Words: Ellen Kenny
Recent controversy has stirred up the need for new policy on how we monitor the public behaviour and private interests of landlords.
TDs and Senators could be asked to provide more information on the Dáil’s Register of Members’ Interests, according to a planned overhaul of monitoring politicians’ interests.
Members of the Committee on Members’ Interests plan to propose reforms on the current policy. They have suggested that the Government require politicians in receipt of contracts such as the rental accommodation scheme (RAS) or housing assistance payment (HAP) to declare this.
Chair of the committee Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh has expressed an interest to hold extra meetings to evaluate these proposals.
Minister of State Robert Troy TD recently resigned from his ministerial position after it was revealed that he did not declare all of his properties to Standards in Public Office (SIPO). He claims this was an “error in his interpretation” of the requirements.
Troy also admitted that, as a landlord, he receives two RAS payments and five HAPs. The TD earns 780 euros per month from RAS. Troy did not declare where the properties he receives the HAP are. But landlords in Troy’s constituency can earn anywhere between 180 and 650 euros per property from the payments.
Troy argued that SIPO does not require him to disclose these earnings. But while he was earning this money from his rentals, he was also in the Dáil. He previously argued that landlords should receive more money through RAS. He also called on the Minister for Housing to support landlords who wanted to evict tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Troy, like any other TD in receipt of these payments, has been allowed to present his private interests as a public discussion. People in Troy’s constituency do not have complete transparency on who they are voting for and what his interests are. But new proposals to the Committee on Members’ Interests would prevent this from happening.
While approximately three per cent of Irish people are landlords, 30 per cent of TDs are landlords. A very small interest group has a large hold over national policies. The Government should be required to declare that in full.
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