Fianna Fáil junior minister Anne Rabbitte failed to declare her interests in two residential properties. She told The Ditch that she didn’t declare one of the properties – which had four mortgages registered against it – because “the bank had commenced repossession”.
Rabbitte didn’t declare her interest in a second residential property because, according to her first response to The Ditch, it wasn’t registered in her name. In a second statement however the junior minister for disability admitted she told a planning authority she was co-owner of the property and that she had contributed to its mortgage repayments.
Oireachtas members who fail to declare their property interests can be subject to investigation by SIPO under ethics legislation.
A further three mortgages
Anne Rabbitte bought a bungalow in Abbeyknockmoy, county Galway in 1999 with a mortgage from Bank of Ireland, according to Land Registry records.
A further three mortgages from Bank of Ireland were registered on the property in 2002 and 2010, which was purchased using her married name, Anne Callan.
In 2004 Rabbitte and her late husband applied to Galway County Council for permission to develop a former church and house at Dunkellin Terrace, Portumna into a restaurant and guesthouse. The couple declared they were the “prospective buyer” on the planning application.
They received planning permission the following year.
Five years later, in 2010, Rabbitte and her husband successfully applied to the local authority for an extension on the previous planning permission, which was due to expire.
Rabbitte was listed as a co-owner of the church and house on the application form she submitted to the council. It is understood that the proposed development did not proceed.
Rabbitte sold her Abbeyknockmoy bungalow in 2017 according to records obtained from the Land Registry. The church and house in Portumna, which was registered in her husband’s name, were meanwhile sold to a property developer in 2020.
In her initial statement to The Ditch Rabbitte said she didn’t have to declare the Portumna property.
“I did not declare an interest in the house and former church at Dunkellin Terrace, Portumna as they were not in my name. Those were owned by my late husband, who passed away in 2011. My late husband’s probate and estate have not been processed since his death,” she said.
When it was brought to her attention that she had declared herself a co-owner of the church and house in a planning application, Rabbitte disclosed further details about her interest in the property.
“After my husband passed away, I continued to pay the debt on the property as I felt it was the right thing to do… I was continuing to rent while making repayments but was not able to keep them up and… the bank commenced repossession of the property in 2015,” said Rabbitte in a statement to The Ditch earlier today.
Rabbitte was also asked by The Ditch why she didn’t declare her ownership of the bungalow in Abbyknockmoy in her annual Dáil declaration of interests for 2016 and 2017.
“I did not declare the property in Abbeyknockmoy in 2016 or 2017 as the bank commenced repossession of the property in 2015, which I did not challenge”, she added in today’s statement.
Rabbitte was first elected to Galway County Council in 2014 and served as a councillor until her election to the Dáil in 2016. She was reelected in 2020 and appointed a minister for state for disability.
Appearing on RTÉ’s Upfront with Katie Hannon earlier this month, Rabbitte told the studio audience, “I'm actually a renter myself" and that she’s "definitely driven to find solutions" to find solutions to the country’s housing crisis.