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Dublin Live
Dublin Live
Gráinne Ní Aodha & Cate McCurry

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly refuses to consider resigning after failure to register Dublin rental property

Stephen Donnelly yesterday claimed failing to register a rental property in 2019 was the only mistake in his declarations “to the best of my knowledge”.

The Minister for Health also said he will not consider his position after fellow Fianna Fail minister Robert Troy resigned last week over errors in declaring his interests. Mr Donnelly failed to register the property in Sandyford, Dublin, with the Residential Tenancies Board in 2019 though it was in 2011 and renewed in 2015, and is currently registered.

He said he only realised the property was not registered with the RTB after details of Mr Troy’s errors emerged. It is an offence to fail to register a tenancy with the RTB within one month of the tenancy commencing.

Read more: Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly fails to register rental property with Residential Tenancies Board

Speaking at Dublin Castle yesterday Mr Donnelly said it should not have happened but it was an “oversight”, and there was no advantage to not registering the property. He added: “It should have been renewed in 2019. That’s my fault. There was an oversight. The responsibility is mine. It’s a long-standing tenancy. It was registered in 2011, then it was renewed in 2015.

“It shouldn’t have happened and I rectified it as soon as I discovered it. Under the old laws, an existing tenancy needs to be renewed every four years. So 2015, then 2019 and then 2023 and I missed it [in 2019] and I accept that as a mistake and it shouldn’t have happened and I fully hold my hands up on it.

“I thought it was all in order. I checked the Dail register of members’ interests, both properties have been fully declared every year on that. But I also double-checked the RTB and, yeah, that’s when I saw it. As soon as I discovered it, we contacted the RTB, they said to backdate it online and that was done and that is the same process that anybody has to go through who missed a renewal.”

Mr Donnelly said he paid a fine of “approximately €100” for the late
registration with the RTB. He added: “I’m not considering the position [of minister] but as I said, it shouldn’t have happened, but it is my responsibility.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said Mr Donnelly’s failure to renew his Dublin property was a “genuine oversight”. Mr Martin also said there should be a “sense of perspective” in how the error is judged.

He added: “First of all, I think he has explained this oversight. “It should have been registered with the RTB, but it had been registered previously and it has been declared, so seems to me on the face of it to be a genuine oversight and I have accepted the minister’s explanation for that.

Read more: Record number of homeless accessing emergency accommodation with majority in Dublin

"Others also in other parties have had similar oversights last week, with a Sinn Fein TD, for example, who hadn’t a particular property registered either, and that can happen. I think we have to have a sense of perspective then in how we assess and judge situations like this.”

Mr Donnelly has previously proposed and advocated for changes to finance bills in the Dail seeking better tax treatment for accidental landlords, but did not make it clear he gained to benefit from such proposed changes.

It is required under the Ethics in Public Office Act that a TD must make a declaration and state their material interest in a subject matter before the Dail. When asked whether he believes Mr Donnelly should have declared this interest to the Dail, Mr Martin said it was done so through the Dail register of members’ interests.

Read more: Urgent warning to students as accommodation scams costing renters €1,300

The Taoiseach added: “I think, generally speaking, if people are contributing to Dail Eireann and they have a particular interest, they should declare that interest, although it has been declared on the register of interests. That’s the important point and so it’s not that he hadn’t declared it, he had publicly. But, again, we have to look at the context in which that debate took place.

“Compliance is not about over-penalising in terms of errors or whatever, there’s late fees and so on. There are mechanisms laid out in the legislation, irrespective of who it applies to.

“But compliance is multi-faceted and it doesn’t mean that on the first occasion when someone does not comply that you go to the nuclear all compliance systems there’s a graduated approach and that applies to everything across the board.”

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