Saturday 25 November 2017

What next for Mick? A string vest in the Dail?

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

WHAT'S next from Mick Wallace's wardrobe? A string vest? The tax cheat continues to dredge the bottom of the barrel when it comes to showing even a modicum of respect for the Dail.

In an even more blatant-than-usual show of disregard, the Independent TD appeared in an Italian football jersey, covered in various logos yesterday.

The Wexford TD was in the Dail Chamber for questions to Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte. Does he really expect a minister responding to a question from him to take him seriously when he's in a football jersey?

Mr Wallace's supporters argue he's not there to dress smartly. True, but is it too much to ask that a grown man with a responsible job dress for the part?

At a time when there are 400,000 people on the dole, would he recommend somebody going for a job interview to wear a soccer jersey?

Mr Wallace continues to thumb his nose at the status of the informal dress code of the Oireachtas.

Despite there being no absolute prescribed dress code for parliamentarians (in fairness, most others seem to know what is appropriate for adults to wear in such a workplace), the vast majority dress like professionals going about their business, as do the staff of the national parliament. They are not all trussed up in tailored suits, and nor should they be.

But almost every man and woman who has earned the right to represent the Irish people in our parliament dresses in what would be considered smart business wear in this part of the world.

Not surprisingly, Mr Wallace's choice of clothing backfires because the attention falls on what he's wearing, rather than what he's saying.

Does anybody actually remember the question Mr Wallace was putting to Mr Rabbitte yesterday?

Mr Wallace and his ilk don't want to show respect, but there is an onus on the rest of the members of the Houses of the Oireachtas to stand up for the parliament.

It is about time the main parties weighed in behind Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett in his efforts to set some minimum standards.

The enforcement of the dress code is pretty simple: just don't allow TDs who defy it to speak.

The argument put forward is that this is anti-democratic as it prevents TDs from speaking in the chamber to which they were elected.

Just go for it.

After a few weeks of kerfuffle, the ban would be implemented and the protests forgotten about.

A dress code wouldn't require anybody to wear a suit, just show a bit of respect for the national parliament.

TDs who represent working- class communities like Joe Higgins invariably wear a jacket and shirt.

Why can't Mr Wallace be forced to do the same? Back in the early 1980s, the late Tony Gregory caused a furore over his decision not to wear a tie.

The vast difference between Tony Gregory and Mick Wallace is he was an effective representative for his community.

Mr Gregory's choice of clothing became irrelevant as he was judged entirely on his performance as a TD.

He was not a joke.

Mick Wallace is no Tony Gregory.

Irish Independent

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