Robert Troy said he was resigning as Junior Minister because the publicity on his property dealings was distracting from major issues.
It is exactly the opposite. The scandal drew attention to precisely what was wrong in this country.
For decades the political elite has supported and protected the interests of landlords. They have systematically run-down council housing to make housing more dependent on the private sector.
They have refused to introduce any serious form of rent control. Just consider the basic facts. Officially, there are rent pressure zones that limit increases to 2%. Yet a report issued by Daft in August showed that rents were 13% higher than in 2021.
They are refusing to use public land to build cheap council and affordable housing. Instead, they want to hand it over to private developers at knock-down prices.
One reason why all this happens is because our parliament is dominated by landlords. The Irish Independent reported that:
Almost 80 TDs and Senators are landlords or landowners with some politicians holding substantial property portfolios, the latest register of members’ interests shows. Some 48 TDs own rental properties or land while 29 Senators also have property and land interests.
Robert Troy’s speech represents the interest of this grouping. In his resignation statement, he said ‘I will not apologise for being a landlord… I am not a person of privilege born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I have worked for all I have’.
As a Dáil deputy, he voted in July against legislation introduced by People Before Profit to lower rents. The Bill sought to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to reduce rents to affordable levels by limiting them to a maximum of a quarter of the median monthly household income and to establish a National Rent Authority to oversee this.
Troy’s vote was a clear case of class interest.
But the reason for the gouging of tenants and the failure of the state to protect them goes deeper.
The Irish rich have a love affair with property. They see it as an easy, secure way to make money. As long as there is a close convergence between the political and economic elite, they can rest safely while rents flow in and they can gain for speculation on housing.
This is the nature of Irish capitalism. Robert Troy is not just one bad apple – the whole system is rotten.