‘Conflict of interest’ as one in five TDs are landlords

Ireland’s spiralling rental crisis is failing to be addressed because one in every five TDs are landlords and have a clear conflict of interest on the issue, campaigners have warned.

‘Conflict of interest’ as one in five TDs are landlords

Fr Peter McVerry and David Hall made the claim after a new report found a minimum of 30 of the Dáil’s 158 TDs are receiving private rental income from properties they own — including a quarter of the current Cabinet.

According to the 2017 Dáil declarations of interest report, which is published every 12 months by the Oireachtas and includes a full breakdown of TDs’ assets, politicians across almost all parties have properties they are renting to the public.

And while the situation is broadly in line with previous years, the report’s publication just 24 hours after a daft.ie survey found rents are now surging beyond boom-era levels, has led to renewed concern over why the crisis has yet to be fully addressed.

According to the Dáil declarations report figures:

  • 30 of Ireland’s 158 TDs are also landlords, including four out of 15 of the current Cabinet.
  • The Government landlords include Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, Minister for Older People Jim Daly, Fine Gael chair Martin Heydon, Sean Canney, John Paul Phelan, Paul Kehoe, Pat Deering, Alan Farrell and John Deasy.
  • Among those in Fianna Fáil are Robert Troy, Eamon Scanlon, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, Sean Haughey, Marc Mac Sharry, Stephen Donnelly, Sean Fleming, Billy Kelleher, Timmy Dooley, Bobby Alyward, John McGuinness and John Curran.
  • And in other parties TD landlords include Labour’s Alan Kelly, Independent Michael Healy-Rae, Independent Noel Grealish and Independent Michael Harty.

Long-time homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry last night told the Irish Examiner while it has been known for a number of years that a number of politicians are also landlords, the growing concern is that “this could create a conflict of interest mindset”.

While suggesting individual TDs may not be deliberately blocking new laws to lower rent prices for personal gain “because they’re paid very well anyway”, Fr McVerry said the scale of Dáil landlords means they be suffering from group-think and only approaching the issue from one perspective.

Citing an example of the problem, the campaigner said “rent pressure zones are simply not working” and that if the tenant’s voice was more strongly heard in the Dáil, politicians would accept “we need to declare an emergency”.

“That emergency should be called now, and I would actually go so far as to say there should be a rent freeze for three years, but that would be anathema to the Government,” he said.

David Hall, chief executive of iCare Housing and the Irish Mortgage Holders Association, agreed, saying that while it cannot be proven politicians are conflicted because they are landlords, there should be increased scrutiny of potential lobbying by individual TDs to block landlord law changes.

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