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Saturday 20 September 2014

Smirking tax cheat Wallace 'has no respect' for peers

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

Published 17/10/2012 | 05:00

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TAX cheat Mick Wallace sat silently smirking as other Independent TDs lambasted him for having "no respect" when he rejoined their loose alliance, against the wishes of many of them.

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The Wexford TD is again causing uproar in the Technical Group, with group chairman Finian McGrath resigning over Mr Wallace's controversial return.

Mr Wallace is back in the Technical Group having left in June, when he was listed as a tax defaulter.

He was named as owing €2.1m to the Revenue Commissioners, after he had made a false declaration in respect of his M&J Wallace construction company.

The Technical Group -- which gives members greater Dail speaking rights -- holds a weekly meeting at 12.30pm every Tuesday, when they divide up speaking time for the week ahead.

It is understood Mr McGrath, as well as group whip Catherine Murphy and Dublin South TD Shane Ross, were already in the room when Mr Wallace arrived.

It is believed initial words were exchanged, as Mr McGrath asked Mr Wallace what "the hell" he was doing there.

In turn, the disgraced TD in turn asked to be given a break.

After other TDs arrived, Mr McGrath made a statement before the meeting got down to its main business, and strongly criticised Mr Wallace.

His criticism mainly focused on a number of radio interviews Mr Wallace has done in recent weeks -- on 'Newstalk', the 'Marian Finucane Show' on RTE and on local radio Wexford.

He took issue with Mr Wallace questioning the other Independents' loyalty after his tax cheating was revealed.

Waterford TD John Halligan also slated Mr Wallace for being "contemptuous" and having "no respect" for the other TDs.

He also told Mr Wallace he used the recent radio interviews to "settle scores" because they didn't support him over the tax controversy. Sources said Mr Wallace sat silent and smirking throughout. After some pleaded with Mr McGrath to stay on, he walked out of the meeting.

The first hints Mr Wallace was on the way back came last week, but many TDs waited until yesterday's meeting to see if he would officially return. Many did not want him back, and Mr McGrath threatened to resign if he rejoined.

But under Dail rules, the group did not have the power to force him out in the first place, and there is nothing they can do to prevent him from rejoining if he decides to do so.

'Welched'

Mr McGrath says he is angry Mr Wallace "welched" on an agreement reached last month where the Technical Group would give him limited speaking slots if he did not rejoin.

He also took issue with Mr Wallace's recent comments on loyalty within Leinster House, asking: "Loyalty to what? Tax evasion?"

Mrs Murphy has now taken Mr McGrath's position as chair.

Meanwhile, a "fed-up" Mr McGrath has written to Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett asking if there are any grounds to refuse Mr Wallace entry.

He will wait for Mr Barrett's response before deciding to leave the group entirely.

Mr Wallace did not return calls last night.

Irish Independent

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