Poor mouth Mick Wallace. The silver fox. English, history and philosophy graduate from UCD. An affable, likable man. Sometimes controversial. A huge force for good in Irish soccer. Connoisseur of all things Italian, he owns a vineyard in Italy. He was also a season ticket holder for Turin-based soccer club, Juventus. And he is a tax dodger.
With all the contrition of a man caught in bed with the babysitter, he disclosed how he under-declared around €1.4m in VAT. With interest and penalties added, his company now owes €2.1m, but it will probably never be paid as his company is insolvent. Mick Wallace also owes €19m to ACC bank. If poor mouth Mick Wallace is so broke, how come he can afford to go to the European championship?
This is not the first time Wallace has been in trouble over statutory monies owed. Last November he pleaded guilty to 5 charges of not paying into his employees’ pension scheme on time. Another 19 counts were dropped by the Pensions Board, which brought the prosecution. The total owing was over €49,000. He was fined €7,000.
Perception is everything in politics. What we have is a former property developer turned TD not paying his company’s VAT. He and his son were directors of the company while he was evading his taxes, what fees did they incur? How much were they being paid 100k, 200k, or 300k…? His defense he was trying to save jobs is looking very flimsy at best, and at worst he is just another property developer saving his own hide at the expense of the taxpayer and state.
Wallace is now looking like a massive political hypocrite. In a Dáil where hypocrisy is par for the course, even his actions stand out. Only 2 weeks ago he unveiled a huge pink poster, displayed over his premises in the Italian Quarter, urging everyone to vote No, claiming that it is ‘A treaty for banks, not for people’. Well Mick, it is because of property developers like you that banks needed bailing out. Or maybe he was being ironic. There is something quite ironic about a Tax evading property developer having a rummage around the underwear of the United Left Alliance looking for a bit of a political feel and place to call home. What must be most worrying to the far left is how the silver tongued, silver haired fox charmed his way into the far left’s bed.
He now poses a massive political headache for the Dáil technical group and the ULA. These self-styled moral political guardians have long criticised Irish politics’ close ties with property developers. They have correctly highlighted property developers that are living the high life while owing millions to banks. The ULA must now be feeling pretty seedy. In bed with a property developer…. A tax defrauding property developer……. One can imagine Joe Higgins and Clare Daly going home and scrubbing themselves with carbolic soap to rid themselves of the scent of a tax evading property developer. Richard Boyd Parrot and Joan Collins must feel like their homes have been politically burgled. Individuals in the technical group have been issuing bland statements all day saying he has done wrong and should be held accountable. One can’t help but wonder, though, if it was a Fianna Fáil TD, would they be organising a lynch mob and calling for a special debate on his fitness for office?
He also poses a massive problem for the revenue and other statutory state bodies. What we have essentially is a high profile public representative admitting to defrauding the state. Can he be allowed go unpunished? He cannot be forced from office unless he is declared bankrupt. Here is the massive failing in Irish politics. Dublin food importer Paul Begley was jailed for six years for evading tax on Chinese garlic. Rambo, Pee Flynn and Charles Haughey all got off relatively scot-free compared to Paul Begley.
Mick Wallace now has all the moral authority of Pee Flynn, Lowry and others who have embarrassed Irish politics. The only honourable thing to do would be to resign and put himself before the voters of Wexford again in a by-election. They, after all, elected him.
But hey, this is Ireland and our turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. Poland may be the safest place for him right now.