Thursday 22 March 2018

Former FF councillor threatens to sue RTÉ over 'sting'

Joe Queenan: filmed by RTÉ
Joe Queenan: filmed by RTÉ
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A councillor at the centre of a corruption storm has denied acting improperly when he was filmed offering to help a company with planning issues.

Sligo county councillor Joe Queenan, who resigned from Fianna Fáil in the aftermath of this week's 'RTÉ Investigates' programme, said he was "sorry" for some of the things he said and "absolutely devastated and gutted" by the fallout from the broadcast.

However, he said he believes that he was entrapped and is now considering suing the broadcaster.

The councillor was secretly filmed telling an undercover reporter posing as a representative of a windfarm investment company that he could act as "a go-between" for her firm to help it navigate the planning process.

He did not seek any payment for this, but was recorded saying that he was looking for investors at a future stage for a business that he was planning.

In a statement issued by his solicitors, Cllr Queenan claimed: "The edited footage does not represent the true nature of the meeting."

He reiterated that he did not seek any payment and denied proposing that an investment be made by the fictitious company in his planned business venture in return for his help with planning issues.

Cllr Queenan claimed that "on at least 13 occasions" during the meeting with the undercover reporter he said the planning process was an impartial one and there were no guarantees that the company would get planning permission.

Monaghan County Council has now begun an examination after Cllr Hugh McElvaney was shown seeking £10,000 (€13,800) to help the fictitious investment company with planning issues. Cllr McElvaney has denied any wrongdoing and claimed that he "played along" as he wanted to expose RTÉ.

A similar ethics examination is under way in Donegal, where Independent councillor John O'Donnell was filmed.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section