Mick Wallace's VAT statement
Sir, – Muireann Hourihane poses the question “Is there not one member of the Dáil that has the moral courage to . . . declare that in falsifying his tax returns Mick Wallace did wrong?” (June 15th). Surely the answer is obvious? It is Mick Wallace. He stated, among other things, that what he did was wrong. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Andrew Davidson’s letter (June 14th) suggests we “applaud the up-front Mick Wallace” for supposedly bringing his wrong-doing to public notice and quotes the Lord’s Prayer to make his point about forgiveness. I would suggest an alternative quote from the gospel of Matthew that Jesus made on the subject of tax-paying: “Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I am unsympathetic to Mick Wallace and his announcement that he will turn over half of his Dáil salary to pay off the VAT he owes the State. Why didn’t he immediately do this upon election over a year ago? Even more than this, the implication of the pats on his back by members of the Technical Group strongly suggests that other TDs still think it should be one law for them and another law for the rest of us.
Wouldn’t it be fun if just one – just one – TD or Senator would do the honourable thing and resign when their misbehaviour is revealed (clearly, it’s too much to ask for them not to misbehave in the first place)? It’s all very well saying that people are concentrating too much on the little players, such as Mick Wallace, and ignoring the bigger problems in our political system – but those bigger problems are caused by constantly allowing the smaller ones to go unaddressed and unpunished.
It’s okay to break the law so long as your electorate thinks you’re a “nice guy” or someone who has done good things for his or her constituency. Well, it’s not okay. When does enough truly become enough? I’m running out of people to vote for.
I can’t vote for Fine Gael because they lied about what they would do if they were elected. I can’t vote for Fianna Fáil because, well . . . you know. I can’t vote for Labour because they are facilitating Fine Gael’s policies. I can’t vote for any of the Independents because the importance of keeping the Technical Group intact was clearly more important to them than doing the right thing.
None of this is all right, none of this is fair, and if Mick Wallace gets away with it then it is more than clear that again, as so often in this country, only lip service is being paid to the concept of probity in politics and public life. I despair. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The chairman of the Dáil Committee on Members’ Interests is rightly concerned that the committee has jurisdiction to investigate Deputy Wallace’s conduct regarding his tax affairs. Yet he has simultaneously taken the first step in the committee’s investigation by asking Mr Wallace to authorise the Revenue Commissioners to correspond directly with the committee. If the chairman were to ask the Attorney General whether the committee has the required constitutional jurisdiction to carry out any investigation of this “matter of general public importance”, the answer will surely be in accordance with the outcome of the recent referendum.
On October 27th last, in the Referendum on the Thirtieth Amendment of the Constitution, a substantial majority of the voters (53.3 per cent) denied to the Houses of the Oireachtas the express power to conduct inquiries in a manner provided for by law, into any matter stated by the House or Houses concerned to be of general public importance and, in doing so, to make findings of fact about any person’s conduct.
If Mr Wallace’s non-payment of VAT (€2.1m agreed by the Revenue Commissioners) is a matter of general public importance, and it surely must be, then it cannot be inquired into by the Houses of the Oireachtas. Nor, to avoid prejudicing the outcome of any inquiry that might arise, Mr Wallace’s conduct should not be commented on by members of the Oireachtas.
That the committee may investigate Deputy Wallace’s conduct and suspend him from the Dáil for a month (as some commentators have suggested will likely happen) is surely unacceptable to the people who voted in the referendum.
Instead, the Oireachtas must bring in any required legislation and ensure that the proper investigative and judicial authorities implement the legislation. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I would like to nominate Mary Glennon’s letter (June 15th) as a candidate for the letter of the year. In simple, plain language Ms Glennon despairs of the antics of some of our politicians and members of the public who fail to condemn wrongdoing by some members of the Dáil. As Ms Glennon says, “If we keep electing politicians who think expediency comes before honesty and truth we will never get out of this mess”.
There seems to be a rogue gene in the Irish DNA which, in some individuals, is activated and attracted by dishonest behaviour. I am no medic, but surely the antidote for this “condition” is firm, and resolute action by the relevant authorities before we have an outbreak of epidemic proportions resulting in the re-election of known wrongdoers to the Dáil. Ahem!
Instead, what we get is a Government hiding behind the smokescreen of due process. Is there nobody in the Cabinet who is prepared to clean-up the Augean stables in Kildare Street? – Yours, etc,