Under-fire TD Niall Collins claims actions were "legally correct at all times"
The Limerick TD gave a statement in response to allegations surrounding the sale of County Council land to his wife.
Junior Minister for Higher Education Niall Collins has said that he is "in absolutely no doubt" that his actions around the sale of Limerick County Council land to his wife in 2008 were "legally correct at all times".
A former member of the Limerick County Council, Mr. Collins faced allegations from media outlet The Ditch over his role in the sale of the vacant site.
Tánaiste Micheál Martin strongly defended his fellow party member earlier on Thursday, describing the media speculation around Mr. Collins as "a political campaign".
The Junior Minister took to the Dáil Chamber himself this afternoon, making a statement in response to the allegations.
Detailing the process in which the land was ultimately sold to his wife, Mr. Collins stated that there had been "various expressions of interest" in acquiring the site and that there was no vote taken or disagreement on the disposal of the land.
The Bruff local area committee, which put the land up for sale, sought the involvement of the Limerick County Council in the disposal of the site as they did not possess the legal recourse to do so themselves, according to Mr. Collins.
Emer O'Connor, the wife of the Fianna Fáil TD, first expressed interest in buying the plot during December of 2006, with Mr. Collins a member of the County Council until mid-2007.
Ms O'Connor paid a total €148,000 for the site, for which she received planning permission for the building of a medical centre. However, the land is currently planned to hold five homes which are proposed to be sold back to the council.
Niall Collins reflects that he should not have taken part in meeting
The sale of the site was agreed in September 2007, four months after Mr. Collins was elected to the Dáil; "For the record, I was not a member of the council in September 2008, having been elected to the Dáil in May 2007", said Mr. Collins.
"In hindsight, given the focus and perception which has arisen, it would have been better if I had not taken part in the local area committee meeting. However, it was my understanding and remains the same today, that I was not participating in a discussion or a decision that in any way contravenes the 2001 Local Government Act. No law was broken".
Mr. Collins concluded his statement by saying that "I did not participate in any decision that authorised the sale of this land. This could only be done by the full county council in accordance with the statutory process. This occurred more than 18 months later, when I was no longer a member of Limerick County Council".
There were no opportunities following the Junior Minister's statement for opposition TD's to ask questions or make comments, although a number of his critics did take to social media to respond.
People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy tweeted that "All we have from Niall Collins is a padded out version of the statement he put out a few days ago".
Whilst Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns questioned the reasoning as to why Mr. Collins was not being subjected to opposition questions, mocking the government's suggestion that such an occurrence could be considered a "kangaroo court".
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