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Friday 22 September 2017

Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan questions suitability of Mick Wallace to serve in Dail

Mick Wallace,Independent deputy for Wexford at Leinster House yesterday.Pic Tom Burke 1/2/12
Mick Wallace,Independent deputy for Wexford at Leinster House yesterday.Pic Tom Burke 1/2/12

Lyndsey Telford

FINE Gael's Charlie Flanagan has questioned the suitability of Wexford TD Mick Wallace to continue serving in the Dail.

Mr Wallace insisted today that he is fit to serve in the Dail despite making false tax declarations to Revenue and landing a €2.1m settlement.



The Fine Gael party chairman also called on the Independent TD to clarify his position.



"Deputy Wallace's admission today that his company's €2.1m settlement with the Revenue Commissioners is unlikely to ever be paid raises serious questions about Deputy Wallace's suitability to serve as an Oireachtas member," he said.



"It sets an alarming precedent when a member of the House admits to having knowingly filed an inaccurate VAT return.



"The idea that his company - of which he is the only director - is insolvent, but that he himself remains tax compliant, is playing ducks and drakes with the conventions of Leinster House.



"I would urge Deputy Wallace to discuss his position with the appropriate authorities."



The Wexford deputy knowingly gave wrong information to the tax chiefs to save his failing construction firm.



"I acknowledge what I did was wrong but I did it in good faith," said Mr Wallace.



"I really did believe that I would be able to pay the VAT at a later stage."



He said he deliberately under-declared VAT owed by the company MJ Wallace Ltd but hoped to pay it back at a later date, insisting he thought it was the right thing to do at the time.



The Independent TD attributed his company's problems to the economic crisis, which had become too much for his business in 2008 and 2009.



"I didn't declare all the VAT I owed because I would have been put out of business there and then," he said.



Mr Wallace said he was trying to save his apartment sales company and the jobs of the 60 people working for him.



In an agreement with Revenue, the company was found to have under-declared around €1.4ms in VAT.



But with interest and penalties piled on, it now owes some €2.1m.



Mr Wallace is not personally liable to make the payment. He said it is the company's debt and as it is now insolvent, the bill may never be settled.



When asked if he believes he is still fit to serve in Parliament, the TD told RTE: "I believe I am."



The 2.1 million euros settlement will be published on the Revenue's quarterly list of tax defaulters next week.



ACC Bank secured a 19.4 million euros judgment against MJ Wallace Ltd last November and a receiver was appointed over the company's assets.



Mr Wallace said he has been threatened with bankruptcy a number of times over the last year, but insisted he will fight any such moves.



A TD who is declared bankrupt is required by law to resign from the Dail.

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