SIPO probe finds Councillor Hugh McElvaney breached ethics laws during undercover investigation

SIPO probe finds Councillor Hugh McElvaney breached ethics laws during undercover investigation
Councillor Hugh McElvaney in the RTE footage

An investigation has found that Monaghan County Councillor Hugh McElvaney breached ethics laws.

The Standards in Public Office (SIPO) Commission probe followed an RTÉ Investigates programme in 2015.

Undercover footage showed the councillor pledging to act as the "conduit" between a fictitious company and the county council, claiming he would want "loads of money" if the process was successful.

It featured an undercover reporter posing as an international investor interested in acquiring sites for wind energy production in Ireland.

In meetings with a number of county councillors, the 'investor' said she needed help with local opposition and reducing planning permission risks.

Cllr McElvaney detailed the process that would need to be undertaken in order to obtain planning permission for a wind farm.

During the SIPO investigation, Cllr McElvaney and his legal counsel had argued that as a local councillor and local businessman the politician was "anxious if possible to ensure that any such investment would enure for the benefit of his County and the local economy".

In a report published today, SIPO says it found against Councillor McElvaney in respect of four alleged contraventions.

It says he "failed to maintain proper standards of integrity, conduct and concern for the public interest".

In relation to one of the four findings, the report states: "The Commission finds that Councillor McElvaney conflated his roles as Councillor and businessman and used his position as Councillor in order to promote his private interests by agreeing to provide information and assistance to the fictitious investment company in respect of the planning process in return for a financial reward."

Copies of the report have now been sent to Cllr McElvaney, the Cathaoirleach and Chief Executive of Monaghan County Council, and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

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