Anatomy of a political downfall that left the Coalition exposed – The Irish Times


Every January, Dáil and Seanad politicians must sit down and complete a detailed declaration disclosing any interest, whether in land, contracts or shares. The rules are clear. Any income over €2,600 the previous year implies that the trade or profession from which it comes must be declared.

For example, Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield stated in his statements that he is also a barista at Rialto in Dublin in addition to being a musician.

Any investment in a company worth more than €13,000 must be declared, as well as any interest in land above the same value, but not the family or personal home. Any gift worth more than €650 must be disclosed.

The same applies to any contract for the supply of goods or services over €6,500.

TDs even receive a code of conduct document that makes them understand the importance of fostering and maintaining public trust and maintaining trust. They are told that it is up to them to make sure they have read the guidelines and laws correctly, and they are given plenty of detailed material to help them understand what is required.

For some politicians, this might well have looked like just another administrative job to tick off the to-do list – until now.

For Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy, who resigned as Minister of State for Business Regulation on Wednesday night, the roots of his downfall go back to those January days in the years he sat down to fill those same forms.

For the first summer since the start of the pandemic, it has been relatively calm, politically speaking. Amid this lull, on August 10, The Ditch site launched a series of articles that began with a story about a house Troy sold in 2018, but was never mentioned on his tax return. interests.

Along with that was an unqualified apology, which was never going to cut it with the opposition

When the TD appeared on RTÉ Radio the day after the first story was published, he apologized and said he was under the mistaken impression that only property in your possession on the date of return should be declared. He said he would modify the registry following his mistake.

The reprieve was short-lived, however, as it immediately emerged that the same thing had happened in 2019, and also that he had failed to declare a corporate director term in 2021. His explanation of the issue with the company in question, RMT management, was that he believed it had been liquidated at the time he made his statements that year.

Suddenly one mistake had become two, then three, with more to come.

At this point, the story caught the attention of Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar who were peppered with questions about it during summer gates with reporters. There was some feeling within the government that there was nothing worth panicking about right now, as long as Troy got his stuff together and released a full statement.

This came under the direction of the Taoiseach who told him to release all relevant information, for the sake of transparency but also no doubt in the hope of putting an end to the gallop of a story that threatened to become the story of the summer. – something no politician wants during the scorching days of August.

What was not expected was the scope of the amendments to the declaration of interests that Troy published on August 18.

It included the sale of buildings in 2018 and 2019; another property in Mullingar which was omitted in 2020; reports that his former private Main Street accommodation in Ballynacargy in County Westmeath had been rented since November 2021; the sale of a garden at 25a Rathdown Road in Phibsborough, Dublin 7 as well as new information on two Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) contracts he had with Westmeath County Council.

Along with that was an unqualified apology, which was never going to cut it with the opposition.

The Trojan case raises questions about standards, transparency and conflict

Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy resigned as Minister of State on Wednesday after weeks of controversy over his failure to properly declare business interests, including rental properties and company directorships. To discuss the case and what was learned from it, Hugh is joined by Fintan O’Toole, Jennifer Bray and Pat Leahy.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy filed a complaint with the Standards for Public Service Commission (Sipo) and late last weekend it also emerged, via the Sunday Times, that Troy failed to register rental with the Residential Tenancies Board, as it is legally required to do.

At this point, anxiety levels among Fianna Fáil members began to skyrocket. His TD colleagues, who until now had believed he would weather the summer storm, began to have doubts. Journalists began receiving text messages from concerned factions asking, “How bad is this going to get?”

The answer was: significantly worse.

The weekly news cycle kicked off this week with a front page headline in the Irish Independent revealing that the Fianna Fáil TD had used the Dáil’s speaking time to ask for more funding for the RAS, at a time when it had a such contract with the board. . What made the atmosphere even more feverish was the fact that Troy and his team were unresponsive to questions from individual reporters. Instead, the requests remained in abeyance and therefore multiplied.

His assertion that he would instead approach the Dáil about it when he returned in September fell apart like a lead balloon.

Feeling the heat in the air, the Longford Westmeath TD took to the airwaves on Tuesday to tell RTÉ’s Bryan Dobson he was embarrassed and sorry but was not trying to hide anything. For the first time, he revealed he owned or co-owned 11 properties, nine of which are rented, and had five Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contracts.

A Fianna Fáil TD veteran listened to the interview.

“I was grinding my teeth. I really feared for him. Speaking privately, another senior TD said: “It’s definitely not going to be enough.” There was a constant flow of information that caused deep unease within the coalition, even as party leaders continued to voice their support in public.

There is a tipping point with every political controversy – it happened on Wednesday.

Sources around Troy say he came into the day ready to fight and ready to refute new claims that his Phibsborough property, which he co-owns, lacked the proper fire certification. Even though some of his staff were due to go on vacation that day, they stayed to ensure relevant statements were released.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan then went on the radio and suggested not one but two potential investigations that could be carried out into the matter by both the Sipo and the Dáil Oversight Committee. Depending on who you talk to in the Coalition, it was either Ryan stating the blindingly obvious or Ryan putting the boot into it.

Meanwhile, a myriad of questions continued to be asked by reporters, including from The Irish Times which had become aware of complaints made in 2019 by locals about the condition of the aforementioned Phibsborough property. There was no response from Troy Wednesday night to questions about how the complaints were handled.

For all intents and purposes, the shutters were down until Troy announced just after 9 p.m. that he was stepping down. He again apologized but hit out at the media, saying he wasn’t embarrassed to be an owner. He said the number of mistakes he had made led him to the conclusion that it was time to leave; he resigned from his ministerial post, but is still TD.

It was a fact, but it’s also likely that the questions kept coming and the exam was getting unbearably intense. And while he asked for time, space and privacy, the fallout from the debacle will likely linger with questions raised over Martin and Varadkar’s judgment.


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