Robert Troy
coalition concerns

Greens call for investigations into Robert Troy's handling of property interests

Minister of State Troy said he is still willing to “engage with SIPO, RTB or a Dáil Committee as suggested by Minister Ryan”.

LAST UPDATE | Aug 24th 2022, 3:32 PM

MINISTER EAMON RYAN has called for investigations into Robert Troy’s handling of his property interests by an Oireacthas committee and Sipo. 

The Green Party leader said Troy’s “significant errors” have the effect of “undermining confidence in the political system” and that the issue needs to be addressed quickly. 

In a statement this afternoon, Troy’s office said the Minister of State remains willing “to engage with SIPO, RTB or a Dáil Committee as suggested by Minister Ryan”.

Speaking to RTÉ radio, Ryan said Troy’s dealings should be dealt with by the Oireachtas Committee on Procedures, Privileges and Oversight ahead of the Dáil’s return next month. 

This goes against his government colleague’s intentions to address TDs when the Dáil comes back from its summer break. 

“Officeholders are accountable to the Oireachtas. I think it would be appropriate if that was done before the return of the Dáil and I think that any questions the Opposition or indeed members of government might have could be asked there,” Ryan told Bryan Dobson on RTÉ Radio One.

“So I think that could be done quickly – it needs to be done quickly,” he said. 

Describing the controversy as “very disappointing”, he said Sipo – the agency for standards in public office – should carry out an investigation.

He added that clarity is needed on “what exactly are the rules around rental contracts” and how they need to be declared by politicians. 

It comes amid increasing pressure on Troy. 

The latest statement from Robert Troy’s office this afternoon also addressed reports that one of his developments has no registered fire safety certificate.

The statement said the Fianna Fáil Minister of State received advice from an architect engineer that oversaw development that the building pre-dated certain legislation. 

“The advice was as there was no “material change” nor “material change of use” as a result of the renovations carried out, an application for a fire safety certificate was not required under Building Regulations,” he added.

“However, all works were completed to the relevant fire safety regulations including the addition of a fire escape as part of these fire safety measures.”

Troy further confirmed that Dublin City Council advised that no planning was required for 25a Rathdown Road “apart from the planning we obtained for the fire escape”.

“Dublin City Council inspected this property in 2015 and in 2016 and issued a report in September 2016 which recommended no further action was required,” the statement continued. 

Earlier, Sinn Féin, Labor and Áontu said Troy’s resignation may be necessary if clarity can’t be brought to his property affairs. 

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said Troy had shown a “careless disregard” for regulations designed to “prevent corruption” and called on him to clarify further matters on the properties he owns. 

Bacik said if the Longford-Westmeath TD does not, she believes it may be a “resigning issue” for the junior minister and that it is “compounded” by his role as Minister of State for Trade Promotion. 

She told RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland that she expects his government colleagues will be “calling for him to resign” by the end of the week if he does not clarify “outstanding questions” on his affairs.  

Calls have been growing for Troy to either resign or clarify further details, such as whether he held fire certificates for one of his properties.

Yesterday, Troy said that he failed to do his “due diligence” before signing his members’ interests returns.

He apologised to his constituents, colleagues in the Dáil and to Sipo – the Standards in Public Office body – during an interview with Bryan Dobson on RTÉ Radio’s News at One.

But Bacik said there remain questions to answer.

“I listened very carefully to the interview that Minister Troy gave yesterday. I think that at best . . . his catalogue of omissions, failures to declare and so on disclosed a real disregard or careless disregard, if I may say, for the mechanisms introduced to prevent corruption,” she told  broadcaster Mary Wilson.

“I think Robert still has questions to answer. I think this careless disregard for these mechanisms is compounded by the fact that he is indeed the junior minister for company regulation.”

‘Full confidence’

An expression of “full confidence” was expressed in Troy by his fellow junior minister Josepha Madigan to Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio One afterwards, saying he had committed “misdemeanors” but had apologised for them.

“He’s held his hand up and he said he didn’t know put down the right information and he misinterpreted what he was supposed to do. And I think from my own perspective, the fact that he’s apologised is a start  and but I do very much welcome the fact that he will give a Dáil statement,” Madigan said. 

Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibín has called for the minister to resign from office and if not for the Taoiseach to fire him.

“The Minister for Company Regulations, a Landlord with a significant property portfolio has broken Public Office Standards regulations,” the Meath West TD said.

“He was inaccurate in his declarations year after year. He profited from a Housing Crisis, received significant funds from the state while not declaring conflict of interest in the Dáil.”

Tóibín said the Troy controversy “gives credence to what many people believe, that TDs with the profit motivations of large landlords are not best placed to fulfil the opposite needs of hundreds of thousands of tenants” during the housing crisis.  

“It’s clear that the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and many opposition TDs fear seeking this resignation as they worry more of their own TDs have similarly broken SIPO regulations.”

Fire safety certificates

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s Chief Whip Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has called for Troy to publish fire safety certificates and documentation confirming planning permission for his properties.

Mac Lochlainn said media reports alleged that Troy does not have the relevant fire safety certification for one of his properties.

“This is a very serious allegation, which the Minister must address urgently. He must publish the fire safety certification and proof of planning permission for this and all of his properties in order to clarify this matter without delay.

“He also must confirm that all of his tenancies were registered with the Residential Tenancies Board for the duration of the tenancies and publish documentation confirming this.”

The Sinn Féin deputy said Troy must also publish proof that the money he received for rent in cash was “handled and processed in a way that was fully compliant” with tax regulation.

“If the Minister does not publish this documentation, his position will be untenable,” Mac Lochlainn said.

“The drip-feeding of allegations about Minister Troy’s property dealings is deeply damaging and risks undermining public confidence in him.

“He has been repeatedly urged to be open and transparent about these matters, so that there can be full accountability. Despite this, further claims continue to emerge on an almost daily basis.”

‘Basic ethical rules’

Earlier, Bacik said Troy displayed a “misinterpretation of basic ethical rules” around what TDs should disclose when speaking in the Dáil.

During yesterday’s interview, Dobson asked Troy if he had been in receipt of a rental scheme payment when he spoke about it in the Dáil in 2014.

Troy confirmed he was and added that he didn’t realise at the time that he had to declare his RAS schemes.

“It’s been portrayed as if I went into the Dáil and started kicking and screaming for an increase of payments for myself personally. I addressed the Housing Miscellaneous Bill as a constituency TD, as an opposition TD,” he told RTÉ. 

On this, Bacik said that members’ code of conduct that “clearly sets out the basic rule” around disclosure of interests during debates. 

“…If you don’t disclose, for example, that you have rental accommodation scheme contracts with a local authority, as he appears to have done, then you must declare that as material interest if you’re intervening in a debate on an issue like that.

“That’s a very clear rule, again, that’s been in place for a long time. And he doesn’t appear to have been aware of that rule.”

Additional reporting by Christina Finn and Orla Dwyer. 

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