A fortnight of apologies and clarifications that led to Robert Troy’s resignation
27th August 2022
OVER THE LAST WEEK the pressure on embattled Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy over his ‘omitted’ property declarations intensified.
A fortnight of apologies and clarifications that led to Robert Troy’s resignation© Sam Boal Photocall Ireland
Despite several apologies and clarifications from the TD for the constituency of Longford/Westmeath, the scandal ultimately culminated in his resignation as Minister of State on Wednesday evening.
A lot happened – and was revealed – over the two weeks since it first emerged he had failed to declare the sale of a property to a local authority.
Let’s take a look back at how it unfolded.
Wednesday, 10 August
The Ditch reported that Minister of State for Trade Promotion Robert had failed to include his sale of a property in Mullingar to Westmeath County Council for €230,000 in his declaration to the Standards In Public Office Commission (Sipo).
Troy had never declared the sale of the property in his Dáil returns despite being legally required to do so under the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995.
The act requires Dáil members to declare the sale of any goods or services to public bodies if the value exceeded €6,500.
Thursday, 11 August
Troy was asked about it by Philip Boucher Hayes when he appeared on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne show.
He said he was “wrongly” under the impression that he was only required to declare a property in his possession at the end of December when he submitted the form. As he had sold the property earlier that year he did not think he was obliged to include it.
Troy acknowledged this was an error and said he intended to amend his declaration.
Monday, 15 August
The Ditch had another story about the Fianna Fáil TD. It reported that he had not declared the sale of a second property to another local authority.
It was reported that in 2019 he had bought a four-bed house in Longford’s Ash Lawns estate for €82,000 and three months later sold it to Longford County Council for €163,000.
Tuesday, 16 August
It was reported that a tenant of Troy’s at the Westmeath property claimed the TD “insisted on cash payments for rent”.
The Fianna Fáil TD refuted – and continues to refute – this claim, stating that Westmeath County Council paid rent for this property through electronic transfer from 1 August 2011 to the date the tenancy ended. He has also confirmed that rent payments were always declared in his annual tax returns.
Wednesday, 17 August
The Ditch reported that Troy had failed to declare a property company directorship in his Dáil register of members’ interests.
TDs are required under ethics legislation to declare all their directorships in the annual Dáil register.
His directorship had been declared in 2019 and 2020 but he failed to include it in his latest declaration for 2021.
Troy later explained that the company ceased operations in 2020 and he was unaware the Voluntary Strike-Off process he had initiated with the Companies Registration Office was not formally completed until 2021.
Thursday, 18 August
Troy released a lengthy statement clarifying the amendments he had submitted to the Clerk of the Dáil and to Sipo.
- The sale of Ashlawn in Longford in 2019, which he said was omitted in error as the property was bought and sold that year.
- Another property in Mullingar, in Oak Crest, which had been registered in 2019 but was omitted “in error” in 2020 as it was sold that year.
- Troy’s former registered private dwelling house at Main Street in Ballynacargy which has been rented out since November 2021.
- His directorship at RMT Management Limited in 2021.
Troy also provided to Sipo a number of other details that legally he does not have to declare.
This included two Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) contracts with Westmeath County Council.
Troy said he regretted his “omissions and errors” and apologised unreservedly, noting that his conduct “could be seen as my deflection or disregard of my responsibilities as public representative”.
Friday, 19 August
People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy, who had already written to Sipo asking it to investigate Troy’s omissions, again wrote to the Commission, this time asking it to probe whether his non-declaration of Rent Assistance Scheme contracts with Westmeath County Council constituted a breach of ethics legislation.
Sunday, 21 August
The Sunday Times reported that Troy has admitted a rental tenancy at his former primary residence at Main Street in Ballynacargy was not registered with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).
It is an offence not to register a tenancy with the RTB within one month of the start of the tenancy. Troy has said he would pay the late fee.
Monday, 22 August
The Irish Independent reported Troy used Dail speaking time to call for more funding for the Rental Accommodation Scheme.
Tuesday, 23 August
Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, Troy said he was “embarrassed” about his “very serious mistake”.
He clarified that he currently owns or co-owns 11 properties, nine of which are rented out. He denied that he had attempted to conceal anything, stating that there was “an error in his interpretation”.
Meanwhile, The Ditch reported that Troy did not seek planning permission for the conversion of a co-owned seven-bedsit property in Dublin 7 into a four-unit property.
It was confirmed that the property does not have a fire safety certificate, with Troy saying today that none was required. Troy told RTÉ that his properties are compliant with all regulations, including fire regulations.
Wednesday, 24 August
The Irish Independent revealed that Dublin City Council issued a formal warning letter and initiated an investigation for alleged unauthorised development outside of designated working hours on Troy’s property at Rathdown Road in Phibsborough in July 2020. This file is still open.
In a fresh statement Troy said he and his co-owner had received advice from the architect-engineer that oversaw the development that the building pre-dated current planning laws and building regulations. He said Dublin City Council advised that no planning was required.
He said the advice from the architect-engineer was that, as there was no material change of use, an application for a fire safety certificate was not required. All works were completed to the relevant fire safety regulations including the addition of a fire escape as part of these fire safety measures, he added.
There was unease among some of Troy’s Fianna Fáil colleagues, as opposition politicians called for him to resign from his position.
Although his fellow junior minister Josepha Madigan expressed “full confidence” in him when she appeared on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, a harsher approach was taken by Green Party leader Eamon Ryan during his own RTÉ radio interview that afternoon.
He called for investigations into Robert Troy’s handling of his property interests by an Oireachtas committee and Sipo.
Ryan said Troy’s “significant errors” have the effect of “undermining confidence in the political system” and that the issue needs to be addressed quickly.
Just after 9pm, Troy issued another statement officially announcing his resignation as a Minister of State.
He said the last number of days had been “extremely difficult”. Troy reiterated that he had never tried to conceal anything and said his biggest offence was his lack of due diligence.
“However, one issue in isolation is excusable but the number of errors now that are of my making directly or indirectly has led me to this decision,” he said.
Troy apologised for what he described as “genuine errors and human errors” that were not intentional.
The now former junior minister also took aim at “some media”, over an alleged narrative that “landlords are villains”. He said some media “had taken stories verbatim without verification that have been factually incorrect, they have printed inaccurate headlines and misleading articles and failed to make corrections when asked”.
Troy concluded his statement by requesting “some time, space, and privacy at this time from all media”.