I am a foreigner and therefore – so I have been told occasionally – I have no clue. Keep that in mind when you read this opinion piece. :-)
Today, I am appealing to you NOT to vote for any independent politicians in the next General Election. If you want your voice to be heard, you have to decide for one of the parties, despite the fact that it is quite difficult. A vote for an Independent is a wasted vote, because at best, your Independent TD will never be more than a solo-runner that will have no significant impact and influence. At worst, however, he/she is a mad nutcase that is only interested in his/her own private agenda.
Why are Independents unreliable? Because you don’t know what they are thinking, who or what influences them and because they are a loose cannon. Look at Mick Wallace for example. The people that voted for him have to be aware that he will NEVER be at a position of influence in the Dail (and that is probably a very good thing for the rest of us!), but you also don’t know how he will vote on an issue that will come up in 2 years time and – different to parties – he won’t have to discuss his opinion or his voting behaviour with anybody.
Or take Michael Lowry, a seriously dodgy character who I wouldn’t trust to look after just EUR 50 of my own money. Can he be trusted to partake in running the country?
So what do you get by voting for an Independent? Nothing! Your representative has no influence or impact, might be a mad-cap looney and the only thing you achieve is to protest against the parties. Yes, that at times is a good feeling, BUT keep in mind that it will take many long years until you have the opportunity again to vote. Protest is a short term emotional decision, but in two years time you are still stuck with the nutcase that you voted just to protest against the parties.
So vote for the person that you would trust to look after your own hard earned EUR 5000 and vote for the party that is most aligned with your values and believes!!
Having read all that, I just want to remind you that – as a foreigner – I am not meant to have any clue about what I am talking about, but what if I did have a point!? ;-)
According to a TV and newspapers, it seems to be clear that Mick Wallace knowingly underdeclared VAT. And in the year he did that or in the year his company went into liquidation, he increased his own salary from EUR 148,141 to EUR 290,000.
That creates an interesting situation, because people that bought apartments from Wallace paid VAT to him, which he was obliged to pass on to the Revenue Commission. Instead passing that money on, he kept it in his company. This sounds like clear theft!
Wallace now claims that he had intended to pay the tax at a later stage and only kept it to save his company and to save jobs. But it is very easy to claim that when you have been found out. There is a good possibility that he would nave never voluntarily given back the VAT. And even if he had genuinely planned to pay it back, it would be unacceptable because VAT belongs to the state, i.e. the tax payers and the state is not a bank for Wallace.
So, it all seems to indicate that he stole money from the state/the tax payers.
To makes things worse and to make his story even less credible, he increased his salary, so he used part of the VAT that he took from apartment buyers and stuffed it into his own pockets. To save the company? To save jobs? No way!
Should Wallace resign! Absolutely!
But we have to ask ourselves what a screwed up parliament we have in Ireland, if the other members don’t have any means to kick him out! …many even think he shouldn’t resign. Are they afraid they might sit in a glass house too and don’t want to be the first to throw the stone?
Do you remember the big news in March of this year? A food importer had imported garlic (which has a ridiculously high import tax) and declared it as apples. He did that for four years and the fraud allowed him to avoid EUR 1.4mio in VAT. Since 2007 he had paid back half of it, but his case was in front of a court now and he was put in prison for six (!!) years. www.jrnl.ie/379395 Can’t see that making it easier for him to get pay the rest back. In my opinion this verdict is crazy. Sure he should be penalised for his fraud, but six years of prison sentence is just madness.
Fast forward to 08 June 2012. Just 3 months later. Same country. Similar fraud. The elected parliament member TD Mick Wallace was found to have avoided a significant amount of VAT. We don’t know how much, but we know that he agreed to a settlement with the Revenue Commission for a 2.1mio underpayment of VAT over a 2 year period. Wallace is unlike the garlic importer Begley not prepared to pay anything back because his company is insolvent. In an interview he even claimed that he did not break the law, but his company did. Dohhh! This man is a member of the Irish parliament and neither the left wing group he belongs to, nor the Taoiseach is demanding his resignation. They all say it was wrong, but blabber on about it being the decision of the people who elected him, if he should resign or not. www.jrnl.ie/478230 Should Wallace not be thrown into prison too? Maybe for longer than 6 years? If 700k are equivalent to 3 years, then he should get 9 years? No, I don’t think that would be just, but many (including me) would find it just if he was kicked out of the Dail IMMEDIATELY!