'accidental landlord' | 

Health Minister insists he won’t follow Robert Troy and resign after failing to register property

Stephen Donnell says he was an ‘accidental landlord’

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA© PA

Eilish O'ReganIndependent.ie

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly insisted today that he will not resign despite failing to register a rental property in Dublin for the past three years with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

He also defended lobbying on behalf of accidental landlords in the Dáil although not declaring a personal interest.

”It is a mis-renewal in 2019. I missed it. It should not have happened and I rectified it as soon as I found out about it,” he told reporters today.

Asked if he should resign and what makes him different to his party colleague Robert Troy, who resigned as a junior minister last week amid controversy over his property interests, he said: “I don’t believe it warrants that.”

The Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow said he could only speak for himself.

Mr Donnelly said the apartment in question, which is in Sandyford, south Dublin, was registered in 2011 and renewed in 2015 but he missed the 2019 registration.

Asked if he only checked when controversy arose over Mr Troy’s failure to register one of his properties, he said: “I double-checked the Residential Tenancies Board and that’s when I found out.”

Asked why he lobbied on behalf of accidental landlords, he said: “We are accidental landlords. It went into negative equity.

“The previous position I was making which is still relevant today is that we need people to be able to rent places.

“We had a situation where Irish people had a property for their pension or had one in negative equity, were taxed at around 50pc on rental income but corporate investors were paying a tiny fraction of that.

“I did not believe that was the right policy, and I still don’t.”

Mr Donnelly was pressed on why in four successive Budgets he asked for better tax treatment for people who were accidental landlords, saying it was not fair that if you bought one property and had to leave it you would be taxed at the marginal rate for renting that out again.

He was asked why he never made clear in his disclosures to the Dáil or members’ interests that he stood to benefit.

“It would have applied right across the board,” he said.

Should one declare any potential benefit from any policy?

"I heard similar reasons made if people should declare they are beneficial recipients in the healthcare system.

"I have made similar representations on behalf of child benefit.”

Mr Donnelly was attending a HSE conference in Dublin Castle.

“I think there is an interesting question to be asked: should one declare any potential benefit from any policy?” he said.

"I do think one of the points of the register of interests is that properties can be identified and I think, critically, in this case both properties were fully declared every year.

“Quite a lot of people ended up being accidental landlords. Any mom and pop landlord was paying 50pc tax on income where corporate investors (were) paying next to nothing on tax.

Asked if he paid a fine to the RTB, he confirmed that he paid €100.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister said he expected that supplies of a new Covid-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron strain would arrive here within a week of it being approved by the Health Protection Regulatory Authority after it got the green light by the European Medicines Agency.

He also pledged that there will be more teams in the community this year to expand services to people with long-term diseases outside of hospital as the health service faces into another tough winter.

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