THE embattled Independent Technical Group was at war today over the membership of tax cheat Mick Wallace. At least half the group are "adamant" that the Wexford TD must formally resign as a result of his scandalous tax affairs, the Herald has learned.
A number of sources today confirmed that a meeting of the group last night turned "very heated", with Mr Wallace's close friend Clare Daly arguing that he must be allowed return when the scandal blows over.
However the Herald understands that this claim has been rejected outright by some of the group's most influential members, including Shane Ross and Finian McGrath.
One member of the group, Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath, said: "Mick has to go, there is no possibility of him remaining."
He added: "I don't care who is in his ranks. He should be gone. I know there are arguments as to whether he should remain on his [Oireachtas] committee but that's not a runner either. He should be gone and I won't be standing over a situation where he will return."
The Herald revealed last week that the revelations over Mr Wallace's tax evasion had caused major tensions in the 16-strong Technical Group.
The tensions came to a head last night, when a bitter split emerged over his membership.
A source at the meeting explained: "I couldn't believe it when Clare Daly said he would be returning. I thought to myself 'what kind of group are we -- that we would allow a tax cheat to remain?."
Another source said that while the group cannot "expel" Mr Wallace, it will be made "crystal clear" that his position in the group is "untenable".
It's understood that the group's chief whip, Kildare TD Catherine Murphy, and Finian McGrath will approach Mr Wallace and ask him to formally lodge his resignation.
The move would prove particularly embarrassing for Socialist TD Clare Daly -- who just last week told the Herald: "We can't give Mick the boot."
She will have to decide whether to keep her seat beside the ex-builder in the back left corner of the chamber.
Other TDs who are pushing for his resignation include Waterford's John Halligan and Donegal's Thomas Pringle.
Mr Wallace was unavailable for comment today.