Sligo Councillor Joe Queenan has issued a statement following his appearance before a Standards in Public Office Inquiry yesterday.
In it he says he welcomes yesterday’s opportunity to clear his name.
The former Fianna Fail and now Independent Councillor from Enniscrone was filmed secretly by an undercover RTE reporter pretending to be from a renewable energy company.
The report was broadcast in 2015 as part of an RTE investigates programme into Standards in Public Office.
Cllr Queenan appeared before a SIPO hearing yesterday on the matter.
In his statement following yesterday’s appearance, he said that he has always taken his role as a Councillor seriously.
And that he would never hesitate to meet any company that could potentially create jobs for his locality.
He says it was on that basis he met the undercover agent purporting to be from this company.
He says he regrets meeting this person and that everything he did and said in that meeting was aimed at attracting investment to the county.
Donegal Cllr John O’Donnell and Monaghan Cllr. Hughie McElvaney are also appearing before SIPO in the coming days.
Full Statement from Cllr Joe Queenan following meeting with SIPO:
I welcome the opportunity to have met the members of the Standards in Public Office Commission and to clear my name.
I have dedicated 40 years of my life working for the Sligo community and as a member of Sligo County Council for over 20 years.
I have always taken my responsibility as a councillor very seriously and as an elected member, my commitment has always been to the people of Sligo.
I make no apology for meeting any company or organisation that has an interest in that would create jobs for the community.
So, when I got the call to meet this RTE person pretending to be representing an international investment company, I regarded it as an opportunity for the county. That was my sole intention when I agreed to meet her.
As the transcripts of the interview show, I made it clear to her that I would simply ask the planners for their views as to where it would be best to locate wind turbines and which areas would not be acceptable.
I told her that I could not and would not influence the planners on the decisions they would make in respect of any planning application.
I also set out the process involved in getting planning from the initial pre-planning meetings up to and including a review by An Bord Pleanala.
On 6 occasions I made it very clear to this person that I did not want any money for this work. And I meant it.
However, when this bogus investment company representative suggested the company could help with investments in the future. I told her I might have a project in the future that could benefit from investment.
I made it very clear that this was separate from the request to help with advice on the location of wind turbines and my council duties. It was something that could be looked at in the future and this investment was for the community not for me.
I regret meeting this person and offering to help her company as she used me in an underhanded way to make a TV programme.
Although my intentions were genuine and focussed on attracting investment in Sligo, the programme did not reflect my commitment to the county. I never intended to put my duties as a councillor at risk.
Although I was not slick enough to see that I was being set up, everything I did and said was aimed at attracting investment into the county for the people of Sligo.