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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar describes Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy who hid property sales to local authorities as ‘top class’


Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has described under fire Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy as “top class” amid the controversy over the junior minister’s failure to declare properties he sold to local authorities.

The Fine Gael leader weighed in strongly behind the Fianna Fáil junior minister in his department after it emerged the Longford-Westmeath TD failed to declare three different properties he sold to local councils in his constituency.

“I've seen the work that he's done, as a minister of state in my department over the past two years and it really has been top class work so yes, I've total confidence in Minister Troy as a minister,” Mr Varadkar said.

The Tánaiste said the Clerk of the Dáil and the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) will carry out any further investigation into Troy’s failure to declare properties he sold to his local councils.

“I think it's important, really important, that he should be afforded due process in that regard,” he added.

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said the controversy raises “broader issues” around political ethics legislation in Ireland.

Mr Harris said he welcomed a review of the legislation ordered earlier this year by Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath and said he hoped this will make sure ethics legislation can be made as “up to date, modern and transparent as possible”.

“I think it's always really important that you review, keep under review, legislation, regulation, standards and transparency,” he added.

Sipo said politicians do not have to declare properties they sell to local authorities as they are not considered a “good or service” under existing legislation.

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

“As property is neither a good nor a service, this provision does not apply to contracts for the sale of property to a minister of the Government or a public body. In light of this, there is no obligation to disclose such contracts,” Sipo said.

TDs are required to declare property they own in the previous calendar year when they file their Dáil declaration. Mr Troy, who is a TD for over a decade, said he did not record the three properties he sold to a local authorities as he misunderstood the rules on declaration.

Green Party Minister Pippa Hackett backed Mr Troy and said it was a matter for Sipo if they wished to obtain more powers from Government to enforce political ethics rules.

"I know Minister Troy there has been some issues but he has acknowledged those and the errors and I think he issued a statement last night - I haven’t read it - but he’s going to amend them," she said.

Asked whether it was right that TDs and Ministers did not have to disclose property sales to local authorities and public bodies, Ms Hackett said: “Well, if those are the rules, I don’t know. I fill the form out myself based on what is asked.

"It’s up to Sipo to decide what they want from politicians. If Sipo wants to force some changes well then they do need to continue to interact with Government on that.”

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