Saturday 15 June 2019

Councillor from RTÉ exposé tells broadcaster 'go back in the swamp'

Hughie McElvaney is lifted by his supporters when he was elected for th Ballybay Clones area on Sunday afternoon. ©Rory Geary
Hughie McElvaney is lifted by his supporters when he was elected for th Ballybay Clones area on Sunday afternoon. ©Rory Geary

Patsy McArdle

A councillor who featured in an RTÉ exposé in which he was shown asking an undercover reporter for £10,000 in exchange for securing planning permission for wind farms, has been re-elected and told the broadcaster “go back in the swamp”.

Hugh McElvaney was yesterday re-elected to Monaghan County Council as an Independent, having formerly been a Fine Gael representative.

Speaking after his re-election, Cllr McElvaney hit out angrily at RTÉ over its 2015 investigations programme entitled ‘Standards in Public Office’.

Addressing his supporters in the count centre, he said: “A monkey was tied around my back with the visit of RTÉ in 2015.

“Take your monkey off my back and go back in the swamp where you belong among the reptiles and snakes and don’t be looking where I am and just leave me alone,” he added.

He said that, after serving 45 years on Monaghan County Council, he was looking forward to having served 50 years by the end of this new term in the service of the people of Clones and Ballybay.

He said this had been a very difficult campaign for him, one of the most difficult in his years in public life.

This was because it had been decided to reduce the Municipal District from six seats to five, he said.

“I know who they were targeting but the people of Ballybay and Clones have spoken and put Hughie back where he rightly belongs,” he said.

In the RTÉ programme, Cllr McElvaney was secretly filmed asking an undercover reporter, posing as working for an international company, for £10,000 in exchange for securing planning permission for wind farms.

However the councillor, who said he resigned from Fine Gael over the Government’s backing for the controversial Eirgrid cross-border inter-connector, later said he was aware he was being “set up”.

“The first impression I got was that wind farms and Hughie McElvaney don’t go hand in hand as these are the means of generating electricity for the overhead pylons. So I immediately thought that this was a wind-up or a stitch-up,” he told a council meeting.

Cllr McElvaney added: “I decided to have a bit of fun and to find out who these people really were.”

He maintained RTÉ had attempted to “blacken and incriminate” him by playing “the real spicy bits” of a 10 to 15-minute recording.

RTÉ declined to comment when contacted by Independent.ie in relation to Cllr McElvaney’s latest remarks.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News