Wallace sparks uproar in bid to rejoin alliance of Independent TDs
Published 19/09/2012 | 05:00
MICK Wallace sparked uproar in the Technical Group yesterday, when he tried to rejoin the loose alliance of Independent TDs he had left amid controversy over his tax cheating.
Mr Wallace was supported in his efforts to rejoin by his political ally Clare Daly, who recently left the Socialist Party, as well as Roscommon TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan.
But other TDs were horrified at Mr Wallace's move since he is regarded as politically toxic after being listed as a tax defaulter in June.
He owes €2.1m to the Revenue Commissioners after making a false declaration in respect of his M&J Wallace construction company.
But the Wexford TD does not need permission from the others to rejoin the group, which gives him more Dail speaking rights.
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.
Mr Wallace is understood to have contacted Technical Group whip Catherine Murphy on Monday night asking that his re-entry be put on the agenda for the first meeting of TDs, which took place yesterday.
The move took the Independents by surprise and caused anger, with one saying: "He could have at least given us a week before he did this, but we don't want him anyway."
One TD said it caused a "massive bust up" at the meeting, with Ms Daly and Mr Flanagan pointing out that the group was just a technical arrangement and not a political party.
But others said out the "elephant in the room was tax evasion and that had to be pointed out".
Socialist leader Joe Higgins vowed to quit, and it is believed all the United Left Alliance (ULA) members, beside Ms Daly, would also walk.
Technical Group chairman Thomas Pringle and Finian McGrath have threatened to resign and leave the group if the disgraced TD comes back.
A raft of other deputies also spoke against Mr Wallace, including Waterford TD John Halligan and Tipperary's Mattie McGrath.
"He doesn't get the seriousness of what he's done," one TD said last night.
Mr Wallace was not at yesterday's meeting himself, but the TDs mandated Mr McGrath, Shane Ross and Ms Murphy to meet him last night.
The meeting took place on the Leinster House campus and it is understood to have been made clear to Mr Wallace that he would not be welcomed back.
Another meeting is expected to take place today, but some TDs are already threatening to set up a separate technical group, made up of around seven to 10 deputies, if Mr Wallace returns. They would then try to create their own rules to try to prevent Mr Wallace joining.
The Irish Independent revealed earlier this month that the tax cheat has started claiming the controversial untaxed and unvouched leader's allowance, which is worth €41,000 a year.
Mr Wallace only started claiming it in July, after the controversy over his tax cheating and his vow to give up half his salary.
He never mentioned the decision to start taking the €41,000 annual allowance when he said he would give up half his wages. But he is now effectively better off than he was last year in terms of the money he receives from the Oireachtas.
And he also got a €60,000 lump sum for the 15 months he was not claiming the allowance.