Tuesday 6 December 2016

Member of public shouts in face of controversial councillor John O'Donnell amid stormy scenes in Donegal County Council

Greg Harkin

Published 25/01/2016 | 13:08

Cllr John O’Donnell in the ‘RTÉ Investigates’ programme
Cllr John O’Donnell in the ‘RTÉ Investigates’ programme

DONEGAL County Council's monthly meeting had to be suspended today amid rowdy scenes as councillors battled over the future of controversial independent councillor John O'Donnell.

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A member of the public shouted in the face of the councillor during stormy exchanges.

Cllr O'Donnell featured in an RTE Investigates programme in December in which he was filmed asking for payment from undercover reporters in return for political favours.

Independent councillor Frank McBrearty had put forward a motion calling for Cllr O'Donnell to be expelled from council committees as the council doesn't have the power to remove him from the full council.

However council director Liam Ward said the council's legal advice was that the councillors didn't have the power to remove Cllr O'Donnell from committees.

Councillors voted by 20 to 12 on a counter-motion from Cllr Ian McGarvey to allow the investigation by the council ethics registrar to continue.

At that stage a group of eight people in the chamber began shouting at Fianna Fail and Fine Gael councillors.

One man approached Cllr O'Donnell and shouted into his face: "There are people living on the streets of Dublin because of politicians like you."

The group left the chamber as council chair Ciaran Brogan suspended the meeting until 2pm.

Two independent councillors, John Campbell and Micheal Mac Giolla Easpaig, walked out in protest.

Afterwards Cllr Frank McBrearty said: "I am deeply disappointed with what has happened here today.

"We needed to send a clear statement to the rest of Ireland that the people of Donegal will not stand for corruption."

He said he would now seek his own legal advice on whether or not councillors can exclude Cllr O'Donnell from committees.

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