Fingal County Council deputy chief executive didn't declare rent contract, owns €3 million property portfolio

Fingal County Council’s deputy chief executive didn’t declare a rental contract she has with the local authority – and only submitted an amended declaration after The Ditch requested a copy of the staff ethics register. 

Ethna Felten’s estimated €3 million portfolio includes five rental properties in counties Dublin and Meath. She’s among a handful of staff who lease their properties to the council including one employee who receives almost €20,000 a year in rent from the local authority.

Council staff who fail to declare their property holdings face criminal prosecution and up to two years’ imprisonment under the Local Government Act 2001.

A revised declaration. The council confirming two days later

Last month, on November 20, The Ditch requested a copy of Fingal County Council’s staff ethics register, in which senior staff and those who work in housing are required to declare their property interests. 

On 29 November – after The Ditch’s request – the council’s deputy chief executive Ethna Felten signed a revised declaration of interests. Two days after Felten signed the revised declaration the council responded and confirmed that a copy of the register would be provided the following week. 

In this revised declaration Felten admitted she had a Housing Assistance Payment rental contract with her employer, which she hadn’t declared in her previous submission in January 2023.

Felten owns five rental properties in counties Dublin and Meath, according to her declaration of interests. Among these is the Dublin 15 rental property that she leases to the council. She is not required to declare how much rent she receives from the council.

The most recent addition to her portfolio, which doesn’t have to be declared until 2024, is a Dublin 4 property she bought in October this year that had been advertised for sale for €1,185,000. In 2019 she paid €570,000 for another Dublin 4 rental property.

In August this year, Felten sold another rental property in Dublin 8 for €603,000, according to the Property Price Register. 

Felten paid a deposit for the purchase of a sixth rental property on the South Circular Road in Dublin last year but the deal fell through, according to her declaration.

The ethics declarations also revealed that a senior staff officer is renting a house in Balbriggan to Fingal County Council on a 10-year lease that she signed in 2017. She receives €1,600 a month from her employer for the property, which is used for social housing. 

A handful of other staff also have their properties leased to their employer for social housing.

Felten joined the council in 2008 having previously worked as an engineering manager for IBM. Then enterprise minister Leo Varadkar appointed her to the National Standards Authority of Ireland board in September 2020. 

She declined to comment.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors