he’ll give up.”
Mr Wallace still hopes to address the chamber, despite Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett’s rejection yesterday of his appeal for time to make a personal statement today.
A spokesman in Mr Wallace’s constituency office said: “The Government can sanction time to speak. We’re hoping he’ll get permission to deliver a statement to the Dáil.”
Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe last night said the discussion would take place at lunchtime during a special meeting of party whips. “All options are being looked at at the moment. Government is considering all options,” Mr Kehoe said.
Under consideration is a motion of censure, such as was passed against the Independent North Tipperary TD Michael Lowry in the aftermath of the Moriarty tribunal.
Mr Wallace “voluntarily removed himself” from the technical group following a request from the 10 Independent members of the group, according to their whip Catherine Murphy, who spoke to Mr Wallace in Leinster House yesterday.
“I made it very clear to him that the issue of his tax affairs was a major cause of concern to the members of the technical group,” she said. “I talked to him directly face to face and I made it very clear, and he listened to what I had to say. He then said that he would give that very serious consideration . . . A couple of hours later he came back and he said that he was going to voluntarily step aside from the technical group.”
The five United Left Alliance representatives on the technical group were not involved, Ms Murphy said. She described the revelations about Mr Wallace as “very serious” but indicated she would not support a motion of censure against him.
“I would be very concerned about creating precedents. There was a motion of censure against Michael Lowry but that was after a tribunal that took 10 years and an issue that occurred while he was a public representative,” she said.
Ms Murphy said the public expected the issue would be discussed in Leinster House and said it was “very unfortunate” Mr Barrett had not been able to facilitate Mr Wallace’s request to address the Dáil. She said she had subsequently appealed to Mr Kehoe to schedule time to address the matter.
The Dáil Committee on Members’ Interests, chaired by technical group member Thomas Pringle, will hold a meeting tomorrow. Mr Pringle said it would take legal advice on whether or not it could investigate Mr Wallace.
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 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.