Ex-FG councillor to face watchdog

A former Fine Gael councillor caught on camera by an undercover reporter seeking £10,000 in cash in return for business favours is set to be brought before an ethics watchdog over the controversy in September.

Ex-FG councillor to face watchdog

Hugh McElvaney has been told to appear before a six-member committee of the Standards in Public Office (SIPO), alongside two other councillors, over the 2015 RTÉ Prime Time investigation.

Mr McElvaney, who despite the controversy still holds his seat on Monaghan County Council, was videoed three years ago asking to be paid £10,000 in sterling by a person he believed to be a businesswoman in return for working for investors.

The former Fine Gael member, who resigned from the party in the lead up to the broadcast, believed he was speaking with a representative of a company called Vinst Opportunities, which was a cover for the RTÉ Prime Time investigation.

Despite the video evidence, Mr McElvaney subsequently claimed he knew the person was an undercover reporter and only asked for the money to make the report appear “sexy”.

“I knew it was RTÉ, they’ve trapped me before, and I knew that there was somebody acting the fool with me.

“So I lured them into their own trap, there’s no problem. It puts Mike Murphy and PJ Gallagher into the shade,” claimed Mr McElvaney at the time.

Two other councillors who also appeared on the programme will also be brought before SIPO in September over allegations raised during the investigation.

John O'Donnell from Donegal filmed in a meeting with an undercover RTÉ Reporter RTÉ Investigates - Standards in Public Office
John O'Donnell from Donegal filmed in a meeting with an undercover RTÉ Reporter RTÉ Investigates - Standards in Public Office

Donegal County Council member John O’Donnell, and Sligo County Council member Joe Queenan, will face questions over alleged breaches of the ethical framework under the Local Government Act 2011.

The ethical framework outlines the rules for what councillors must declare and forbids them from accepting third-party payment for their work as a public representative.

Mr Queenan, who resigned from Fianna Fáil after the programme, suggested while being secretly filmed that the fake business could lend him money for his own business.

Similarly, Independent councillor Mr O’Donnell said if he helped investors he would have to be paid through a business partner to make it appear he was unconnected to the fake firm.

The SIPO hearings will take place from September 10 to 17, at which point the independent watchdog will rule on the revelations.

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