Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien has said he welcomes changes to legislation on ethics in public office, but that landlord TDs should still get a vote on housing issues.
This comes after the resignation of TD Robert Troy, who failed to fully declare his property interests in the Dáil register.
Minister O'Brien would not give his opinion on the resignation, but he described Troy as "a really effective minister" who O'Brien supported as a TD.
"He was very honest."
"He made some mistakes"
"He made some mistakes. But it has gone on for, you know, eight, ten days, and I think it was obviously having a toll on Robert and his family as well", Minister O'Brien said.
"There's no question that in my mind that Robert Troy will be back at some stage into the future. He was a very effective TD."
Minister O'Brien said he would welcome a change in legislation surrounding ethics in public office.
"In fairness, the ethics legislation here in the Republic is very strong. The declarations that need to be made on an annual basis are very clear. And in this instance obviously there were mistakes made."
"There have to be learnings from this. The Taoiseach has said it. I'm saying it to you now as well today."
"Conflict of interest"
Rory Hearne, an assistant professor of social policy at Maynooth University, believes that politicians with property portfolios should not be allowed to vote on housing policy.
On yesterday's Newstalk Breakfast Dr Hearne said there is a “real issue” with politicians “treating housing as an investment rather than a home".
He noted that former housing ministers Alan Kelly and Simon Coveney are both landlords and at least 80 TD and Senators have officially declared property interests.
“It is a potential conflict of interest when you’re making policy decisions and you are deciding on what housing policies to introduce while also benefitting from those policies", he said.
Minister O'Brien said it would be "very strange" if elected would not be able to speak on some matters.
"You want people who are representative of the country. Many people have different interests."
"What usually would happen if someone speaks in the Dáil is someone references that, and that is a custom and practice that's going on quite a long time."
Future of housing
The government's cost-rental scheme has become over subscribed due to its popularity.
"Look, we've had 10, 12 years of very significant undersupply in housing both on public housing, social housing side, affordable indeed and private."
"We're playing catch up on the cost-rental", he said.
"This is a tenure of housing that didn't exist 12 months ago: state backed, affordable long-term rents where there's secure tenure."
Minister O'Brien is hoping to get the number of cost-rentals "into the 1000s".
He also said there will also be affordable homes to buy this year "for the first time in a generation" through the First Home scheme.
Those who avail of the new scheme will see the state fill the gap "between the finance they have and the finance they need to help them buy a house".
Student accommodation crisis
Minister O'Brien said, having discussed the student housing crisis with Higher Education Minister Simon Harris, the answer is more purpose-built student accommodation.
Last year, around 40,000 students were living in purpose-built rentals.
"There are changes being made to the Rent a Room scheme which has been pretty successful so far ... we believe there will be significant opportunities in that space."
On whether students may miss out on a college place due to the lack of available housing, Minister O'Brien said: "I hope not."
This week, UCD Student’s Union launched its Digs Drive, which aims to convince people to rent out spare rooms – earning up to €14,000 tax free in the process.
Students handed out flyers all over Dublin urging them to consider renting a room to a UCD student for the coming academic year.
Main image shows Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien. Image: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo