It is “not good enough” that Niall Collins will not answer questions after his statement in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin has said.
The Minister of State will today address TDs about his wife’s purchase of land from Limerick County Council that was put up for sale when he was a councillor.
The Ditch alleges Minister Collins’ wife, Eimear O’Connor, had expressed an interest in buying the property before the matter came before the council and then-Cllr Collins did not properly recuse himself when a vote was held.
After the allegations were published, Minister Collins published a statement insisting that when the property was put up for sale, “neither I nor my wife had any pecuniary or beneficial interest in that property.”
He also noted he was no longer a councillor when the sale of the property went through in 2008.
on Newstalk Breakfast, Sinn Féin Chief Whip Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said Minister Collins needed to fully explain himself and TDs should have the right to question him about the matter.
“Leo Varadkar, Minister Helen McEntee, Minister Paschal Donohoe - all three of them made a statement and took questions from the opposition,” he said.
“That’s what’s expected in a democracy - that you can hold a Minister to account.
“This is the second time now that he’s going to come before the Dáil, make a statement and just walk away.
“I don’t think that’s good enough.”
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said the declaration of interests is a “serious matter” and the public need to have confidence in their public representatives.
“The public need to know that the planning system… of selling publicly-owned land is beyond reproach,” he said.
“That is sacrosanct… and what has been revealed by The Ditch is of public concern and, indeed, if you have not declared a pecuniary - which is a financial interest or a beneficial interest - then that is an indictable offence, that is a criminal offence.”
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said then-Cllr Collins should have recused himself from the vote on the grounds his wife had previously expressed an interest in the property.
“It’s a meeting of the council - there’s minutes of that meeting - and he didn’t make it clear that they had a potential interest in that,” he said.
“He didn’t recuse himself and, indeed, the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and Minister Eamon Ryan have all said he should have done that.
“So, there are serious issues here - we’ll wait to see what the statement is.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is confident Minister Collins has not breached the provisions of the Local Government Act.
Main image: Niall Collins. Picture by: RollingNews.ie