Controversial county councillor John O’Donnell is to appear on RTE’s Primetime programme once again after he was door-stepped by RTE.
In an RTE follow-up to the SIPO report after their Standards in Public Office programme in December 2015, reporter Conor Ryan caught up with Cllr O’Donnell out on the campaign trail on Tuesday.
The reporter is reported to have asked O’Donnell on camera, as he gets into his car: “Are you going to apologise for what you have done…”
The segment features on Prime Time tonight (Thursday) after the main evening news as the programme revisits councillors filmed in relation to Prime Time’s original investigation.
Cllr. O’Donnell has not given any media interviews on the subject during the election campaign.
O’Donnell has hit out at RTE’s ‘interest’ in him saying he feels this latest episode is ‘nothing short of a witch hunt’ and is totally unfair to his supporters a week out from the local elections.
O’Donnell refused to answer any questions after being approached by the RTE team at Rosemount in Kilmacrennan. He said he was asked if he would apologise to the electorate for the findings in the SIPO report.
The Councillor drove away accompanied by his mother, Anne as they completed a canvass in their own home town.
In the brief exchange, John O’Donnell invited Conor Ryan to join him around Kilmacrennan and to see the volume of projects he’s delivered over the past five years.
He also extended and invitation to RTE’s Prime Time to join him when the count is finished in Letterkenny where he offers to respond to questions …but only after the electorate has spoken.
In their original programme in December 2015 the RTÉ Investigations Unit set up a fictitious company called Vinst Opportunities.
The imaginary investors were looking to develop wind farms in Ireland and on that basis, councillors – identified as having failed to declare significant interests were contacted to see if they were willing to provide assistance in avoiding difficulties in securing planning permission for a development.
An undercover reporter ‘Nina’ interviewed the Cllrs seeking their views on how to get planning permission for a windfarm and the costs involved for their assistance in processing planning permission.
Three Councillors, Hugh McElvaney, Monaghan, John O’Donnell and FF’s Joe Queenan of Sligo were interviewed and subsequently they were the subject of a SIPO investigation. The report found O’Donnell and Queenan had behaved in a manner not appropriate to the role of an elected representative.
A third investigation into Monaghan Councillor Hugh McElvaney has been halted pending a High Court judicial review. Cllr O’Donnell failed in his bid to join this High Court action and put SIPOC’s inquiry into his actions on hold.
Following public hearings in September 2018, the Standards in Public Office Commission, their report was published on 3rd April. It found against Councillor O’Donnell in all three of the allegations levelled at him.
It said Cllr O’Donnell offered to provide significant assistance to potential wind farm investors in exchange for a financial reward, agreed to work as a member of a local authority on the promise of a future payment by investors and that he failed uphold the Code of Conduct for Councillors.
Cllr. O’Donnell has always rejected findings of any wrongdoing on his part and failed to attend a recent Council meeting to consider the findings of the SIPO report.
He has said the real judges of his character will be the electorate on May 24th.
“After that I’m available and willing to give medai interviews… no bother at all,” said O’Donnell in ‘an exclusive sound bite’ with the Tribune.Tags: