Stephen Donnelly admits he paid €100 fine for late RTB registration

Minister defends Dáil lobbying for ‘accidental landlords’ such as himself

Stephen Donnelly said he paid a fine of 'about €100' over his failure to register the rental of a property he owned with the Residential Tenancies Board

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he paid a fine of “about €100″ over his failure to register the rental of a property he owned with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

Mr Donnelly said he is not considering his position as a Minister over the omission and does not believe “to the best of my knowledge” that there are questions over any of his other interests.

Answering questions from journalists on Thursday, the Minister described himself as an “accidental landlord”, having rented out a property in Sandyford that had gone into negative equity after the financial crash.

He acknowledged having repeatedly lobbied for tax breaks for such “accidental landlords” in Dáil speeches over a decade ago.

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He said he did not think it was right that tax policy favoured corporate landlords over individual Irish citizens renting out properties and that this was still his view.

Donnelly lobbied for tax breaks for ‘accidental landlords’ for four yearsOpens in new window ]

“We need people who are able to rent places. We had a situation where Irish citizens who had a property, for their pension or though negative equity, were being taxed at about 50 per cent of rental income. Corporate investors were paying a tiny fraction of that. I didn’t believe that was the right policy, I still don’t.”

“Quite a number of people” ended up being accidental landlords paying about 50 per cent in tax while vulture funds were paying “next to nothing”, he said.

The Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 requires TDs speaking or voting on something in which they have a material interest to declare this before addressing the Dáil or to tell the clerk of the Dáil about it.

Mr Donnelly said his property interest was disclosed “because it’s in the members’ [register of] interests”.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” Mr Donnelly said of his failure to register the tenancy in 2019. “I hold my hands up on that.”

“The responsibility is mine. It’s a long-standing tenancy that was registered in 2011, and renewed in 2015. It should have been renewed in 2019. That’s my fault. It’s an oversight. There was no advantage to it.

“As soon as I discovered it we contacted the RTB and they said to backdate it online, that was done. That’s the same process anybody has to go through that has missed a renewal,” the Minister said.

Asked how his position differed from that of Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy, who resigned last month after multiple revelations about his property declarations, Mr Donnelly said he did not believe his failure to renew the registration of the tenancy warranted resignation.

“It was a missed renewal, it shouldn’t have happened and as soon as it was discovered it was rectified,” he said, speaking in Dublin Castle.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.