The Dáil Register of Members’ Interests and an omission by a Kerry TD

It’s emerged that a Kerry TD failed to declare his directorship of a company in the county.  

All TDs and senators are required to declare their business interests and property ownerships yearly in the Registers of Members’ Interests.  

In the most recent publication, Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae listed 21 land parcels or properties, four occupations and one directorship in his interests; however, Radio Kerry has found the Kerry TD is also listed as a director of Black Cap & Company Limited, a position he was appointed to in October 2017. 

Can you first give listeners some information on the Register of Members’ Interests?

Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas are required to make an annual statement of their interests.

These can include members’ other occupations and directorships, shares and properties they own and gifts they have received.

The Clerks of the Dáil and Seanad are responsible for collating the information at the beginning of every year and sending it to the Standards in Public Office Commission – or SIPO – by 31 January.

A register is published each year with all the interests declared by Dáil and Seanad members. However, members can add more interests during the year, which would be published in what’s called a Supplement to Register of Members’ interests.

This could occur if a TD or senator purchased a property following the publication of one register.

The 2020 Dáil register was released in March of this year and contained interests declared by Kerry TDs. Independent deputy Michael Healy-Rae declared a number of interests. Can you give us an outline of those?

The 2020 Register of Interests of Members of Dáil Eireann logs all properties, holdings and directorships by TDs during the period January 1st to December 31st, 2019.

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae listed 21 land parcels or properties, four occupations and one directorship in his interests.

He is listed as director of Roughty Plant Hire, which is located at Sandymount, Kilgarvan.

While checking interests declared by all five Kerry TDs, I understand you found a directorship which hadn’t been declared by Deputy Michael Healy-Rae. How did this come about? 

For some background, the Companies Registration Office – or CRO – is the central repository of public statutory information on Irish companies and business names.

All companies registered in Ireland are documented on its website.  

According to the CRO, Deputy Michael Healy-Rae is also listed as a director of Black Cap & Company Limited, a position he was appointed to in October 2017.

Company documents show Michael Healy-Rae incorporated Black Cap & Company Limited on the 3rd October, 2017; the company’s general nature is the retail sale of automotive fuel in specialised stores in Kilgarvan.

53-year-old Michael Healy-Rae is listed as one of two directors, along with his wife Eileen.

The CRO shows the Kerry TD is director of two companies – not one, as per his Register of Members’ Interests for both 2019 and 2018.

What information does the CRO hold on Black Cap & Company Limited? 

It says the company address is Sandymount, Kilgarvan, and is a private company limited by shares.

The company has two directors, Michael and Eileen Healy-Rae.

Documents show Michael Healy-Rae signed company forms in October, 2017, the same month Black Cap & Company was registered.

The CRO also has the company’s financial accounts: the company’s accounts for the first 18 months of its existence show there’s €152,443 payable to the Kerry TD, while €13,000 in rent was paid to him by the company.

Getting back to the Register of Members’ Interests, what role does the Standards in Public Office Commission – or SIPO – play?

The commission promotes transparency and accountability in Irish public life. It oversees ethics, electoral, state finance and lobbying legislation. Among its duties is to compile the Register of Members’ Interests.

In relation to the register, the commission oversees compliance with the Ethics Acts of office holders.

SIPO says “Members must fulfil […] the requirements of the Dáil and of the law in respect of the registration and declaration of interests and, to assist them in so doing, should familiarise themselves with the relevant legislation and guidelines published from time to time …”

Finally, in relation to the discrepancy between the CRO documents and the Register of Members’ Interests, did Independent deputy Michael Healy-Rae have any comment to make?

Yes. He said that his shop in Kilgarvan was owned by him in his capacity as a sole trader. However, in recent years, he transferred ownership from a sole trader to a limited company, which is Black Cap & Company Limited.

After being asked about his directorship in the company and it not being recorded in the register, Deputy Healy-Rae said he contacted SIPO and has submitted forms to have it amended.

 

Eamonn Hickson – May 2020

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Links:

https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/members/registerOfMembersInterests/dail/2020/2020-03-03_register-of-members-interests-dail-eireann_en.pdf

https://www.cro.ie/

SIPO

https://www.sipo.ie/documents/english/Code-of-Conduct-for-Members-of-Dail-Eireann-other-than-Office-Holders.pdf