Saturday 20 January 2018

Councillor should now resign, says FF TD he canvassed for in 2011

Cllr John O’Donnell lifting Fianna Fáil’s Charlie McConalogue following his election to the Dail in 2011
Cllr John O’Donnell lifting Fianna Fáil’s Charlie McConalogue following his election to the Dail in 2011

Greg Harkin and Shane Phelan

Fianna Fail education spokesman Charlie McConalogue has called on former party worker John O'Donnell to resign his council seat.

Cllr O'Donnell is one of three local politicians at the centre of a corruption storm after being filmed offering to secretly work behind the scenes to help a fictitious windfarm investment company with planning issues.

The 34-year-old was previously a member of Fianna Fáil, but secured a seat on Donegal County Council as an Independent last year.

Donegal County Council last night passed a motion calling for Cllr O'Donnell to resign his seat following the broadcast of the 'RTÉ Investigates' programme last Monday. He has refused to bow to this pressure, claiming he was entrapped by RTÉ and said he is considering suing the State broadcaster.

The motion from independent John Campbell was passed.

Fianna Fáil councillors in Donegal have also said that Cllr O'Donnell's position is now untenable.

Independent Councillor Michael McBride, speaking on behalf of the independents group on the council, asked for Cllr O'Donnell to be removed from committees during an ethics investigation.

The motion calling for O'Donnell to resign was passed unanimously without a vote.

However, the pressure intensified further after Mr McConalogue said that he believed Cllr O'Donnell should now go.

Cllr O'Donnell's father Eddie had been an Independent Fianna Fáil councillor on Donegal County Council until his death in a traffic accident in 1993.

Cllr O'Donnell worked as a canvasser for Mr Conalogue and was later pictured (right) lifting him aloft after the result of the ballot was announced.

"John O'Donnell volunteered his support for my election campaign in 2011 along with many volunteers across the constituency," said Mr McConalogue.

"I find the behaviour of the councillors filmed in the 'RTÉ Investigates' programme totally unacceptable. It is my view that the three councillors who were filmed should resign their council seats without further delay."

In the programme, Cllr O'Donnell was filmed telling an undercover reporter posing as a representative of the investment company that he would work tirelessly for it to assist with a planning issue. He was filmed asking to be paid through another individual for this work.

Meanwhile, councillors in Monaghan are to hold a special meeting next Wednesday to discuss the behaviour of Independent Cllr Hugh McElvaney.

He was recorded in the same programme seeking Stg£10,000 to help the fictitious company with planning, but has denied any wrongdoing, claiming that he was aware of the RTÉ sting.

A third councillor, former Fianna Fáil representative Joe Queenan, has also refused to resign from Sligo County Council.

He has claimed that he was entrapped into offering to assist with planning matters and insisted that he never asked for payment.

Irish Independent

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