Ethics body to hold public hearings in probe of three councillors

The Standards in Public Office Commission is to hold public hearings later this year as part of its investigation into three councillors from Sligo, Donegal and Monaghan.

It arises from interviews with the councillors broadcast in an RTE Prime Time programme almost two and a half years ago.

The Standards in Public Office Commission, commonly known as SIPO, has issued three statements on its website in relation to the councillors.

They state that Joe Queenan of Sligo, John O Donnell of Donegal and Hugh McElvaney of Monaghan are being investigated into alleged contraventions of the Ethical Frameworks for the Local Government Service.

A public hearing in relation to Cllr Queenan on September 10th, Cllr John O Donnell on September 11th and Cllr Hugh McElvaney on September 17th.

The public hearings will be at SIPO’s offices, at 18 Lower Leeson Street in Dublin.

The statements say the Commission may direct that all or part of any sitting be held in private, it it is considered appropriate.

In the RTE Investigates programme in December 2015, all three councillors were secretly filmed during individual meetings with an undercover researcher.

The researcher who interviewed the councillors purported to be working for a company — which was fictitious — on behalf of international windfarm financiers

The SIPO investigation is to determine if any of the councillors broke ethical rules and if they acted properly in their roles as councillors.