Monday 16 September 2019

Torrid week in the life of a humble TD

HE TEASED us, he shed a few tears, he expressed contrition and even a sort of restrained defiance in the face of adversity.

It has been quite a week for Wexford's disgraced Deputy, Mick Wallace.

His emotional apology in the Dail and his assertion of his right to his seat gained him some support at home, if not in a wider sense, although his critics are remarkably silent in the wake of a distasteful time for Dail Eireann.

At one stage he was heading for Poland to watch the boys in Green turn pink with embarrassment.

But did he make it to Poland to watch Ireland sink out of sight? Well his car was towed away from a private car park at Dublin Airport while a man answering his description was seen supping a pint of Guinness in a departure lounge.

All this is, however, a distraction to the real issue. Mick admitted knowlingly under-declaring VAT to the tune of €1.4 million, sparking a media frenzy.

Just when he fessed up is a moot point. Did Revenue initiate an investigation before he began to come clean nor not?

Amid talk of speeches and meetings by toothless committees and equally toothless deputies who did everything but stand up and be counted, all eyes were upon Mick last Thursday.

While he should have been in Poland cheering Ireland in their Euro 2012 game against Spain, he was standing in the Dáil, nervously shuffling pieces of paper as he delivered an at- times emotional speech in an attempt to claw back every piece of credibility and integrity that he could muster.

He had ditched the trademark pink shirt in favour of a more sombre blue, reflecting the mood of his speech in which he apologised to the people of Wexford who he represents and his colleagues in the Dáil, for bringing 'dishonour on a profession that hardly needed it.'

Mick Wallace looked an isolated forlorn figure as he said sorry.

His close friend Clare Daly looked equally shattered and forlorn, her own political career possibly hanging in the balance as a result of her friendship with normally flamboyant Wallace.

Ming Flanagan provided the Wexford TD with a helpful hand of support when his emotions nearly got the better of him causing him to take a long pause towards the end of his address.

Did his appeal to the masses work?

Once you sift through the stream of apologies, two points stand out.

Firstly it would appear that he is going to brave the storm and stay put.

As he announced to those assembled: 'I was never very good at quitting.'

Secondly, he announced that he was making arrangements to pay half of his TD's salary to the tax man.

While it was a gesture, it would mean keeping him in his seat for 87 years to pay back all he owes.

And while it may be seen as a noble gesture, it is perhaps a futile one that fails to factor in his ability to repay Revenue when he is fiscally hampered by the personal guarantees to ACC Bank on five loans taken out by his construction company M&J Wallace Ltd.

This effectively means that ACC Bank has first call on Mick's € 92,000 annual salary after it secured a €19.4 million judgment against his company last year.

So is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning for this new humble Mick Wallace?

Only time will tell.

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