‘Landlord minister’ quits over undeclared deals

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Fianna Fáil minister of State Robert Troy has resigned ten days into a mounting scandal over undeclared property dealings and his large property portfolio.

In a statement issued by his party shortly after 9pm on Wednesday, the Longford-Westmeath TD said a “number of errors” made by him “directly or indirectly” had led him to decide to resign as minister. He insisted the “errors” were “genuine and human” and “not intentional”.

Political pressure had been building on Troy for several days.

He said he would “not apologise for being a landlord”. He added: “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.”

All TDs are required to register their properties and other financial interests, but Troy’s repeated failure to fulfil the requirements, which he described as “a lack of due diligence”, were followed by other accusations and revelations by Dublin-based news website ‘The Ditch’.

Among them were that he had no planning permission or fire safety certification for flats he rented at exorbitant prices; that some of the properties and property sales were not declared; that his properties were in a dangerous condition; that he had failed to declare directorship of at least one property company; and that his profits from transactions with local councils were inexplicably high.

More than a third of the Dublin parliament are registed landlords, a fact thought to be at the root of the failure of successive 26 County governments to tackle skyrocketing rents and vaulting house prices.

But in the absence of an examination of the financial holdings of legislators, the true scale of their property dealings may be far bigger. There have been calls for the self-declared ‘Register of Members’ Interests’ of TDs and Senators to be subjected to a rigorous investigation.

The scandal has also provoked a fresh wave of public cynicism and despair over the backroom ‘stroke’ deals and gombeen-style corruption of Irish right-wing politicians.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy accused Troy of profiting from Ireland’s housing crisis, saying, “We have government for landlords by landlords in this country.”

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD said that the coalition government’s “failed approach to housing” had been “laid bare” for all to see.

“Throughout this period both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste offered their full support describing Robert Troy as a ‘first class Minister’. Indeed earlier today the Tánaiste was still continuing to fight to maintain Mr Troy’s position in government.

“Tonight’s inevitable announcement from Robert Troy casts very serious questions on their judgement and those are questions that will not go away as a result of this action.

“The provision of social and affordable housing has been sub-contracted to the private sector under successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments. The result for ordinary people is exorbitant rents, rocketing homelessness and the fact that the ability to purchase a home has been put well beyond reach of the majority.

“That policy will not change with the resignation of Minister Troy. That policy will only change with a new government.”

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