Wallace to surrender half salary

 

Independent TD Mick Wallace is making a statement in the Dáil about the tax affairs of his construction company.

Describing how his company MJ Wallace Ltd fell into serious cashflow difficulties after banks "pulled the plug" on one of his development projects, Mr Wallace said there was never an intention that the monies owed to the Revenue would not be paid.

Mr Wallace said he understood that many people suffering under "vicious austerity" were upset by his statement last week that he would not be able to pay back the €2 million owed to Revenue after his company under-declared its VAT liability.

He said this had not been a "cavalier" comment, but rather a statement of fact. He further stated that his own personal tax affairs were in order and that his company had paid all its tax liabilities for 20 years before it found itself in its recent financial difficulty. The manner in which the VAT had been dealt with was an "error of judgment", the TD said.

Mr Wallace told the Dáil that as a gesture of solidarity with the citizens of the country he would organise that half his Dáil salary would go towards paying the VAT liability of M&J Wallace Ltd with Revenue.

Mr Wallace said he would not resign his seat as it belonged to the people of Wexford who had elected him and he would strive to serve them. He said he had received enormous support from his constituents when he returned to Wexford last weekend.

Government chief whip Paul Kehoe confirmed this morning Mr Wallace had been allocated 15 minutes to make a statement  at the end of Dáil business.

Party whips agreed last night to give the Wexford TD time to address the House.

The Dáil Committee on Members’ Interests had also recommended that he be given speaking time.

The committee wrote to Mr Wallace yesterday, seeking information on the tax affairs of M J Wallace Ltd. Committee chairman Thomas Pringle said they needed this information to decide whether it has jurisdiction to investigate the deputy’s conduct. 

The committee met at noon yesterday on foot of a request from Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett to look into the Wallace case.

"We have today decided to write to Deputy Wallace and to M J Wallace Ltd asking them to give us some information in relation to the timelines of when certain actions took place," Mr Pringle told journalists.

He said this was, "in order that we can decide whether they took place while Deputy Wallace was a member of the House, so that we can decide whether we have a remit that we can investigate this".

He added: "We have also requested M J Wallace Ltd to authorise the Revenue Commissioners to correspond directly with the committee."

The Donegal Independent TD said the committee hoped to reconvene early next week to assess the information. Asked what this meant for a possible statement by Mr Wallace to the Dáil or a debate on a motion of censure, Mr Pringle said it was a matter for the Government and the party whips.

"If the committee decides it can investigate this matter, it would be better that there would be no motion of censure put before the House while the committee is processing through the inquiry that may take place," he added.

He said the "legal advice was very clear" that the committee had no role in relation to events before the election last year. 

Sharp exchanges earlier between the Ceann Comhairle and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin about a Wallace statement ended with Mr Barrett suspending the Dáil sitting.

Later, Mr Wallace acknowledged the Ceann Comhairle had acted correctly in rejecting his request for speaking time under standing order 44 and asked if he could apply again. Mr Barrett suggested that he make a request to the Government.

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