Explained: What is the controversy over Robert Troy and his properties?

Minister of State Robert Troy has come under scrutiny after he failed to declare all details of his properties to the Dáil register of members’ interests
Explained: What is the controversy over Robert Troy and his properties?

Minister of State Robert Troy has resigned as a Minister of State  after he failed to declare all details of his properties to the Dáil register of members’ interests.

The Longford-Westmeath TD said he acted in "error" and was "embarrassed" that he did not fully disclose all of his properties.

Last week Mr Troy made numerous amendments to declarations he made to the register of members’ interests covering various years. On Wednesday night he said that last 10 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".

Mr Troy said he wanted to stress that he had made “genuine errors and human errors” which were not intentional.

He also said: "I personally will not apologise for being a landlord. I bought my first house at the age of 20 as I went straight into a job after school, so I was in a position to purchase my first property then. I am not a person of privilege and I have not been brought up with a silver spoon in my mouth, I have worked for all I have."

How many properties does Robert Troy own?

Mr Troy revealed on Tuesday that he owns, or part owns, six properties.

The Fianna Fáil TD said he currently has three properties in his own name and three in a partnership agreement.

One of the properties was sublet into three units and another into four.

In total, he has 11 units, nine of which are being rented out.

What properties were not disclosed?

The Ditch website first reported that Mr Troy had previously owned a property in Mullingar that he failed to declare the sale of to Westmeath County Council in 2018.

Oireachtas ethics rules require public office holders to declare contracts that they were a part of, directly or indirectly, if the value of the goods or services exceeded €6,500.

The first property, Ashfield in Mullingar, Co Westmeath was purchased by Mr Troy in 2008 and sold to Westmeath County Council in 2018. The property appeared on his register of members’ interests in 2011 until 2017, but he failed to register it in 2018.

Mr Troy said he did not know he had an obligation to register the property if he didn’t own it at the end of the year.

Mr Troy purchased a second property, called Ash Lawn in Longford, in May 2019 for €82,500 before selling it in August of that year for €163,000 after renovations, according to The Irish Times. He failed to register the property on his register of members interests because he did not own it at the end of that year.

A third property, called Oak Crest in Mullingar, was included in his register in 2019, but not in 2020 as he no longer had an interest at the end of that year.

Why did Mr Troy not disclose the properties?

Robert Troy said he had misinterpreted the requirements to disclose all of his properties. He said he thought he had to include only the holdings in place on the last day of the year of the return.

"That property was declared on my members’ interests between 2011 and 2017. Due to an error on my behalf, I left it off in 2018 as I sold the property during that year and I am in the process of amending that," he told RTÉ on Thursday last week.

Speaking again on Tuesday he said: "I didn’t give the process the due diligence that it deserved."

"I hold my hand up, I admit that. I thought I had got it right, but I didn’t."

Mr Troy rejected any allegation he had tried to conceal his property interests.

"I did not try to conceal anything. There was an error in my interpretation," he said.

Any other strands to this controversy?

Mr Troy admitted to the Sunday Times that one of the rental properties in question was not registered with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), which is an offence to fail to declare a tenant within one month.

The Junior Minister revealed that he is in receipt of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) for five tenants.

He was also receiving income under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) for two properties. During this period he used Dáil debate time to call for more money for landlords using the scheme.

The Fianna Fáil TD said he earns €780 per month under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) for a two-bedroom townhouse he rents out in Mullingar.

It is one of two properties he has leased to Westmeath County Council under the RAS agreement during his time as a TD.

He said the other rental contract started in August 2011 and ended in 2018 when he sold the property to the council.

How have the opposition parties reacted?

Needless to say, they are calling for more investigations into Mr Troy's affairs.

Last week People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy made a request to the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) asking for an investigation of whether there had been breaches of Mr Troy’s obligations under the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995.

The Green Party and Labour party have also called for further investigations into Mr Troy’s members’ interests.

Green Party leader - and Government Minister - Eamon Ryan said on Wednesday that the Dáil’s disciplinary committee should investigate Mr Troy’s adherence to the rules for disclosing property interests. Mr Ryan suggested that this should be done before the Dáil resumes next month.

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik has said Mr Troy still has questions to answer in relation to his property interests and the errors he made in declaring his property interests.

She said Mr Troy had shown a "careless disregard" for the mechanisms in place for TDs and Senators and must clarify matters still outstanding.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has described the errors made by Robert Troy in declaring his interests to the Dáil as a "misunderstanding".

What next? 

On Wednesday night, announcing his resignation, Mr Troy said: "I would like to re-affirm that I am more than happy to answer any questions Sipo or the RTB have and will of course give a full account in the Dáil if required once it returns."

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more