Monday 22 July 2019

Mick says ‘ciao’ to the Dáil

Pádraig Byrne

Having been elected to represent the people of Ireland South in the European Parliament, there was a mixture of laughter and fighting back the tears in the Dáil chamber last week as Wexford TD Mick Wallace bid it a fond farewell. One of the more colourful characters in Leinster house, his absence will certainly be noted.

Never one to resist a parting jibe, Mick started, tongue in cheek, by saying: 'I've just sorted a few things with the Leas-Ceann Comhairle about the time he pulled on me when he shouldn't have and tried to shut me up before my time'

'I wasn't in here quite as long as Billy (Kelleher), thanks be to God for that!' he continued as laughter echoed around the chambers. 'I should start by thanking the people of Wexford for electing me in 2011 and 2016. And in 2019, the support I got from (Ireland South), it was pretty emotional to get so much support. More than I probably deserved.'

Despite frequent frustration in the Dáil, Deputy Wallace looks back fondly on his time there.

'I've had an amazing time in here,' he said. 'Very frustrating and very fulfilling in equal measure. I want to say thanks to everybody here, to the staff and to the members. I've probably been pretty merciless with a lot of ministers over there. I'd like to think that my criticism, it was never personal and I always respected the person that I was taking lumps off! There was a few of them that pushed me to the bone alright and I was threatening to go down those steps and across there after a couple of fellas!'

While sad to leave, Deputy Wallace is looking forward to the challenge of Europe.

'I don't know what it's going to be like in Europe,' he said. 'Just from the couple of weeks I've been over there trying to organise things, it's going to be very challenging. It's going to be difficult to make a difference, but I was never afraid of hard work and I'm going to work incredibly hard to try and make that difference and to try and rescue Europe from the hands of large corporations and the whole neo-liberal philosophy.'

Finally, becoming visibly emotional, Mick used his final stand to thank Catriona Lawlor and Conor Sugrue in the HSE, both of whom he said had 'done some very good work for someone very close to me'.

Among Wallace's colleagues to pay tribute to him before he embarks on his European adventure was fellow Wexford TD James Browne.

'Deputy Wallace ran an energetic campaign to represent Wexford and the Ireland South constituency in the European Parliament,' he said. 'A lot of important issues that affect Wexford, including climate change, transport, and trade deals, will soon come before the European Parliament for consideration. It's important that Wexford will have a voice at European level during these debates. Deputy Wallace has always been passionate, insightful, yet fair on his views. I want to wish Deputy Wallace, soon to be Mick Wallace MEP, the best of luck with his new role.'

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