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Sunday 17 December 2017

It's endgame for Mick

MICKSER goes to Poznan. Christy Moore should be able to write a great song one day about the pink-shirted TD who jets off to the European Championships just 24 hours after admitting that he made a false tax return and now owes the Revenue €2.1m.

Mick Wallace will be an easy man to spot in the stands at Ireland's games over the coming week - but when the final whistle blows, it will be time for him to hang up his political boots.

Why has Wallace made such a hash of breaking the news? He must have known for years that this day would dawn, giving him plenty of time to prepare a humble apology and a graceful exit from public life.

Instead, the maverick builder has actually made things worse by offering a series of mealy-mouthed excuses and constantly referring himself in the third person - the sort of behaviour that marked out other political chancers such as Liam Lawlor and Padraig Flynn.

The more we find out about Wallace's business affairs, the worse it gets. Even as his company started to go down the tubes in 2008, he doubled the money paid to himself and his son from €148,141 to €290,000 - a salary that would buy an awful lot of pink polo shirts.

He posed as a great humanitarian who cited Noam Chomsky as a hero, but his employees still had to take him to court after he failed to pay into their pension funds.



Crony

Wallace's basic plea is that he did what he thought was right at the time.

This is exactly the same explanation offered up by Seanie FitzPatrick, Michael 'Fingers' Fingleton and all the other crony capitalists whom the Wexford TD has denounced so eloquently over the years.

He also claims that we should go easy on him because he doesn't have a lavish lifestyle, which sounds suspiciously like the defence made of Bertie Ahern when his bizarre personal finances were revealed.

Whatever he decides to do now, Wallace is politically finished. It may well be that the Dail watchdog cannot force him to quit, since all this happened before he became a TD.

He claims that the people of Wexford are still behind him, although he apparently has no intention of forcing a by-election and putting this to the test.

Every time this tax dodger stands up in the Dail chamber from now on, however, he will be drowned out by his colleagues' laughter - and a politician with no moral authority is like a footballer with a broken leg.

However, Wallace is not the only TD who should find it hard to look in the mirror today.

The Technical Group of Independents, normally the biggest publicity junkies in Leinster House, have gone strangely quiet now that one of their own has been publicly exposed as a golden-haired hypocrite.

If this had been a Fianna Fail or Fine Gael politician, the most dangerous place on Kildare Street would be between an Independent and a microphone - but so far, not a single one has had the guts to declare that Wallace should resign his Dail seat.

While the Wallace scandal plays itself out, most ordinary people will simply shake their heads at the double standards on display.

Only last March, a Dublin businessman was sentenced to six years in jail for failing to pay VAT of €1.6m on imported garlic.

The law has yet to take its course here - but for the next few days at least, we will be treated to the unedifying spectacle of a self-confessed tax cheat using his Dail salary to cheer on the boys in green at international football matches.

Law makers cannot be law breakers. Mick Wallace pitched his political tent on the moral high ground, which has left him with a very long way to fall.

He was a novelty act who brightened up the Dail, but now he has been caught pink-handed - and the only verdict must be, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

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