Troy admits ‘error’ over failure to declare property

A local Junior Minister has admitted he made an “error” by not declaring a house he owned and subsequently sold to Westmeath County Council in 2018.

Robert Troy, who is Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, said he had “misinterpreted the requirements of the Register of Members' Interests” and intends to amend his records.

The house was sold to Westmeath County Council at a loss to facilitate the development of social housing, he said.

Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas must make an annual statement of their registerable interests which includes other occupations, directorships, shares, properties they own and gifts they have received.

However, they are also required to declare any contracts they have with public bodies which are worth more than €6,500.

Minister Troy also admitted that he is aware of two other properties of his that have been omitted or partially omitted and should have been registered, one in Longford town and another in Oakcrest, Mullingar.

“Last week I received a query about a property I had owned and subsequently sold to Westmeath County Council and upon review of this it became apparent I had misinterpreted the requirements of the Register of Members' Interests.

“I had been under the impression only property in my possession on December 31 of the registerable year was to be registered and not properties sold during that year. I immediately contacted the Clerk of the Dáil and subsequently SIPO to clarify the requirements and to notify my intent to amend the Register of Members' Interests,” Minister Troy said in a statement on Monday, confirming that he had bought the home subsequently sold to the local authority at a public auction in Mullingar back in 2008.

On election to the Dáil in 2011, he registered this property on his Members' Interest form right up to 2017.

“In 2018, at the request of the local authority I sold this property at a loss to facilitate the building of social housing. As I was no longer in possession of this property on 31 December 2018 it was not registered and this was my error,” he conceded.

“I am aware of two further properties that have been omitted or partially omitted and should have been registered; one in Longford town which was bought, renovated and sold in 2019 and was omitted in total, and another property Oak Crest, Mullingar which was declared in 2019 and excluded in 2020.

“I am in the process of reviewing all of Members' Interests returns since I was elected to the Dáil in 2011 and I intend to amend and update the Register accordingly this week to correct any inaccuracies," he said in a statement.

Speaking on the RTE Radio 1's Claire Byrne Show after a report on the matter first appeared on the website, Mr Troy said he was contacted by the council who wanted to purchase the house in Mullingar because “they needed a right of way over the garden to access land they owned and now have plans to build in excess of 20 houses for older people, social houses. I did not wish to stand in way of the development of social houses for older people.”

Asked how he declared it for six years and then forgot the year he sold it, the TD responded by saying he was “under the impression wrongly” that you declared the property that was in your possession when you made the declaration at the end of December.

“It was an error on my part and I'm going to amend it,” he said.

Westmeath County Council has yet to comment on a query from the Westmeath Independent on the sale of the home.

Robert Troy was a member of Westmeath County Council between 2004 and 2011 before being elected to the Dail.