Saturday 3 December 2016

John O'Donnell: RTÉ probe can help me into the Dáil

Greg Harkin

Published 09/01/2016 | 02:30

Councillor John O’Donnell. Photo: NewsPix
Councillor John O’Donnell. Photo: NewsPix

An independent councillor at the centre of political corruption allegations says he may stand in the General Election, claiming an RTÉ probe has boosted his support.

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Donegal county councillor John O'Donnell was filmed by the 'RTÉ Investigates' programme appearing to ask for money for political favours.

Fellow councillors on the local authority have called for him to resign his seat.

But in a wide-ranging ­interview yesterday, Mr O'Donnell said he was going to sue RTÉ over the programme and claimed its broadcast had boosted his popularity among supporters.

He said he was also now seriously considering a run for a seat in the Dáil in the General Election.

"I'm ruling nothing out and I'll make a call shortly," he told the 'Donegal News'.

"I've a lot of supporters who are behind me, 100pc. If anything this (the RTÉ programme) will make me come back stronger than ever. My team is 110pc behind me."

The politician - whose late father was a leading member of ­Independent Fianna Fáil - said his supporters knew he had been 'wronged' by the TV investigation. "I need to get my head down for a few days," he said.

"It has been a very tough month but if I do run (in the election) I will be one of the frontrunners.

"The support is there and if I do go, I'll give it a good rattle."

He again accused RTÉ of entrapment and claimed he had spent the past few days preparing a High Court action against the broadcaster.

"I'm taking them to the High Court. It was total entrapment on their part," he claimed.

In the broadcast documentary last month, Mr O'Donnell was seen to ask for payments for helping a fictitious wind farm company.

He winked at an undercover RTÉ journalist and asked for money to be paid to a third party.

Last night, fellow independent councillor and anti-corruption campaigner Frank McBrearty Jnr described the interview as an 'insult' to voters.

"This is a man who is at the centre of an investigation by Donegal County Council," said Mr McBrearty.

"It's an insult to the people of Donegal for him to think he has any support left after what he has done."

Mr McBrearty added: "There is still a great deal of anger over that (RTÉ) programme."

Irish Independent

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