A county councillor with many years service as a public representative demanded £10,000 sterling from an undercover RTÉ reporter acting for a fake wind farm company and seeking help with planning issues, according to the national broadcaster.
A second councillor asked that payment for such assistance be made through a third party to protect his reputation, while a third councillor suggested to the reporter that the company she represented might in the future be prepared to take part in a joint business venture with him.
The RTÉ Investigates ‘Standards in Public Office’ programme will be broadcast tonight at 9.35pm
It will also outline how two TDs and two Senators did not disclose that they were company directors in their declaration of interests while a further two TDs failed to disclose properties they owned. Five county councillors investigated by the programme also failed in declaring all their interests.
The programme team investigated declarations by the State's 949 councillors, 166 TDs, 60 Senators and 11 MEPs. " We investigated every single politician in the country, regardless of political party," said reporter Conor Ryan. They found that breaches of the declaration requirement were "widespread".
An undercover reporter ‘Nina’, fronting for a fake wind farm company, approached councillors for help with planning, on a confidential basis. A handful agreed to meet her. “What’s in it for me?” asked the most enthusiastic councillor she called. “What are you putting on the table for me?”
When she asked what he had in mind, he said “£10,000 would be a start, a nice little figure isn’t it?” He warned her that it had to be “utterly confidential. If you let me down there’ll be war”.
The second councillor featured had been on the tax defaulters list five times in the past four years. He showed “no hesitation” in meeting the fake company representative and told her that he could deliver 25 to 30 council votes for the proposed wind farm development. However, he insisted that payment be through a third party. “For my reputation he has to be involved,” he said, as there were “so many begrudgers out there”. The third councillor said he wasn’t seeking anything “at the moment” for his help, but suggested the wind farm company might be interested in taking a share with him in a business he wanted to buy. The maximum involved would be €200,000 he said.