Battle of Troy | 

Robert Troy claims fire cert wasn’t needed for Dublin rental property

In the new statement Mr Troy said that “all works were completed to the relevant fire safety regulations” after he received advice that as there was no material change in the use of the property as a result of the renovations no certificate was required.

Fianna Fáil junior minister Robert Troy is under pressure for failing to declare his personal interest in several properties. Photo

Robert Troy. Photo: Frank McGrath

Hugh O'Connell and Laura

MINISTER of State Robert Troy has claimed that a fire safety certificate was not required under building regulations for a property in Dublin which he and his co-owner renovated for rental.

Mr Troy, who is under mounting pressure over his property interests, issued a new statement today after it emerged that the development on Rathdown Road in Phibsborough, where one-bedroom units are being let for over €1,500 per month, has no fire safety certificate registered.

In the new statement Mr Troy said that “all works were completed to the relevant fire safety regulations” after he received advice that as there was no material change in the use of the property as a result of the renovations no certificate was required.

“We received advice from the architect-engineer that oversaw the development of Rathdown Road, that the building pre-dated the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act 1963 and pre-dated the Building Control Act 1990 and Building Control Regulation 1991,” Mr Troy said in a statement issued via his spokesperson.

“The advice was as there was no “material change” nor “material change of use” as a result of the renovations carried out, an application for a fire safety certificate was not required under Building Regulations, however, all works were completed to the relevant fire safety regulations including the addition of a fire escape as part of these fire safety measures".

Dublin City Council (DCC) previously investigated the unauthorised construction of fire-escape stairs at the back of the same property, which has been subdivided into four rental units by Mr Troy and his business partner.

On foot of a complaint in 2015, DCC’s enforcement office said in 2016 that the metal fire-escape stairs was “inconsistent with the character of the structure itself and neighbouring structures”.

Mr Troy and Mr McGivney later sought planning for the unauthorised development –known as retention permission – from the council, which approved it.

Mr Troy’s statement added: “I can also confirm Dublin City Council advised no planning was required for 25a Rathdown Road apart from the planning we obtained for the fire escape.

"Dublin City Council inspected this property in 2015 and in 2016 and issued a report in September 2016 which recommended no further action was required."

Mr Troy’s statement does not address the issue of DCC issuing a formal warning letter and initiating an investigation for alleged unauthorised development outside of designated working hours on the property at Rathdown Road in Phibsborough in July 2020. The council’s planning enforcement office said yesterday that the file is still open.

Robert Troy. Photo: Frank McGrath

Under planning law, the council can issue enforcement proceedings over unauthorised developments, with a person found guilty on indictment liable for fines of up to €10m, imprisonment of up to two years, or both.

Speaking on the wider controversy, Mr Troy said he was prepared to engage with the authorities.

“I reiterate again my willingness to engage with SIPO, RTB or Dáil Committee as suggested by Minister Ryan," he said.

It comes after Green Party leader Eamon Ryan called for an investigation to be launched into Mr Troy, due to the failure to inform Dail records about his housing portfolio.

The leader of the green party stated it was “very disappointing” to hear the Fianna Fáil junior minister on RTÉ Radio 1 yesterday.

Minister Troy had made “significant errors in the (Dail) declaration” with regards to his “property interests,” Mr Ryan told the News at One on RTÉ Radio 1.

This could “undermine confidence in the political system,” the Minister for the Environment added.

Mr Ryan said he now felt it was “appropriate, as various people have suggested under our ethics act…” that the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) “carry out a commission investigation.”

He said he felt this should take place to identify “very clear procedures".

“I think they (SIPO) should (investigate,) Mr Ryan added.

“I think concluding that we need clarity on what exactly are the rules around rental contracts, as to how they need to be declared.

“That is not clear at this present moment in time - that's come out with this whole issue.”

Mr Ryan said he’d gone as far as talking to the Ceann Comhairle this morning on the matter, “to get his view.”

“I believe it would be possible for the likes of the committee on procedures, privileges and oversight to have a full investigation into the ethics guidelines,” he added.

Those in public office are, he added, “accountable” to the public. He said it would be “appropriate if that was done before the return of the Dail.”

Any questions the Opposition had, could then be asked there, he felt. Such an open forum would mean the issue could be “dealt with in an appropriate manner.”

“I think that could be done quickly and needs to be done quickly.”

Mr Ryan said an investigation by SIPO was an option he favoured because it was set out in ethics legislation as the “appropriate mechanism.”

Ministers and TDs also now needed “clarity” on rental contracts and how they must be declared, he added.

Plans for the winter would have to be set out in the Budget, Mr Ryan also said.

These could include windfall charges to help companies get through an “unprecedented time in terms of a price shock,” due to rising fuel costs.

He stated all efforts had to be made to “keep the lights on,” and help people “afford power.”

Price caps introduced in other countries, including Britain, had not necessarily worked, he said. And rather he felt some funding could be raised to help support people.

While he also felt a ‘reduce your use’ campaign could help reduce demand on the grid.

“If we start to introduce time of day pricing to allow people to save money and also protect our grid and protect the power supply at the same time.”

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