By Michelle Devane, PA
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has called for two investigations into Junior Minister Robert Troy’s failure to declare all his property dealings.
Mr Ryan said the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) should initiate an investigation into the matter and that it should also be examined by an Oireachtas committee once the Dáil returns next month.
He described the “significant errors” made by the Minister of State with Responsibility for Trade Promotion as “very disappointing”, adding that it undermines confidence in the political system.
Mr Troy has been at the centre of a controversy in recent weeks after he failed to declare all his property dealings to the Dáil register of members’ interests.
“It’s very disappointing.
“He admitted his errors, significant errors in the declaration and registration of property interests and that does undermine confidence in the political system,” Mr Ryan told RTÉ Radio 1’s News At One on Wednesday.
“Under our Ethics Act, there is very clear procedures in terms of how the Standards in Public Office can carry out a commission of investigation, I think they should.
“I think included in that we need clarity on what exactly are the rules around rental contracts, as to how they need to be declared, that is not clear at this present moment in time, that has come out with this whole issue.”
Mr Ryan said he had spoken with the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl about the issue.
“I believe it would be possible for the likes of the Oireachtas Committee on Procedures, Privileges and Oversight to have a full investigation,” he said.
“Under the ethics guidelines, office holders are accountable to the Oireachtas.
“I think it would be appropriate if that was done before the return of the Dáil and I think any questions the Opposition or indeed members of Government might have could be asked there and could be dealt with in the appropriate manner.”
Opposition TDs have called on Mr Troy to give further clarity on the matter.
Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik said the minister’s “catalogue of omissions” showed a “careless disregard” for the mechanisms introduced to prevent corruption in this country.
Ms Bacik said she believed the Longford-Westmeath TD still has “questions to answer”.
— The Labour Party (@labour) August 24, 2022
Mr Troy has apologised to his constituents, Government and Dáil colleagues, the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) and the public over “errors” he made.
In an interview on RTÉ Radio 1 on Tuesday he said was “embarrassed” by the lack of “due diligence” he gave to the register.
The minister had to make a total of seven amendments to the register and to Sipo.
“At best his catalogue of omissions, failures to declare disclosed a real disregard, a careless disregard if I may say, for the mechanisms introduced to prevent corruption,” Ms Bacik told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme.
“I think Robert Troy 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.”
She added: “The allegations of failures to disclose were first made two weeks ago.
“It’s nearly three weeks until the Dail resumes.
“We simply cannot wait that long, and he must clarify matters that are still outstanding.”
Ms Bacik described the controversy as a “distraction for Government”.
She said: “I think by the end of this week if matters haven’t been clarified, if Robert Troy hasn’t been able to clear up the outstanding questions, I think his own Government colleagues will be calling for him to go.”
Asked whether it is a resignation issue, Ms Bacik said: “It can become so when there is a such a catalogue of omissions and when there is, as we’ve seen, a drip feed of allegations.”
During Tuesday’s interview Mr Troy revealed that he has a total of 11 properties, nine of which are rented out, and is also in receipt of Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) and Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) payments.
He said he has three properties in his own name, one of which includes his constituency office.