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RTE Investigates makes allegations against Irish politicians

NewsBy Sunday World
Hugh Mc Elvaney
Hugh Mc Elvaney

RTE Investigates revealed a shocking level of alleged wrong doing by a number of Irish politicians tonight.

The most explosive related to one Monaghan councillor, Hugh McElvaney, who was filmed asking for 'a lot of money' to help an investor with planning permission for a windfarm project.

Cllr McElvaney can be heard saying: "You need to sweeten the man up, you know what I mean ... You would need to put sterling on the table."

Asked how much he wanted, he was recorded replying: "Ten grand would be a start."

He added: "If the money is in the bag, the keener I will be."

At a subsequent meeting, videotaped using a hidden camera, he said he was "only fooling" about the £10,000, that he didn't know how much he would want and he would get paid only if the project was a success. "If it is successful for you, I want loads of money," he said.

Cllr McElvaney last night denied any wrongdoing, claiming he knew it was a "sting" but went along with it, as he wanted to expose what he described as an RTÉ "dirty tricks campaign" against him. "I had to make it as juicy as possible or there would be no show and I had to make it quite sexy so I answered all her questions to make her interested," he told the Irish Independent.

"It takes nerves of steel to do this. I have certainly incriminated myself but I had to do this to expose RTÉ. That's the type of man I am. Everyone knows I would never take a bribe."

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

Other councillors shown on camera agreeing to help investors were Donegal Independent John O'Donnell who was recorded saying he would be paid for this work through another person while Sligo Fianna Fáil representative Joe Queenan agreed to help, but did not ask for a payment.

Tonight, Queenan has resigned.

A statement issued on behalf of Cllr O'Donnell said his reference to a payment was made on the basis that he as a businessman might be participating in any project that materialised from work he would be completing as a businessman.

Any payments for such work would be dealt with by a professional team he was putting together and strictly in accordance with the law and ethics disclosure procedures.

All three have denied any wrongdoing.

RTE also found 40 councillors accepted they had omissions in their statutory ethics declarations and 40 per cent of the country's almost 1,000 councillors did not declare any property interests, even though they are required to include their family home.

The show also found seven TDs and Senators who did not make a full declaration of their business interests as they are required to do.

They were TD's John Perry, Ann Phelan, Áine Collins, Tom Barry and Noel Grealish, plus Senator's Tom Sheahan and Mary Ann O’Brien. 

The programme said that the seven, once contacted by RTE, would amend the record.