I'm sorry but I still won't quit - defiant Wallace
SHAMED TD Mick Wallace was due to return to Wexford this weekend as he makes a desperate bid to keep his tax affairs out of the public spotlight.
The failed developer has pledged to give up half his salary to the State but resisted strong calls for him to resign his Dail seat.
The Wexford deputy said he accepts the tax scandal has "upset" people, adding that he was unable to "defend the indefensible".
However major question marks still hang over his company's scandalous tax affairs that are likely to follow him for quite some time.
And although admitting that he did consider resigning his seat, the former builder claimed: "I was never very good at quitting".
"I want to apologise to people all over Ireland, particularly to those who have supported and continue to support me," Mr Wallace told the Dail during his ten minute address.
"I now work for the people and am paid by the people, I feel obliged to look beyond the bounds of company law ... This was not a cavalier comment but an honest statement of fact."
During an emotional and well-planned address, Mr Wallace told a depleted chamber:
"I will strive to personally make repayments in relation to the tax debt of M J Wallace Ltd and to this end starting immediately I am taking steps to organise for half of my Dail salary to go towards paying M J Wallace Ltd's VAT liability "
And he added that he had done "many things in my life that I should not have done and now I have disappointed many people who believed in me."
The 56-year-old now says he will make "arrangements" to repay his massive €2.1m revenue debt out of his €92,000-a-year Dail salary.
However it is highly unlikely that the taxman will claw even a small percentage of the debt back -- with the Wexford TD needing to serve for 87 years to settle the bill.
Government figures however were surprised by the size of the gesture which they feel will go some way to "restoring his reputation".
Sources close to the TD indicated that Mr Wallace will return to his native Wexford this weekend to meet supporters and constituents -- to whom he says his seat "belongs".
Major questions still hang over Mr Wallace's tax affairs -- most notably whether he really did 'come clean' to the Revenue Commissioners as claimed in a series of disastrous interviews last week.
He has also yet to reveal why he paid himself and his son Sasha enormous salaries when his company's finances were in a dire state.
The tax scandal has also proved particularly damaging to the Dail Technical Group -- with many of Mr Wallace's critics performing u-turns.
Finian McGrath, who had just last week condemned his Independent colleague, said he "welcomed" the fact he has pledged to repay some of the money.
And Roscommon/South Leitrim TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan admitted that he was a "hypocrite" as he knows Mick Wallace personally.
"I suppose I am being a bit of a hypocrite. There's no point denying it. It is that bit more difficult when you do know the person," he said.