Council to consider Sipo criticisms of leaflet about immigrants next month

Cllr Séamus Treanor says no law exists that censures a councillor for expressing views

A highly critical report about an election leaflet issued by an Independent councillor in Co Monaghan prior to the 2019 local elections is to be discussed by the local authority next month.

The Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) found that Cllr Séamus Treanor had breached the code of conduct for councillors, and the Ethics in Public Office Act. It has forwarded its report on the matter to the chief executive and cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council.

According to the Local Government Act, 2001, where a commission report is furnished to a local authority, “it shall be considered by the elected council. The elected council shall decide on such action as to be taken as may be considered appropriate in all the circumstances.”

The council told The Irish Times that the report is to be considered at its February meeting. The cathaoirleach, Cllr Aidan Campbell, said he was not sure what options were available to the meeting in response to the report.


Cllr Treanor said there was “nothing that can happen next” as there are no laws in existence that allow for the censuring of a councillor for expressing his views.

“There are no sanctions [provided for] in the Act,” he said. “Sinn Féin councillors will go to town on it, that will be the type of thing that will happen.”

Sipo said the leaflet, which focused on matters to do with immigrants, contained factually inaccurate statements and was designed to “pit one group of the community against another”. It said Cllr Treanor’s conduct had been a serious contravention of the statutory provision governing the conduct of councillors and that he had not acted in good faith when preparing and issuing the leaflet.

The report was issued following a remote hearing held by Sipo in November, which heard from Cllr Treanor. The inquiry into the leaflet followed the receipt of complaints calling it “racist, dangerous and xenophobic”.

Cllr Treanor said he did not accept Sipo’s finding that the statements made in his leaflet were inaccurate. “Sipo was set up to deal with people who were taking brown envelopes and what have you, it wasn’t set up for this,” he said. “This is a total witch-hunt.”

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent