THE WEEKLY MEETING of the whips for the five main Dáil groupings is to discuss a possible all-party motion of censure condemning Wexford independent TD Mick Wallace over his tax affairs.
The meeting of reps from Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the technical grouping are to discuss whether they can agree the format of a motion formally condemning Wallace for knowingly under-declaring the VAT liabilities of his construction company, M and J Wallace Ltd.
The developments come after the Dáil’s chairman, Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett, yesterday declined a request from Wallace to be given time to make a personal statement to the Dáil explaining his tax affairs.
Barrett is understood to have explained that the Dáil’s rules governing personal explanations must be ‘strictly personal’ – meaning Wallace would not be permitted to discuss the actions of his company M and J Wallace Ltd, even though he is its only director and holds 99 per cent of its shares.
The format of a motion of censure would also mean that Wallace – who no longer enjoys automatic speaking rights, having yesterday agreed to ‘step back’ from membership of the technical group – would be given speaking time to state his own affairs.
Similar arrangements were used last year when fellow independent TD Michael Lowry, who is also outside technical group, was given an opportunity to speak on a motion condemning his own actions as outlined in the report of the Moriarty Tribunal.
Pressure to quit
One issue which may prevent the five groups from reaching a common stance, however, is whether the motion should call on Wallace to resign.
Several independent TDs have been reluctant to openly call for Wallace’s resignation – meaning the technical group may not, as a whole, agree to a motion demanding that he quit – though figures in the main political parties have all suggested he should step down.
The motion of censure against Lowry, passed unanimously last year, included a call for the Tipperary North TD to resign from the House. The motion is merely a formal condemnation, however, and cannot compel a TD to leave their position.
The Dáil committee on members’ interests, meanwhile, is set to meet tomorrow to discuss a potential investigation into Wallace’s actions, believing his refusal to repay the full VAT bill overlaps with his time as a TD.
The committee had previously been working on the assumption that it had no jurisdiction over Wallace’s corporate actions, as the VAT under-declaration had been made before Wallace was elected to the Dáil in February 2011.