Landlord Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen doesn't declare his rental income from farmland that he hadn’t acknowledged his ownership of for almost a decade.
The Offaly TD yesterday told the Dáil that extending the eviction ban would be “like making sweets free for children. It is fine for a little while, but ultimately detrimental to the greater need.” Today, when asked if his choice of words was appropriate, Cowen said, “It is pedantic, a focus on words, not the message.”
Cowen failed to declare his ownership of 32 acres of farmland for nine years – only rectifying the issue after the resignation of his party colleague Robert Troy. Today Cowen confirmed to The Ditch the land is let – meaning not only has he failed to declare he owns the land for almost a decade, he still fails to declare the rent he receives from it.
The veteran TD told The Ditch the land is “subject to lease” but claimed, falsely, that his earnings are exempt because they’re “under the declarable amount of €13,000” a year.
TDs are required to declare rental income that “exceeds €2,600” per year under ethics law. The €13,000 threshold Cowen refers to relates only to land value according to SIPO rules.
Cowen’s late mother Mary previously owned the 32-acre parcel of land. Cowen has been the registered owner since 2003 but failed to declare ownership of it in his Dáil returns since 2014.
Cowen, for the first time since 2014, disclosed he owns the land in his most recent Dáil declaration of interests submitted in January this year. His party colleague Robert Troy was forced to resign his junior ministry last year after The Ditch revealed the Longford–Westmeath TD had failed to fully disclose his property interests.
Cowen indicated that he will amend his Dáil returns.
“I had believed that under description of house and lands that the area (acreage) was on initial declaration when I first submitted as a TD in 2011. Will rectify that. Agricultural lands are subject to lease (but under declarable amount of €13,000 as per SIPO returns rules),” said Cowen this afternoon to The Ditch.