Friday 23 August 2019

Councillor subject of SIPO findings after RTÉ undercover programme 'in hospital with chest pains'

Cllr John O'Donnell. Photo: North West Newspix
Cllr John O'Donnell. Photo: North West Newspix Newsdesk Newsdesk

A county councillor who was at the centre of an RTÉ undercover investigation and had SIPO findings made against him says he's now in hospital having treatment for "chest pains".

Donegal County Councillor John O'Donnell took to his facebook account today, telling followers he was in Letterkenny General Hospital.

His Facebook post and picture - apparently taken from his bed - comes a week after the Standards In Public Office issued a finding against him saying he "conflated" his role as a councillor and businessman.

"Not where I wanted to end up 7 weeks out from an election but I guess there’s only so much pressure any man can take ," Cllr O'Donnell wrote.

"Iv [sic] had severe pains in my chest and it started to work down my arm over the past few days, so after a trip to now Doc yesterday Iv [sic] being [sic] referred and admitted to Letterkenny General Hospital.

"Hopefully it’s nothing too serious and I’ll be back on the canvass trail again next week," he said.

Last week, SIPO issued their findings on Cllr O'Donnell's involvement in the RTÉ investigation.

The programme showed Cllr O'Donnell engaging with an undercover reporter purporting to be Ms Carlsson from Vinst Opportunities. He had a telephone call and meeting with the reporter in 2015, which were secretly recorded.

Mr O’Donnell also had engagements with the same reporter purporting to be Ms Carlsson from Vinst Opportunities. He had a telephone call and a meeting with the reporter in November 2015, both of which were secretly recorded.

“When asked by the undercover reporter whether he would be in a position to assist with the planning process, Councillor O’Donnell stated that he was a developer and business person himself and that, in contrast to many of his colleagues on Donegal County Council, was supportive of appropriate developments,” the Sipo report said.

 “He indicated that, for such developments, having a local person such as himself working with Donegal County Council on the pre-planning process would be ‘massive advantage’.”

He told the reproter he would "lobby the other councillors to be more supportive of wind farm development”.

Sipo also found Cllr O'Donnell said that there would be no cost “to the investment company for his initial scoping work but that future work would require something in return and this would be paid through his solicitor”.

Sipo found Cllr O'Donnell "conflated his role as councillor and businessman and used his position as councillor to promote his private interests as a businessman".

Sipo found Cllr O'Donnell had contravened the Local Government Act on three occasions. They issued their findings last week.

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