Robert Troy has resigned as a minister of State, apologising again for his errors and accepting responsibility for them, but also sharply criticising media coverage of the controversy that has raged around him in recent weeks.
In a statement issued by Fianna Fáil shortly after 9pm on Wednesday, the Longford-Westmeath TD said a “number of errors” made by him “directly or indirectly” had led him to decide to resign as minister.
He said the errors he made in the declaration of his property interests were “genuine errors and human errors and were not intentional. I hold myself to a high standard and that is the reason I have taken this decision of my own counsel.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to assure members of the public once again that I have not tried to conceal anything. My biggest offense is my lack of due diligence,” he said. “However, one issue in isolation is excusable but the number of errors now that are of my making directly or indirectly has led me to this decision.”
Government sources said Mr Troy had spoken to Taoiseach Micheál Martin earlier on Wednesday evening and informed him of his decision. Mr Martin did not seek his resignation, sources said, though political pressure had been building on Mr Troy for several days.
In a statement issued after the resignation was announced, the Taoiseach said he accepted the decision “with regret” and paid tribute to his work in the Department of Enterprise.
Mr Martin added, however: “The minister clearly acknowledged that he made serious errors in relation to his declarations to the Register of Member’ interests, and he sincerely apologised for this.”
The resignation came after intense scrutiny of Mr Troy’s property investments in recent days. He told RTÉ on Tuesday he had 11 properties and apologised for the failure to fully declare the extent of his property holdings in the Dáil register of interests, in which TDs are required to declare their assets.
In recent days, journalists have peppered Mr Troy’s office with questions about his property dealings. On Wednesday night, The Irish Times reported that residents in Phibsboro in Dublin had repeatedly complained to Mr Troy about the state of one of his rental properties there.
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Mr Troy said he remained “more than happy to answer any questions” the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) or the Residential Tenancies Board have about his declarations and “will of course give a full account in the Dáil if required once it returns”.
In his statement, Mr Troy was strongly critical of some of the media coverage of the controversy in recent days.
“While I accept my mistakes, I would like to state that the narrative being put forward by some media and some in the Opposition that landlords are villains is simply wrong. I am acutely aware of the sensitives of the housing situation in Ireland, and on a continuous basis work to assist constituents [to] address their housing needs — but vilifying landlords is not the answer and it will not help the problem,” he said.
Mr Troy added he would “not apologise for being a landlord. I bought my first house at the age of 20 as I went straight into a job after school, so I was in a position to purchase my first property then. I am not a person of privilege and I have not been brought up with a silver spoon in my mouth, I have worked for all I have.”
Turning to the media reports, he continued: “While I appreciate elected representatives have to be held to high standards, I would ask the journalists and the authors of a particular website who relentlessly pursued this story to consider how ethical their work has been. Some media has taken stories verbatim without verification that have been factually incorrect, they have printed inaccurate headlines and misleading articles and failed to make corrections when asked.”
The report that Mr Troy had not correctly declared his property interests first appeared in the online news outlet the Ditch.
Speaking to RTÉ on Tuesday, Mr Troy revealed that he owns or part-owns 11 properties, nine of which are rented out including one property sub-let into three units and another into four units. He declined to provide addresses for all 11 properties and did not confirm they were all at locations listed in his Dáil Register of Members’ Interests declaration for 2021.
He also said he had two rental assistance payment contracts with Westmeath County Council and also revealed that he had five contracts for the housing assistance payment (Hap).
Mr Troy previously raised the issue of State funding to the rental assistance payment scheme in the Dáil in 2014 when he was in receipt of the support. It also emerged that Mr Troy raised issues with the length of time to approve Hap applications a number of times in the Dáil, and asked the minister for housing in 2019 to look into speeding up the application processes for applicants.
Concluding his statement on Wednesday night, Mr Troy appealed for privacy but said he looked forward to serving in government in the future.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who Mr Troy worked with in the Department of Enterprise, said he had been “one of the hardest working and most dedicated” ministers of State he had encountered and had “left a lasting legacy in the department, making a difference to thousands of businesses across the country”.
“His willingness to co-operate with any Sipo inquiry is welcome. He should be afforded due process in respect of that,” the Fine Gael leader said in a statement.
A Green Party spokeswoman offered the party’s thanks to Mr Troy “for his diligent work as a minister and his courteous approach” in Government but said he had made the right decision.
“The circumstances which led to his resignation are regrettable but we think it is appropriate that he has done so,” she said.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the property related controversy had “laid bare for all to see” the Coalition’s “failed approach to housing”.
“The result for ordinary people is exorbitant rents, rocketing homelessness and the fact that the ability to purchase a home has been put well beyond reach of the majority,” she said in a statement.