Niall Collins still has ‘key questions’ to answer over reports regarding his wife’s purchase of a former council property, People Before Profit has said.
In a statement last night, the Junior Minister insisted that neither he nor his wife had “any pecuniary or beneficial interest” in the property before Limerick County Council decided to sell it.
The council put the property up for sale in 2007 and Eimear O'Connor reportedly bought it for €148,000 in 2008.
Minister Collins was a serving Limerick councillor when the decision was made to put the property up for sale; however, he resigned following his election as a TD.
The Ditch has reported that Ms O'Connor “had written to the council the month before the council meeting seeking to buy the land” and that then Cllr Collins voted in favour of selling it.
“As far as I can see he has very comprehensively covered the issues that were raised.”
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) April 25, 2023
In his statement, Minister Collins said the property in question was "sold following a transparent and open sales process, which was open to all."
He insisted that “neither I nor my wife had any pecuniary or beneficial interest in that property” when the council decided to sell it in 2007 and noted that the property was “advertised in the local public press” before it was sold sale.
Minister Collins also stressed that he was no longer a councillor by the time the sale went through in 2008.
'A serious matter'
Under Section 177 of the Local Government Act, a councillor is required to disclose any interests and are furthermore prohibited from influencing any decision they have such an interest in.
Failure to disclose an interest is an offence and, speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Deputy Murphy said Minister Collins’ statement “does not dispute any of the facts that are outlined in The Ditch article”.
“The key question Niall Collins has to answer is, was he aware when he participated in the meeting that agreed to put the land up for sale that his wife had expressed an interest in buying it?” he told said.
“There's certainly a case to be made - and it would ultimately be for the DPP and the courts to decide - that failing to recuse himself was a criminal offence,” he said.
“It certainly appears to be a breach of the code of conduct.
“It’s a serious matter to participate where there’s a conflict of interest.”
Speaking prior to Deputy Murphy, Minister Seán Fleming told Newstalk Breakfast he believed his colleague and described him as a “straightforward and upfront guy”.
Main image: Niall Collins TD. Picture by: Alamy.com