Half of Fine Gael’s trustees are investor landlords. The party’s longest serving trustee owns over 30 rental properties, according to land registry records.
Fine Gael appoints trustees to manage the party’s financial affairs. Among Fine Gael’s current eight trustees are a landlord who makes a minimum of €218,000 yearly rent from residential tenants, another with a multi-million-euro property portfolio and another who became a multi-millionaire when she inherited her share of her father’s estate (himself a former Fine Gael minister).
People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy has said this is "more confirmation that the country is run by and for the landlord class".
Veteran Fine Gael trustee Jerry Carey owns a residential and commercial property portfolio that includes 26 apartments in Mariners Hall, Cork city. He purchased these 26 units from Nama for €1.9 million. Owned through his company Trrumi Ltd, the annual income generated from these rental properties in 2014 was €218,000.
Carey owns a retail unit in Limerick leased to Ann Summers for €160,000 a year, while another of his retail units in Cork city is let to Costa Coffee for €109,000 a year.
Carey, a Fine Gael party trustee since 1998 who made his fortune with the sale of his company Irish Business Systems to Xerox, also owns four commercial properties in south Dublin. One of these properties, an 8,000-square-foot crèche in Stepaside, is let for €160,000 rent a year. A car sales showroom he owns in Sandyford is let for €200,000 a year.
He also owns two units in Woodstown Shopping Centre, Knocklyon, which are let to a Chinese takeaway and an off-licence for a combined yearly rent of €81,000. His Dublin property portfolio includes a rental apartment in Ely Mews, a short stroll from Leinster house.
Carey’s combined annual rental income exceeds €1 million. According to his firm’s latest accounts, it has net assets of €18.2 million.
A banana republic
Senior counsel Patrick McCann has been a Fine Gael trustee since 2018. McCann, a practising barrister since 1985, is the grandson of the late Fyffes founder Charles McCann.
He was paid €264-plus-VAT per hour for his work on the 2015 Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis, and he is a director of over 50 McCann family companies. One of these companies, Alastair Ltd, boasts a €4.3 million Dublin property portfolio including five apartments and two houses.
The firm owns three rental properties at The Links development in Dublin 4, where monthly rents are between €2,250 and €2,500 for two-bedroom apartments. The company also owns an apartment in Bachelors Walk, an apartment in Portobello, a semi-detached in Crumlin and a terraced house in Harold’s Cross. The two-bed, 500-square-foot property in Harold’s Cross was advertised to let in 2017 at a monthly rent of €1,900.
Fine Gael MEP for Ireland South Deirdre Clune, a former TD and senator, has served as a trustee for two decades. Her father, Peter Barry, was a Fine Gael tánaiste for two months in 1987, while her grandfather Anthony Barry was a Fine Gael TD from 1961 to 1965. In Peter’s obituary, the Irish Times said Deirdre “inherited the political gene” – she also inherited a share of a €41 million family fortune.
She now owns three rental properties, including two apartments in the Maryborough Hill development in Douglas, county Cork. Her portfolio also includes an apartment in Ballsbridge, close to the capital’s Aviva stadium.
Varadkar’s home constituency
Former Balfour Beatty Ireland director Ronan Melvin, a qualified accountant, has served as a Fine Gael trustee since 2018.
Melvin in 2011 was appointed to the board of the Road Safety Authority by his party and constituency colleague Leo Varadkar, who was then minister for transport. Melvin owns two rental apartments in Balgriffin, north Dublin.
The remaining four party trustees who do not own rental properties are tánaiste Leo Varadkar, social protection minister Heather Humpreys, county Clare councillor Pat Burke and Collins Institute chairperson Marion Coy.
People Before Profit’s Paul Murphy commented on the news.
"Yet more confirmation that the country is run by and for the landlord class. These are the people who gain from the housing crisis which harms the vast majority," he said.
All eight trustees and the Fine Gael press office declined to comment.