Minister calls on councillors in RTÉ probe to resign seats

Job of local representative has been sullied by actions of some, says Harris

 Minister of State Simon Harris: “I think all of the councillors involved have very serious issues to reflect on.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister of State Simon Harris: “I think all of the councillors involved have very serious issues to reflect on.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Minister of State Simon Harris has called on the councillors featured on the RTÉ television expose on political lobbying to resign their local authority seats.

He said he understood the RTÉ Investigates programme material was being examined by An Garda Síochána and he was conscious of not prejudicing any action that might be taken.

“I think all of the councillors involved have very serious issues to reflect on,’’ he added. “One wonders if they can continue in public life . . . I certainly don’t think they can.’’

Two of the councillors, Hugh McElvaney, from Monaghan, and Joe Queenan, from Sligo, resigned from the councillors’ representative body, the Local Authority Members Association (LAMA) at the weekend. The membership of a third councillor, John O’Donnell, from Donegal, was “terminated with immediate effect’’ after he refused to resign.

Mr Harris was responding to an interview in the Sunday Independent with Mr McElvaney, who said he was worth €10 million and predicted he would top the poll again in the next local elections.

Mr McElvaney, a former Fine Gael councillor, told the newspaper he accepted most people would not believe his claim he knew he was being recorded when he asked for money for help with planning issues from an undercover reporter.

Shocked and horrified

“There are many fine people in public life, from all political parties and none, and I think the actions of people on that programme have sullied the job of a local representative,’’ he added.

“It is not reflective of the large majority of local representatives who do an exceptional job.’’

He said it was rather bizarre that any politician running for election could predict the outcome.

“I do not think anybody should take the people or their views for granted,’’ he said.