Whips propose Wallace be given speaking time on tax issue today


PARTY WHIPS at Leinster House have recommended that Independent TD Mick Wallace be given speaking time in the Dáil today to make a statement about the tax affairs of his construction company.

The matter was dealt with “quite quickly” at a meeting of the whips last night without any disagreement, sources said.

It was expected the request would be granted by the Government and that it would emerge whether or not other TDs would be allowed to speak on the issue.

The most likely time for the Wexford deputy to speak is after the Order of Business, between 11am and noon, but another time may be chosen. The Dáil Committee on Members’ Interests also recommended that he be given speaking time.

The committee wrote to Deputy 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,” Deputy 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 Deputy Wallace to the Dáil or a debate on a motion of censure, Deputy 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 Ceann Comhairle Mr Barrett and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin about a Wallace statement, ended with Deputy Barrett suspending the Dáil sitting.

Later, Deputy 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.