MCELVANEY HITS OUT AT CO COUNCIL “KANGAROO COURT”

24 June 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Internal investigation found no corruption or malpractice says Independent councillor

PETER HUGHES

Strong comments in relation to the actions and statements of some members of Monaghan Co Council in the aftermath of the “RTÉ Investigates” controversy in which he was embroiled in December last were made by Hugh McElvaney at Monday’s Annual Meeting of the local authority.

The Independent councillor used the term “kangaroo court” to describe the special meeting convened by the Co Council on December 16 last year at which a motion, proposed by Sinn Féin councillor Pat Treanor and seconded by his party colleague Cathy Bennett, was passed calling on him to resign from the authority.

A proposal had been made at the meeting by Independent councillor Paudge Connolly, seconded by P J O’Hanlon of Fianna Fáil, asking that Colr McElvaney be asked to voluntarily step down from the Council pending the outcome of an internal investigation, but this was ruled out of order when the SF proposal was carried by majority vote.

The special meeting was prompted by Colr McElvaney’s appearance on an edition of “RTÉ Investigates” in which he was one of a number of public representatives secretly filmed having discussions with an undercover reporter purporting to represent a company seeking to develop wind farms in Ireland.

The programme showed Colr McElvaney stating that he wished to receive financial payment – or “loads of money” – in return for assistance with planning matters. Colr McElvaney subsequently stated that he was aware from the initial stages that he was the subject of what he termed a “sting” operation but had gone along with it in order to expose “the dirty tricks of RTÉ”.

In March of this year, Co Council Chief Executive Eamonn O’Sullivan made a brief statement to a meeting of the authority in which he said that a report produced as the result of an internal investigation into the allegations arising from the RTÉ programme had been referred by the Council to the Standards in Public Office Commission. The content of the Co Council report wasn’t publicly disclosed, and the Chief Executive said he would be making no further statement on the matter until the Commission had determined its findings.

Colr McElvaney said on Monday that the internal investigation carried out by the Co Council into this matter had found no evidence of wrongdoing against him under a series of headings, and that he was now awaiting the outcome of the findings of the Standards on Public Office Commission to which the report that the internal investigation produced had been forwarded.

When the members were paying tribute to the outgoing Cathaoirleach, Noel Keelan of Sinn Féin, for his work in that role over the previous year, Colr McElvaney said he wanted to join the other members in complimenting Colr Keelan on his year of service. He had been most respectful and courteous to all members.

“MY BIT OF FUN WITH R.T.É.”

He wanted to say a special word of thanks to the outgoing Cathaoirleach because he was one of the members of the internal investigation that looked into “my bit of fun with RTÉ”. He was so glad that Colr Keelan, as a member of the SF party, was part of the investigation team which had come up with the result of no malpractice and no breach of the planning laws by himself. Had the Cathaoirleach been a member of other political parties allegations might have been made of a cover-up.

“I am so happy that you were the person involved along with Eamonn O’Sullivan, our Chief Executive,” Colr McElvaney told Colr Keelan.

He knew that the report produced by the internal investigation had been referred to the Standards in Public Office Commission and he would await their decision. But he was so thankful for the decision the internal investigation had made and was very thankful for the outgoing Cathaoirleach’s input.
Colr McElvaney added that he wanted to let the Council members and the press know that when the Standards Commission reported, he would bring that report to the chamber “and we will see where we go with that.”

“Thanks, Noel, you are a decent fella. You and I have always been great friends. We have soldiered together nationally and locally and have a lot of respect for each other.”

Later in the meeting, during congratulatory comments made in respect of the election of P J O’Hanlon as the new Council Cathaoirleach, Colr McElvaney in paying his own tribute and associating with the remarks stated:
“Boy, do I know how fair you are. This is my 42nd year to be at a Co Council AGM and I am delighted that I have experienced in more ways than one, your fairness.”

Colr McElvaney then referred to “December 16 2015, when a kangaroo court sat here in this chamber and found me guilty. It was as if a gallows was built in the centre of the floor, and the SF party’s Brian McKenna put the rope around my neck and Pat Treanor pulled the trap door and everyone shouted, “Hang him!””

However, Colr O’Hanlon and Independent councillor Paudge Connolly came shining through like a beacon of light, Colr McElvaney added. He told the new Cathaoirleach that it was very courageous for him to do the job he did in breaking party ranks, and subsequently going on Northern Sound radio to defend his actions.

“Others went on Northern Sound looking for their pound of flesh – not really a pound but 16 stone, but the investigation committee found me innocent.”
Colr McElvaney told Colr O’Hanlon: “You are a fair man – have you not a fair mind and a belief in due process? I look forward to the coming year when you are the boss because I will have no difficulty with you and you will have no difficulty with me.”

The Independent representative added that the investigation committee had found no malpractice, breach of planning rules, corruption or bribery “but unfortunately the majority of the members here did and that is sad.”

He wished Colr O’Hanlon well, and Colr Seamus Treanor well in the position of Leas Cathaoirleach.
mcelvaney

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