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Taoiseach says there's no conflict of interest in Attorney General also being a landlord


‘Fully disclosed’: AG Paul Gallagher is listed as landlord of Dublin property. Picture: Tom Burke

‘Fully disclosed’: AG Paul Gallagher is listed as landlord of Dublin property. Picture: Tom Burke

‘Fully disclosed’: AG Paul Gallagher is listed as landlord of Dublin property. Picture: Tom Burke

Taoiseach Micheál Martin insisted there is no conflict of interest after it emerged the Attorney General, who raised legal concerns about extending the ban on evictions and rent increases, is a landlord.

"There is no issue there," a spokesperson for the Taoiseach said.

"The Taoiseach was made aware and the matter was fully disclosed to him in advance of Monday's cabinet meeting."

Attorney General Paul Gallagher, who lives in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, is listed on the Residential Tenancies Board's register as being the landlord of a property in Milltown, Dublin.

Mr Gallagher advised the Government that the legal underpinning for the rent freeze and eviction ban put in place since the coronavirus pandemic hit could be legally challenged, describing it as "uncertain".

He raised significant concerns about the constitutionality of extending the ban on evictions and rent increases.

Mr Gallagher, who is regarded as one of the leading barristers in the country, was appointed Attorney General for the second time in June.

The senior barrister was previously appointed by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as legal adviser to Fianna Fáil.

A spokesman for the Attorney General said: "The matter was fully disclosed to the Taoiseach and the Cabinet."

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien, who was at odds with Mr Gallagher over the extension, ultimately announced that the ban will be extended until August 1.

He had initially indicated to renters that the rent freeze would remain in place until October.

In an interview with the 'Sunday Independent' last month, the Housing Minister said: "In the short term [with] the certainty that gives and stability it gives, it would be useful to extend it for another three months."

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The move to extend the ban for a further 11 days was announced less than three hours before the previous ban expired as talks went down to the wire.

Housing activists are calling for the ban to be extended until next year, describing the situation as "inadequate".

John-Mark McCafferty, CEO of housing charity Threshold, said "rents should not be going up" at this difficult time.

"Threshold advises and assists private renters through our national helpline and in providing that service, we're seeing a permanent reduction in the incomes of some renters - those in hospitality, retail, administration and other sectors," he said.

"So, to allow rent to increase again over the short to medium term just isn't the right thing to do.

"The moratorium on rents needs to be extended for the time being."

The Irish Property Owners' Association (IPOA), a landlord organisation, said a rent freeze is "substantially damaging" and will "result in more landlords fleeing".

The IPOA said a rent freeze would reduce the amount of accommodation available.

However, Daft.ie's recent housing report showed there were 38pc more homes advertised to rent in June 2020 than a year previously.

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