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8 things we learned from TDs' declarations of interests for 2012

How many deputies own property abroad? And where do those who keep their eyes on Ireland’s finances invest themselves?

Leo: Evidently not much of a tennis player.
Leo: Evidently not much of a tennis player.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

OIREACHTAS AUTHORITIES have published the latest round of members’ interests disclosures for members of the Dáil.

The document – which you can read in full (as a PDF) here – is lengthy, but here are some nuggets we thought were interesting and worth sharing.

Barack Obama gave Enda Kenny a print last year

The US president gave a print worth €1,500 to Enda Kenny when the Taoiseach travelled to Washington for the St Patrick’s Day festivities. The Taoiseach donated the painting to the state, and it now hangs in Government Buildings.

An Aer Lingus takeover would be good news for Clare Daly

The Dublin North TD is a former Aer Lingus employee and built up a shareholding in the airline – but in last year’s disclosure we didn’t know how many.

In this year’s one we learn that the former Socialist TD has 17,000 shares in the airline. That’s worth nearly €21,000 at their current value – and €23,800 if the Ryanair takeover bid, at €1.40 per share, was approved.

Some care more than others about an economic recovery…

A global economic recovery would be good news for Michael Noonan, but not simply because it helps him in his job as Minister for Finance: he has personal investments which rise when the FTSE and Dow Jones indices increase. He also has a similar investment in US banks.

Shane Ross, meanwhile, has investments in US and German government bonds.

…while others are feeling the property pinch

TDs are not required to make any comment on their submissions, but Labour’s Arthur Spring opted to include a small additional statement in his annual disclosure.

Under his ‘occupational income’, Spring lists rental income received from an apartment in Harold’s Cross – which he points out was “purchased as my PDH [primary dwelling house] in 2006 and remains my only property”.

“It is now in negative equity and is currently let,” he adds. “The rental income falls short of the mortgage repayments. I therefore rent my home in Tralee.”

Sure enough, he later mentions a cottage he rents – again asserting, “I am renting due to the predicament of negative equity.”

Keeping it local…

There are two TDs whose private interests – as the proprietors of private companies – mean they have a particularly keen interest in what goes on at their local county council.

Michael Healy-Rae’s disclosure includes contracts between Kerry County Council and Healy-Rae’s filling station in Kilgarvan, which supplies fuel, and Roughty Plant Hire, which carries out maintenance work on behalf of both the council and the HSE.

Mattie McGrath also has a family-run plant hire company, which provides machinery to the county councils of his native South Tipperary and Waterford.

…and keeping it not-so-local

There are nine TDs (at least – we may have missed some) whose property interests includes land overseas.

Justice minister Alan Shatter owns four properties in Florida and two in London; former junior planning minister Willie Penrose has three properties in London, one in the Netherlands and one in Estonia.

Labour’s Dominic Hannigan has properties in London and Florence, while FG’s John Deasy has a place in Sardinia. Both FG minister Phil Hogan and backbencher Aine Collins have property in Portugal.

Junior minister Ciaran Cannon has property in France, while backbencher James Bannon has an apartment in Spain.

Independent TD Michael Lowry – whose British corporate property interests have come under the spotlight recently – lists properties in Mansfield and Wigan, the latter being of “negligible” value.

A few TDs are still on private pensions

Junior minister Dinny McGinley is on a pension for his time as teacher, while his FG colleague Joe O’Reilly has a part-pension for similar reasons.

Sinn Féin’s Michael Colreavy, in Sligo-North Leitrim, has a pension from his previous career working with the local arm of the HSE. Labour’s Brendan Ryan has a pension from his time working for Coca-Cola Bottlers, and FG’s Billy Timmins has a part-pension from his time in the army.

Both Michael Noonan and the Leas Ceann Comhairle, Michael Kitt, are entitled to teachers’ pensions but have forfeited them to the Exchequer while they remain in public office.

In addition, former FF junior minister Dara Calleary discloses his ministerial severance pay, which continued into 2012 – though neither Billy Kelleher nor Willie Penrose, who also received severance pay for former ministerial jobs, did likewise.

Leo Varadkar mustn’t be much of a tennis enthusiast

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport was given an honorary membership of Castleknock Tennis Club after his appointment – which he says was “graciously accepted” but not used to date.

Likewise, a membership of the Royal Irish Automobile Club, based close to Leinster House at Dawson Street, has also gone unused.

Read: 11 things we learned from last year’s Registers of Members’ Interests

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