Michelle Devane, PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has described the errors made by Robert Troy in declaring his interests to the Dáil as a “misunderstanding”.
Mr Martin said Mr Troy had “corrected and amended” the record, adding that he was a “very effective” minister.
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.
The Fianna Fáil leader said the Longford-Westmeath TD had given a comprehensive statement on the matter and that he is a “very effective” minister.
Mr Martin was speaking in Bantry, Co Cork on Monday.
The Taoiseach said: “He has given a comprehensive statement in relation to the issues and he’s clarified and apologised for what transpired.
“Clearly the fact is that he had declared many, many of those properties in previous years but not in a particular year because of a misunderstanding on his part.
“Nonetheless, he has apologised for that. He has corrected and he has amended the record in respect of his declarations.”
He added: “He’s a very effective Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, he has worked very hard and he works very diligently at his job.”
In the latest error, Mr Troy admitted to The Sunday Times that one of his rental properties was not registered with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).
It is an offence to fail to register a tenancy with the RTB within one month of the tenancy commencing.
Mr Martin said Mr Troy had “updated issues in relation to registration of properties”.
He added that it is “open to SIPO (Standards In Public Office Commission) at any stage to assess any complaints that are made to SIPO in respect of any individual”.
Opposition TD Paul Murphy has called on Mr Troy to step down from his role.
He told Virgin Media News: “I think Minister Troy’s position is completely untenable.
“In the best case scenario his version of the story is that he was deeply incompetent over very many years in filling out his register of interests.”
Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy has called on the Fianna Fáil TD to make a “comprehensive” statement on the matter when the Dail returns next month.
“The drip feed of information from Robert Troy has been deeply unsatisfactory,” she said.
“As a Junior Minister in Government, with responsibility for company regulation, it beggars belief that Mr Troy would fail to declare his directorship of a property management company in his Dáil register of members’ interests.”
She called on Mr Troy “in the interests of transparency” to confirm if he has leased out properties to Westmeath County Council, under the RAS scheme, since 2011 and to confirm the value of those contracts.
“This controversy has again highlighted the toothless nature of the state’s ethics watchdog SIPO – which has been crying out for increased powers of investigation and enforcement for years. Those pleas, to date, have fallen on deaf ears,” she added.
Last week, Mr Troy issued a statement outlining all the amendments he has had to make to the Oireachtas register of declarations of interest.
He made a total of seven entries in the amended document, which included the rental property on Main Street in Ballynacargy.