Mick Wallace earned undeclared money as ‘adviser’ to wine bar business

No ownership of wine bars or a vineyard was declared in the declaration of financial interests that the TD made when he joined the European Parliament in 2019

Mick Wallace earned up to €499 a month in a previously undeclared position as an “adviser” to a chain of wine bars and restaurants alongside his salary as a TD and member of the European Parliament, according to a revised declaration of his financial interests.

The revised declaration was submitted after Mr Wallace came under pressure within his own Left political group over a video he recorded with a hard-right Italian MEP, in which the Wexford politician was introduced as a producer of wine in Piedmont and claimed to “have three wine bars in Dublin”.

No ownership of wine bars or a vineyard was declared in the declaration of financial interests that Mr Wallace was obliged to make under code of conduct rules when he joined the European Parliament in the summer of 2019.

Mr Wallace also declared “nil” occupations, remunerated positions, land or property in his declaration to the register of interests of members of Dáil Éireann while he was serving as a TD in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

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However, in a revised declaration of financial interests submitted to the European Parliament this week, Mr Wallace states that “during the three-year period” before taking up office as an MEP in 2019 he earned between €1 and €499 a month in a position of “adviser” to Wallace Calcio Ltd, alongside his salary as a TD.

The declaration also states that he continues to earn €1-€499 as an adviser to the company, in work that is described as “regular remunerated activity which I undertake alongside the exercise of my office” as MEP.

The leadership of Mr Wallace’s Left group in the parliament are set to meet the Wexford politician to hear his explanation for the apparent omission in his initial declaration of financial interests, which is politically sensitive at a time when the Left group is calling for high standards of transparency in the wake of the Qatargate scandal.

Mr Wallace is a member of the parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committee, which deals with legislation affecting the catering and hospitality industry.

Co-chair of the group Manon Aubry has said that an omission in declared financial interests would be “unacceptable” and not “worthy of our political group”.

The manner in which the issue arose, through a video made with an MEP of the hard-right Lega group which is an arch political opponent of the Left, has landed badly in a political group where tensions towards Mr Wallace are already high due to his controversial interventions on Ukraine.

Mr Wallace did not respond to emailed questions, including as to whether he would submit a supplement to the register of members’ interests of Dáil Éireann to declare income received from Wallace Calcio Ltd while a TD.

Mr Wallace stated that he had a 40 per cent ownership stake in the company in his 2015 declaration to the Dáil register of interests, but declared no income from it or ownership stake in the years following. Company filings for 2017-2018 show its ownership to be split between Mr Wallace’s niece, former partner, and three Italian nationals.

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O'Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times