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Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Julien Behal/RollingNews
# Robert Troy
Robert Troy says he didn't do his 'due diligence' on members' interests returns
‘I can only admit I got it wrong, I’m embarrassed at how wrong I got it,’ Troy said.

LAST UPDATE | Aug 23rd 2022, 3:55 PM

MINISTER OF STATE for Trade Promotion, Robert Troy told RTÉ Radio’s News at One that he failed to do his “due diligence” before signing his members’ interests returns.

Troy began the interview with Bryan Dobson by apologising to his constituents, colleagues in the Dáil and to SIPO.

“There is an allegation or a charge that somehow I tried to conceal my interests from the public, and that is factually incorrect. Bar one property, I have made reference to every other interest, every other property at some stage in my members’ interest returns,” he said.

The Minister of State with Responsibility for Trade Promotion has been forced to correct the Dáil’s register of declarations of interest after he failed to include several properties.

He reiterated that a property he owned in Mullingar in 2018 was not on his Dáil register of declared interests because he mistakenly believed that this was unnecessary because he had sold the property before the end of the year.

Dobson challenged him, saying that this amounted to concealment and asked Troy if he had read the declaration of interests before signing it.

“I’m guilty that I didn’t give the process to due diligence that it deserved. And as a consequence of that I didn’t fully account for my interests,” he said.

“I hold my hand up and I admit that I was wrong. And I can assure you and your listeners that that’s not something that I’ll do again.”

Sale of a house to a local authority

Dobson asked him about a property he had bought in Longford for €82,500 in May 2019, which he sold to the county council for €163,000 in August 2019.

“You’ve doubled your money in three months. How did you do that?” he asked.

Troy said that the property had been on the market for sale for 12 months before he bought it.

“It was in an uninhabitable state and needed repairs, ceilings had fallen, the kitchen needed fixing, doors hanging off the hinges and so there was a substantial amount of work to be done.”

After paying for the cost of repairs he had made €36,000 not including taxes, he told Dobson.

The Fianna Fáil minister then said that he currently has six properties in his own name, including his constituency office, and has joint ownership of three other properties.

One of these properties is divided into three rental units and another is divided into four units.

Cash payments

Troy stated that an allegation had been made that he had insisted on cash payments for the duration of a particular tenancy and that he wanted to refute the claim.

He said he had a signed affidavit from the tenant in question contradicting the claim.

“As well as that, for a large portion of that tenancy that rent was paid by Westmeath County Council through a Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) agreement.”

He continued that the tenant had insisted on paying rent in cash in that instance and he had obliged.

“In the lifetime of my time in the Dáil I’ve had two rental agreements schemes. One predates my membership of the Daíl and currently exists,” he said.

“I’m receiving €780 a month from Westmeath County Council for a two bedroom townhouse in Mullingar. That equates to €9,360 and that property is joint-owned and only 50% of that is relevant to me.”

The other RAS agreement ran from August 2011 until summer 2018, before the council bought the property, Troy said.

He added that he was also currently receiving Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) on five properties but HAP is not required to be declared on the members’ interests form.

Dobson then asked him if he had been in receipt of RAS in 2014 when he spoke about it in the Dáil.

Troy responded:

“It was a debate on the Housing Miscellaneous Bill. And I took the opportunity to speak on a range of issues; the tenant purchase scheme, antisocial behavior, domestic abuse.”

He 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.”

Residential Tenancies Board

Dobson then asked why it had taken Troy several months to register a tenancy with the RTB at the site of the Ballynacarrigy Post Office in Westmeath.

Troy had begun renting the property in November 2021 but did not register it until this month despite being required to register it in November.

Troy said that the property was managed by a letting agency who he had instructed to register the property but this was not done.

“I have asked for that tenancy to be registered with the RTB, it was only when this controversy arose that it became apparent that this hadn’t been completed.”

“The legal responsibility is with me. But when you ask somebody to do a job, you expect it to be done. Unfortunately, there was an error made on this occasion. It wasn’t done. But when the error was identified, I can guarantee you that corrections were in place.” 

Troy concluded by saying that he would make himself available to the Dáil in September and would meet with SIPO about the situation.

Opposition reaction

Sinn Féin Chief Whip, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, called on the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to ensure full accountability from Troy and to “stop providing cover” for him.

“It is alarming to the public that a Government Minister is alleged to have taken rent payments in cash,” he said in a statement this afternoon.

“He needs to clarify what the total sum of these cash payments amounted to and how he handled this cash.

“He must demonstrate that he was fully compliant with tax regulations for any cash payments he received.

“The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have insisted that they have full confidence in the Minister despite these damaging and highly concerning allegations coming to light.”

Support

Speaking to reporters today Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage of Ireland, Darragh O’Brien has offered his support to his party colleague and said that Troy acted properly. 

In the press conference he said: “I’m not in obviously au fait with the financial details within it, but everything was done very openly and very true and transparently.”

“Robert has said in his interview today that he has done so and he is fully up to date. I know he’ll be engaging directly with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). I’m not ofay with all of the details within it.

“I think he’s dealt with it very comprehensively. All his affairs are fully up to date and where there was a late registration there he has paid that late registration fee. That is permitted under the process with the RTB for late registrations, which you pay. You pay an additional penalty for that – which I understand he has done,” the Minister said.  

O’Brien said that he believes his colleague made a mistake and will address the Dáil when it returns. 

“You know, whatever people are involved in, I think that the important thing is is that the the declarations that were made have been amended, very clearly made. Again Robert said he made a mistake.

“He’s held his hands up, he’s rectified that he’s he has engaged in a very detailed interview today about a half an hour on news at one where he answered all the questions and he will be taking he will be making a statement in the dail when the Dáil resumes,” he added.