Deputy Robert Troy gave evidence at a SIPO hearing.

Troy admits errors, but says he had 'nothing to hide'

Former Minister of State Robert Troy has insisted his business and property interests were “an open book” and he had “nothing to hide”. While he made mistakes in completing documents registering those interests, every property and position he ever held was registered, often over multiple years, he said.

Giving evidence during an open hearing of a Standards in Public Office (Sipo) commission investigation into allegations against him, Mr Troy said he accepted he made errors in the manner he completed his register of interests as a Dáil deputy. As reported in The Irish Times, he insisted, however, these included registering properties solely under the “occupation” section of his returns rather than for a second time on each return under the “land” section.

Other mistakes included failing to register directorships, or companies related to his properties, and stakes in some of those properties in end of year returns. He said he mistakenly believed once a property had been sold, or a directorship exited, in a particular year, they did not need to be declared in a return for the end of that year.

He now accepted he was mistaken in this belief, which had resulted in him making the same error repeatedly in his returns. But he also said his ownership, or part ownership, of all of his 11 properties, and his directorships, were registered in the previous years.

The SIPO statutory investigation into allegations Mr Troy breached ethics legislation is looking into his alleged failure to declare all his property ownership in his annual declarations setting out his interests, many of which he concedes, but insists were by error rather than any effort to conceal.

The SIPO commission will not solely consider whether errors, or breaches of legislation, took place but also if they were inadvertent, negligent, reckless or intentional and whether they were serious or minor in nature.

Mr Troy’s legal team said he had made a supplementary declaration of interest, amending his errors, in 2022. In doing so he had availed of a mechanism open to anyone legally obliged to declare their interests. His defence also told the commission the errors made were “minor” and “inadvertent” in nature “certainly not intentional, certainly not reckless”.

Mr Troy told Hugh McDowell BL, representing the commission at the hearing, that he had completed all the returns himself but was now “sorry” he had not “sought professional advice” when doing so. If he had sought out that advice “I wouldn’t be here today” and “perhaps” would not have missed out on being a junior minister, he said.

Mr Troy, a Fianna Fáil TD for the Longford-Westmeath constituency, “hoped” his explanations at the hearing on Monday, June 10, “demonstrate these errors were in no way intentional and at no point did I try to conceal any of my information or any of the interests I had in any property or any directorships”.

He said when it was brought to his attention that his statement of members interests “may be inaccurate or there may be errors” he carried out a review of all such returns down the years since first elected to the Dáil.

“It then became apparent to me that I had inadvertently excluded certain assets or certain interests under certain headings,” he told the hearing, adding he then made amendments. But he insisted he had “always acknowledged” the errors after they came to light – initially on The Ditch website – and “took full responsibility” for them, adding that was why he had resigned as a minister of state at the Department of Enterprise in 2022.

The SIPO commission must now, as part of its investigation, consider the evidence heard on Monday, and the documents they have received in relation to the case and draw up a report.