Perry faces serious political consequences following €2.47m judgment
Analysis: resignation calls may await Minister of State for Small Business after Dáil recess
Unless Perry finds a solution over the next five weeks it is clear there will be calls for his resignation.
Perry is known to have made big investments during the boom years and his subsequent financial difficulties have been known for some time. In the 2012 register of interests for the Dáil he declares a substantial portfolio of assets, mostly in Ballymote. They include a supermarket, a funeral home, 40 acres of woodland, 16 acres of agricultural land, constituency offices, a hotel, and a house on 2½ acres.
The case against the Perrys was heard in the Commercial Court, which is a fast-track route.
Danske Bank would have the option, under the new Personal Insolvency Act, to initiate bankruptcy proceedings. As David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders’ Organisation pointed out, that provision of the new Act can be used by debtors but it’s a double-edged sword. “It is open to be used by creditors as well,” he said.
Under section 41 of the Electoral Act 1992, an undischarged bankrupt is disqualified from being a TD or a Senator. If a person is declared bankrupt the only option open is to resign his or her seat.
Hall says that if the bank was intent on pursuing the issue it could happen relatively quickly.
But the bankruptcy bar to membership of the Houses of the Oireachtas could be open to question before the courts.
In their updated edition of the late Prof John Kelly’s seminal book The Irish Constitution, Gerard Hogan and Gerry Whyte assert that that provision of the Electoral Act (barring bankrupts and prisoners from being TDs) could be vulnerable to a constitutional challenge.
“[The exclusion could not] be justified by reference to some wider concept of the public interest (in the sense that it would be generally undesirable if a member of the Dáil were either a prisoner or a bankrupt) since the power to disqualify would not seem designed to protect the electorate from the consequences of its own foolishness,” they wrote.
John Perry Profile
John Perry (56) is a businessman from Ballymote, Co Sligo, who has been a TD since 1997. His family business includes a supermarket, hardware shop, funeral home, restaurant and hotel, all centred around his native town.
His experience in running small businesses has informed much of his Dáil career. He was chair of the Public Accounts Committee for two years between 2002 and 2004 and party spokesman on small business in the run-up to the general election. He was a supporter of Enda Kenny during the leadership challenge in 2010 and his appointment may have been helped by Fine Gael winning two out of three seats in Sligo-North Leitrim for the first time.