'highest standards' | 

Mick Wallace’s EU Parliament group seek urgent meeting over his links with wine business

“As the Left group in the European Parliament, we need to ensure that the existing rules are abided by and respected’

Mick Wallace

Sarah CollinsIndependent.ie

The leadership of Mick Wallace's Left Group in the European Parliament are seeking an urgent meeting with the controversial Irish politician, saying their own members must adhere to the "highest ethics standards" even beyond the rules set for all MEPs.

The Left Group leaders say they have yet to meet with Mr Wallace to clarify whether he has breached the European Parliament’s ethics code, following revelations of links to a wine business in Ireland.

French MEP Manon Aubry - one of two leaders of the Left group in the European Parliament – indicated the Left Group will take a hard line with their own MEPs even in cases where the European Parliament's rules have not been breached, as she said her group must “go further” to uphold standards in public office.

Ms Aubry said she and Left co-president Martin Schirdewan will talk with the former Wexford TD “as soon as possible” to ensure the group upholds “the highest standards”.

“The Left Co-Presidents will discuss the issue with MEP Wallace as soon as possible in order to clarify the situation and check whether there's been a breach of ethical rules,” she told the Irish Independent by email.

European Parliament ethics rules are not as strict as those in Ireland and there is no equivalent to the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) to oversee transparency.

But the Left group has been campaigning for higher standards after a number of Italian and Greek MEPs from the rival socialist group were arrested and charged in connection with a Qatari bribery and corruption scandal, and this week voted in favour of banning side jobs that could come into conflict with MEPs’ work.

“As the Left group in the European Parliament, we need to ensure that the existing rules are abided by and respected.

“But we've also been at the forefront of the fight against corruption and defend that we must also go further to ensure all members of our group adhere to the highest ethics standards.

“We will show the same passion to guarantee this within our organisation, as we have when it comes to the European Parliament and EU as a whole.”

Confusion arose after a TikTok video, first reported by the Irish Independent, showed the ex-Wexford TD claiming to have three wine bars in Dublin that were never listed on his European declaration of financial interests.

Since the video surfaced, Mr Wallace has updated his declaration to say he was a paid “advisor” to Wallace Calcio Ltd in the three years leading up to his election to the European Parliament in 2019 – when he was a TD. The advisory role was never declared on his Dáil register.

Wallace Calcio is a holding company that Mr Wallace used to own, and which is associated with Wallace branded wine bars in Dublin, according to the Companies Registration Office. He ceased to mention Wallace Calcio on his Dáil register after 2016, reporting “nil” income for his final three years in the Oireachtas.

Mr Wallace is a member of the European Parliament’s environment, public health and food safety committee, which has responsibility for adopting alcohol-related laws.

In the TikTok video – uploaded by right-wing Italian MEP Alessandro Panza – Mr Wallace says he disagrees with putting cancer warnings on alcohol labels, a move the Department of Health has pledged to bring in this year.

Ireland is moving ahead of the EU, which has not put forward legislation on the issue.

Dáil rules state that members must declare any paid “occupation” that earns them more than €2,600 per year, before tax. It is not clear whether Mr Wallace’s advisory role falls into this category. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Sipo has no remit to investigate former TDs.

Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos