Astonishment in chamber as Mick socks it to the tourists


AS IF cheating on his VAT isn’t bad enough, Mick Wallace put his foot in it again on Wednesday afternoon when his behaviour in the Dáil chamber knocked the socks off astonished spectators in the Visitors’ Gallery.

Avril (full name supplied), who was on a tour of Leinster House with a group from Wexford, was so annoyed she rang The Irish Times upon her return. She sets the scene: “Brendan Howlin was answering questions. Not many TDs were in the chamber, but the public gallery was fairly full – there were 16 of us and a few other groups. Tourists from America and Europe were sitting over on the other side.”

And what happened?

“The lady next to me gave me a nudge and said: ‘Look at this’. We saw Mick Wallace reach underneath his seat and pull out a pair of shoes. Then he stuck his feet up on the ledge in full view of everyone. We were aghast.”

Perhaps he was changing into more comfortable footwear?

“No. He was in his stocking feet.” Colour of socks, by any chance? “Oh yes, they were grey. He was in no hurry to remove his feet. It was so vivid,” recalls Avril.

“He put one shoe on, then he said something to the person beside him, before pulling on the other one. The tourists opposite had a bird’s eye view. What an impression to take back home.

“It was such an incredible thing to see and then somebody said: ‘He sat through those proceedings without his shoes’. It was so rude. The ladies in our group couldn’t believe it. It was just such a disrespectful thing to do.”

Avril, who is from England but has lived in Ireland for nearly 40 years, says she enjoyed her tour of Leinster House and learned a lot. The sight though of her local TD flinging his legs in the air like he was something out of the Folies Bergère was an image she didn’t expect to see.

“I think if it happened in the English parliament he would be marched out immediately.”

Apropos Deputy Wallace, certain members of the fourth estate had contemplated but decided against running a book on what time he would turn on the waterworks during his mea culpa. He has a track record in this area. Observers reckoned Thursday marked the third time he has gone all emotional while addressing the Dáil. Now, imagine it was a female TD . . .