A controversy over a series of corrections to the Dáil register of members’ interests by a junior minister is the last thing the government needs as it tries to put the finishing touches on one of the more important budgets in years.
The significant list of changes made by Robert Troy from Fianna Fáil reflects badly on him, the government and his party.
There are now no excuses for government officials not to understand their obligation to be completely transparent about all their dealings.
That Mr Troy “sincerely regrets” the omissions and has apologized for them may allay some of the public anger. However, given the sensitivities surrounding homeownership and the severe housing crisis, many might still consider it untenably deaf to Mr Troy when he is not certain all his affairs are in order when it comes to such declarations.
It is all the more surprising that such omissions could be made, given the size of his property interests.
He has accepted full responsibility and apologized unreservedly, but how such mistakes could have been made in the first place is still difficult to explain given the emphasis on openness and accountability.
Mr. Troy has the right to conduct business like anyone else. However, as junior minister and TD, he must strictly adhere to the protocols required of an incumbent member of government.
Any deviation from the rules, no matter how unintentional, damages the reputation of the office disproportionately.
Politicians are entitled to their good names, but they are well paid, many with gilded pensions that their constituents can only dream of. Therefore, they must show that they are invariably fully compliant when it comes to declaring their full earnings and how they are accumulated.
An analysis of the wealth of Dáil politicians was carried out earlier this year. Many people were surprised to learn that almost half of all TDs were worth more than 1 million euros.
It was also revealed that a significant part of this wealth comes from the extremely generous public service pensions that TDs receive when they retire from politics.
There’s nothing improper about that. However, it places a strong obligation on the people who are so well paid – and on the taxpayer – to abide by whatever rules they are bound by.
People expect integrity from those who serve in public life.
There is a reasonable expectation that their values and intentions will match their words and actions.
If promises are not kept, the breach of trust rarely has consequences.
The housing shortage and cost-of-living crisis require all the attention they can get, so we can hardly afford distractions like these.
Let’s hope Mr. Troy and other officers have learned that it takes less time to do something right than to explain why you did it wrong.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/troy-row-shows-there-is-an-onus-on-tds-to-abide-by-rules-41921889.html Troy Row shows that TDs have a duty to abide by the rules