Monday 23 October 2017

Wallace under pressure to reveal details of tax deal for Dail probe

TAX CHEAT TD Mick Wallace
TAX CHEAT TD Mick Wallace

Fiach Kelly and Colm Kelpie

TAX CHEAT TD Mick Wallace is under mounting pressure to reveal key details of his massive Revenue settlement to allow a Dail watchdog decide if it can investigate him.

His own former colleagues in the Technical Group of Independent deputies turned the screw on the Wexford TD last night. They called on him to give all information needed to the Dail Members' Interests Committee.

Mr Wallace has been embroiled in controversy since it emerged his M&J Wallace construction company had under-declared VAT returns worth €1.4m to Revenue and had not paid off the subsequent €2.1m tax settlement.

But the committee examining the tax settlement hasn't been told the full details of the case by Mr Wallace, and is hamstrung until it finds out more.

Mr Wallace has so far refused to supply the exact date when the settlement with Revenue was reached. This is a key detail since he can only be fully investigated by TDs on the Members' Interests Committee if the settlement was agreed after he was elected in March last year.

If the committee receives no extra information from Mr Wallace, it is likely to stop its investigation and pass the matter back to the Dail.

The developer TD has left the Technical Group since the controversy erupted, but his former colleagues have called on him to co-operate fully.

The majority who responded to queries from this newspaper said Mr Wallace should provide the details, but none would call on Mr Wallace to resign his Wexford seat.

However, a number of TDs -- including Richard Boyd Barrett, Joe Higgins, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, and Mr Wallace's friend, Dublin North Socialist TD Clare Daly -- did not return calls.

Donegal South West Independent TD Thomas Pringle chairs the Members' Interests Committee and said they needed all information to decide if the committee has jurisdiction to probe Mr Wallace.

"The only way we can do that is if the confirmation of dates is given to us," Mr Pringle said. "If we get that, then we can decide if we have jurisdiction and can then either launch an investigation or formally notify the Dail that we don't have jurisdiction.

"We've written to Deputy Wallace's solicitors and we've scheduled another meeting for next week and we expect to have a response before that."

Dublin North Central's Finian McGrath said: "All members of the Oireachtas should cooperate with that committee. There should be 100pc cooperation in relation to the issue and then we'll get to the bottom of it once and for all."

Peers

But not all were so emphatic, and Dublin Central's Maureen O'Sullivan, while saying Mr Wallace should co-operate, said she has a "difficulty with peers being judged by your peers".

"My view is that if he broke the law, the law should deal with him, not the members' committee," she said.

But all dodged the question on whether Mr Wallace should resign from the Dail, causing a by-election in Wexford.

"I'm not going there on that one," said Dublin South-Central People Before Profit TD Joan Collins. "He's not a member of the United Left Alliance, he's not a People Before Profit TD, he's an Independent TD for Wexford. If he was in the ULA, he wouldn't be still here, but I can't call for his resignation."

Irish Independent

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