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McDonald says Troy controversy asks 'very serious questions' about Taoiseach's judgement

Mary Lou McDonald said Robert Troy’s resignation was “inevitable”.

Mary Lou McDonald (file photo)
Mary Lou McDonald (file photo)
Image: PA Images

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has said the fact Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar stood by junior minister Robert Troy before his resignation raises “very serious questions” about their judgement.

Troy, a Fianna Fáil TD, resigned from his role as Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment last night amid controversy over failing to declare all of his property dealings to the Dáil’s register of members’ interests.

In recent days, Troy has made several amendments to the Dáil register and revealed that he owns or part-owns 11 properties. He insists he did not break any rules.

In a statement released late last night, McDonald said: “As each day passed, further revelations about Minister Troy’s behaviour as a landlord came into the public domain.

“Throughout this period both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste offered their full support describing Robert Troy as a ‘first-class Minister’.”

McDonald said that Troy’s resignation was “inevitable” and “casts very serious questions on their judgement and those are questions that will not go away as a result of this action”.

There have been calls in recent days for the Dáil Committee on Parliamentary Privileges and Oversight to investigate matters related to Troy’s property interests as more allegations emerged.

Screenshot 2022-08-25 08.56.23 Robert Troy (file photo) Source: PA Images

His resignation followed two weeks of controversy following the initial publishing of an article on The Ditch website which said that Troy had failed to declare his sale of a property in Mullingar to Westmeath County Council.

‘He made serious errors’

In his statement last night, Troy said: “The last 10 days have been extremely difficult, but I would like to sincerely thank the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and the large number of colleagues across the political divide who have shown their support and who continue to have trust in me.”

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin said in a statement that he accepted Troy’s resignation with “regret”.

“Robert has been a very committed, hardworking and efficient Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, in particular working with SMEs and preparing legislative reforms for the PIAB.

“The Minister clearly acknowledged that he made serious errors in relation to his declarations to the Register of Members’ Interests, and he sincerely apologised for this.

“Since his election to Dáil Éireann, his commitment to his constituents and dedication to his work has been beyond question,” Martin said.

Opposition reaction

Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon has said the Troy controversy must finally mean that the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) get more teeth, something they have been asking for for many years.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said politicians are meant to declare their personal interests in a subject matter if they are going to be speaking about it in the Dáil.

He said Troy spoke in the Dáil on a number of issues relating to rental properties, such as how can we help landlords evict tenants in the context of Covid and the need for more money in the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme as well as the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS), which Troy was partaking in.

“He has a right to do it. The state as a whole is paying close to a billion euros a year in these schemes to private landlords, but he has to declare that he is personally benefiting from these government policies,” Murphy told Virgin Media’s Ireland AM programme today.

“I think that’s the essence of the political issue here is that they’re not building public housing. Instead, they’re subsidising private landlords like Robert Troy, and at the very, very minimal position is that you have to declare that, so at least people know when you’re talking about it [they understand] ‘Oh, you have a personal interest in this’,” he said.

‘Right decision’

Meanwhile, the Minister for Children has said that Troy made the right decision to resign as a junior minister in light of a “significant number” of errors in declaring properties on the Irish parliament’s register of interests.

Speaking to RTÉ, Green Party TD Roderic O’Gorman said that “Robert made the right decision in terms of offering his resignation yesterday”.

“And whereas Robert’s been very clear that they were genuine mistakes, I think he saw the fact that this was going to be a focus over the next number of weeks, particularly in advance of him coming into the Dail and giving a statement.

“And at a time when we’re preparing for a budget, at a time when there are major political issues that the government has to address.”

When asked why Troy decided to resign, O’Gorman said: “I don’t know. I wasn’t speaking to Robert yesterday. From his statement, my sense is he doesn’t want to distract from the work of government.”

With additional reporting by Christina Finn

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Órla Ryan

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