Unredacted records from failed social housing deal between Westmeath County Council and former minister Robert Troy finally released by local authority

Westmeath County Council has at last released a set of unredacted records relating to a social housing deal involving former minister Robert Troy.

The local authority had been ordered to release the records in this decision from the Information Commissioner (OIC).

However, four weeks after the decision was published – they still had not arrived and only did after the OIC were contacted to give them a gentle reminder. 

The records relate to a plan by a company involving Robert Troy to sell four apartments to Westmeath County Council for social housing.

They had agreed a price of just over €900,000 for the units but tenders for the project came back higher than expected at €1.06 million.

In emails, Westmeath County Council said they might be able to pay an extra 10% but said the higher price was unlikely to be sanctioned.

However, the Department of Housing baulked at any renegotiation saying it had been their understanding work had already begun and the price cited previously was final.

They asked how the council could demonstrate “excellent value for money” citing a search they did on Daft.ie that appeared to show there was “no shortage” of similar units available in Mullingar for less.

The department said their unit cost ceiling for a one or two-bedroom apartment in the area was far lower than what was now being quoted.

Westmeath County Council subsequently told the developers that they were not in position to progress the scheme owing to the “substantial increase” in costs.

The developers then said they would proceed with the development using their original pricing saying they were no longer “achieving the 10% profit on the deal as [they] hoped”.

As part of this request, Westmeath County Council has also been instructed to search for other records they may hold on the deal.