A common thread throughout Robert Troy’s life and career is that he has frequently been the youngest – whether in his family, job or politics.
He is the youngest of 12 children, was a manager with AIB aged 21, and became the youngest TD in the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party when first elected to the Dáil in 2011.
A question that has arisen during the controversy over the former minister of State’s business interests is how by the age of 40 he managed to amass such a spread of property. His investments began during the Celtic Tiger era and continue to the present day. He has a current portfolio of 11 fully or part-owned properties, nine of which are being rented out.
An examination of Troy’s career provides some clues as to how this has been possible. Key to his success appears to be getting a foot on the property ladder early, building on that and securing mortgages for numerous investments.
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However, that success has now stalled his political aspirations, with the Longford-Westmeath deputy resigning from his role at the Department of Enterprise on Wednesday due to controversy over his failure to fully disclose his property interests as required under ethics legislation.
Troy is from Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath, where his family has run the post office for years. One local source described the Troys as a “big GAA family”, “respected”, “hard-working” and “high-achieving”.
He took up a job with AIB in 1999 – when he was 17 – and worked in Dublin branches while attaining certificates in business, mortgage advice and investment advice.
During his four years with the bank he went on to become – as he put it in a 2011 interview with the Westmeath Examiner – “one of the youngest customer relationship managers with AIB”. It was also during this time that he bought his first home at age 20, as revealed in his resignation statement, which he used to criticise the vilification of landlords.
“I personally will not apologise for being a landlord,” he said. “I went straight into a job after school, so I was in a position to purchase my first property then.”
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Troy returned to Westmeath to contest the 2004 local elections for Fianna Fáil, winning a council seat aged 22.
He took over as postmaster in the family business and in 2005 started working as a parliamentary assistant for former Fianna Fáil TD and senator Donie Cassidy, whose support for young people entering politics was commended by Troy.
He secured a certificate in property valuation in 2007 and registered a business name, Troy’s Auctioneers, with an address on Main Street, Ballynacargy, in 2008. He bought a property in Ashfield, Mullingar, at auction in the same year, which he rented out.
Troy’s election in 2011 as a first-time TD for Longford-Westmeath was one of the few positives for Fianna Fáil in the disastrous post-economic crash general election. The Ashfield property appeared on the Dáil’s register of members’ interests from 2011 until 2017 but was not declared in 2018, the year he sold it to Westmeath County Council.
His dual career in politics and property has provided fuel for critics since Troy’s declarations came under scrutiny this month. He has been criticised for not declaring a personal interest when he contributed to a 2014 Dáil debate on the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS). The TD has since revealed he has two RAS contracts with the council.
In February 2016, Troy won his second Dáil term and became Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesman. Land Registry records show he and a business partner, John Noel McGivney, earlier that month were listed as the joint owners of a property on Rathdown Road, Dublin 7. The property – split into four units – remains part of Troy’s portfolio.
Around this time, he was widely praised for speaking out in the Dáil about mental health and his own struggles with anxiety. On the liberal wing of Fianna Fáil, Troy revealed that he voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which led to the liberalisation of the State’s abortion laws, a disclosure that led to him later reportedly being refused Communion at a church in Co Westmeath.
In 2019, he set up what he described in his declaration that year as a “property management” company, RMT Management Limited, along with his long-term partner Aideen Ginnell, who he married last year.
He failed to declare his directorship of the company last year, saying he had thought it had ceased operations. This omission was seized upon by critics due to his role as the minister of State with responsibility for company regulation.
Also in 2019, Troy failed to declare a property at Ashlawn, Co Longford, which he bought in an “uninhabitable state” for €82,500. The property was refurbished and bought through a local auctioneer to Longford County Council for €163,000 within that same year. Troy this week said he made €36,000 before tax on the investment.
In relation to properties that he failed to declare, Troy said he was of the belief that he only had to list those he owned at the end of a calendar year rather than those sold during the relevant time period. He has been criticised for this explanation, given the rules for making a declaration are clearly set out. He insists he did not try to conceal anything and that “my biggest offence is my lack of due diligence”.
Troy has made apologies in recent days for his mistakes, while also having a go at the media and Opposition for their pursuit of him. He said he was happy to answer any questions that the Standards in Public Office Commission may have about the matters raised.
He also said he looks forward to being in a position to serve in government again. Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar both commended Troy’s hard work and commitment after he resigned on Wednesday, but given the headaches this debacle has caused for the Coalition, that ambition is likely to be on hold for some time.