Wednesday 17 January 2018

Mick Wallace moves to rejoin Dail group

Fiach Kelly and Michael Brennan

TAX cheat Mick Wallace has taken the first moves to rejoin the loose alliance of Independent TDs in the Technical Group -- despite being told he isn't welcome.

An emergency meeting of the group was called late last night in Leinster House. It is understood Mr Wallace contacted Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett asking to be readmitted. The move caused anger among some TDs, who have already told Mr Wallace they don't want him back, with one labelling him an "arrogant b*****d".

Earlier, he stunned TDs with a call for workers to pay more tax. 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.

Resign

Group chairman Finian McGrath has threatened to resign if Mr Wallace returns, but the Technical Group was still deciding what approach to take last night.

There was surprise when Mr Wallace was allocated speaking time during an agriculture debate last night, which led to speculation he had rejoined.

Mr Wallace has admitted deliberately under-declaring €1.4m of VAT.

But in the Dail, he asked Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin to give him a "Yes or No" answer on raising taxes.

"Would the minister approve of a higher band of income tax for moneys over €100,000 in Ireland while we are in such difficult circumstances?" he asked.

Mr Howlin was rendered temporarily speechless, before gathering himself to answer: "Deputy Wallace asked about paying tax. What can I say? I am trying to formulate a response."

He said tax rates were a matter for Finance Minister Michael Noonan, adding: "However, I would encourage everybody to pay the taxes that are properly levied by this Oireachtas."

Irish Independent

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