Saturday 24 February 2018

The quiet man of Sligo politics at the centre of a national scandal

Councillor Joe Queenan
Councillor Joe Queenan

Greg Harkin

If you ask almost anyone in Sligo politics how well they know Cllr Joe Queenan, it's hard to find anyone who knows him well.

Not one to engage in long conversation, party colleagues saw him as a 'steady Eddie' who worked hard for his constituents in the Dromore area where he has been an elected county councillor since June 1999.

But few knew him well at all.

"He was a solid, reliable colleague," said one Fianna Fáil colleague.

"But I wouldn't say anyone in the party knows Joe that well. He just got on with it."

He may have been the quiet man of Co Sligo politics, but he was also a politician who held high office locally.

He was Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council 2014-2015 and wore his chain of office when Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla visited Sligo in May.

He is also a former Chairman of the Board at IT Sligo and a former Co-Chair of the Sligo GAA County Board.

Queenan, who quit Fianna Fáil within hours of the RTE programme, has a number of business interests and would travel more than an hour every day between his convenience stores in Enniscrone and Strandhill.

"He was a country man who represented people from the country," said another Fianna Fáil member.

Getting any Fianna Fáil councillors to talk about their ex-colleague yesterday proved difficult.

Cllr Eamon Scanlon said it was "up to Joe himself" whether he should now quit his seat on the council.

"We've been friends a long time and I'd prefer not to say anything at this stage," said the Fianna Fáil councillor, clearly still struggling to digest the contents of the RTé programme.

But former Fine Gael county councillor David Cawley said: "I would have had many dealings with him. He's been in the council since 1999 and if anyone knows the law then it's people like Joe Queenan.

"He's been around long enough to know what's right and what's not.

"It's not small beer asking for €200,000 in loans. His position is untenable and unfortunately his behaviour will reflect badly on all those who work hard and cleanly in local government."

Irish Independent

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