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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
declaration of interests

Fianna Fáilers were uneasy about Troy staying, but didn't expect him to fall so soon

Troy stepped down last night a few days following a ‘clear the air’ interview about the controversy.

ROBERT TROY’S TROUBLES showed no sign of abating as of yesterday, but there was surprise among many in Leinster House over the speed at which the minister resigned late last night. 

Fianna Fáil politicians were getting increasingly uncomfortable yesterday with the ongoing Troy controversy, with a number of TDs saying that he needed to resign immediately. 

While they perhaps didn’t think their whisperings would become reality quite so soon, the majority within the party said yesterday the “writing was on the wall” for the Minister of State for Trade Promotion. 

The embattled minister made the announcement that he would resign in a statement issued shortly after 9pm. It followed two weeks of growing 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.

On Monday, Troy did an interview on RTÉ in an attempt to clear up some of the details on what was being reported. Yesterday evening he sent out a statement which said:

“I am issuing this statement as a serving TD for the constituency of Longford/Westmeath to officially announce my resignation as a Minister of State.”

“The last ten 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,” he said.

‘End in tears’

Since the initial controversy over failing to declare all of his property dealings to the Dáil’s register of members’ interests, he had to make a total of seven amendments to the Dáil register and revealed that he owns or part-owns 11 properties.

Troy’s errors were not small. The declaration of interests is the one document that is meant to shine some light on each TD and show the public what skin they might have in the game.

But it was the management and the drip-feeding of information that did Troy no favours.

Add in to the mix that the country is in the middle of one of the worst housing and rental crises this country has seen in decades, and the image of a full-time politician running a ‘side hustle’ as a landlord, and it becomes clear where the public anger was coming from.

With over 80 politicians reportedly being landlords or landowners in the Dáil, and after last night’s turn of events, there are no doubt many in Leinster House who are looking over their past declarations and calling Sipo for clarity on what they should declare. 

Troy may have survived had the information come to light a few weeks later, when the Government was in full budgetary swing, but Fianna Fáilers speaking to this website yesterday said the Troy controversy couldn’t be allowed drag on for that long.

Prior to the resignation late last night, one Fianna Fáiler said Troy needed to resign, saying that the minister was in trouble and that the majority of their Fianna Fáil colleagues agreed with the sentiment that he shouldn’t be in the job by the end of the week. 

90234582 Eamonn Farrell / Photocall Ireland Eamonn Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

They said he had “made serious f*ck-ups” in how he handled the controversy:

I think it is all over, it can’t go on much longer, it’s going to end in tears.

Little did this TD know that it would only be a matter of hours. 

They had pointed out that the Fianna Fáil think-in is in Troy’s constituency prior to the return of the Dáil, when Troy would be expected to make a statement in the House. 

It would have involved Troy and the Taoiseach side-by-side, which this politician said could not be countenanced. 

Public trust

A number of TDs said that the public trust is damaged and the debacle was reflecting poorly on Taoiseach Micheál Martin, though most also noted that Troy is much-liked in the party and felt it was unfortunate that this had happened. 

“Initially it was fine with me, I thought he was clear, but it has just kept coming,” said one TD, calling the drip feeding of information, particularly about the rental properties, damaging. 

Troy said in his statement that he would not apologise for being a landlord, and that he had worked to buy his first house when he was just 20. He spoke out against the vilification of landlords, saying it is wrong. 

But this has shown that property ownership and politics is now a precarious issue in the current climate when TDs are discussing rent pressure zones, rent caps, evictions, sky-high rental prices, vulture funds, budget tax breaks for landlords and whether renters will get a tax credit, to name but a few of the hot topics up for discussion by those we elect to represent our interests, and not their own.

Being a landlord for multiple properties in the current climate while also being a politician “is not a good look”, said one TD. 

Eamon Ryan intervention

Yesterday’s intervention by Minister Eamon Ryan is also being sounded by some as significant in the course of how this all played out. 

In the afternoon, after that RTÉ interview, Ryan called for investigations into Troy’s handling of his property interests by an Oireachtas committee and Sipo.  

Some within Fianna Fáil believe that such statements by the Green Party leader must have been flagged with the Taoiseach prior to the radio appearance, making it a clear signal “that this is the end”. 

90274432 Eamonn Farrell / Photocall Ireland Eamonn Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

The wording – metaphorical as it was – was strong. They said false comfort was being shown to Troy at the top of the party, and that by saying they were happy to wait weeks until mid-September for him to make a statement in the Dáil meant he was a “dead man walking”. 

They said Troy was naive to believe the narrative that pushing out the investigations would “save Robert”. 

“Everyone just stands back and watches him die by a thousand cuts,” they said, adding that he was being “slipped into the deep water” by the party. 

However, Government sources denied such speculation, saying that in fact Troy “made his own decision”.

They said the Taoiseach did not ask him to resign. It is understood that it was known that Ryan would be appearing on radio yesterday afternoon, as it was scheduled earlier in the week.

Prior to his resignation, Fianna Fáil TDs were already predicting that when Troy stepped down, it would be portrayed that Troy was “chased out of office by the newspapers”.

Troy did indeed make reference in his statement yesterday evening about the “narrative being put forward by some media” or as one politician joked, “you pesky reporters are getting the blame for asking questions”.  

“Everyone felt sorry for Robert in the beginning” but as it went on and more information came to light, “while they like Robert”, they were “happy to throw him under the bus”, said one politician. 

Not even an hour had gone by before politicians were speculating last night on who might get the gig now that Troy had stepped down.

Time moves fast in politics, particularly in August it seems.