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Joe Queenan: Councillor resigns from Fianna Fáil after RTÉ secret filming

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Media captionJoe Queenan resigns after secret film: Courtesy of RTÉ Investigates

An Irish councillor has resigned from his party after he was exposed in a TV investigation that examined political lobbying and suspected corruption.

Joe Queenan, from County Sligo, quit as a member of the Republic of Ireland's main opposition party, Fianna Fáil.

He was secretly filmed by RTÉ's Prime Time Investigates programme.

He was one of three councillors who agreed to help an undercover reporter with planning permission for a bogus wind farm project.

Mr Queenan was filmed seeking a possible investment to set up an agri-business, in return for acting as an intermediary for the project.

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Media captionHugh McElvaney 'heard asking for money': Courtesy of RTÉ Investigates

A County Monaghan councillor, Hugh McElvaney, was heard asking for £10,000 to help the wind farm get planning permission.

He has recently resigned from the main government coalition party, Fine Gael.

In one recording, Mr McElvaney said: "You need to sweeten the man up, you know what I mean?

He added: "You would need to put sterling on the table," saying that "ten grand would be a start".

Independent Donegal councillor, John O'Donnell, was recorded as saying he would seek payment through another person.

All three councillors have denied any wrongdoing and no money exchanged hands.

Mr McElvaney claimed he knew it was a "sting" and played along to expose what he described as "RTÉ's dirty tricks".

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Media captionJohn O'Donnell was also recorded: Courtesy of RTÉ Investigates

Mr O'Donnell has said he is consulting his legal advisers, and in a statement accepting Mr Queenan's resignation, a Fianna Fáil spokesperson described what was exposed as "shocking" and "unacceptable".

The Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, said: "Citizens will be deeply angered at the revelations of political corruption."

There have been calls for the Standards in Public Office, the statutory body responsible for compliance with ethics legislation, to be given powers to initiate its own investigations rather than wait for complaints to be made to it, which is the current position.

However, such legislation will not be passed before the general election, expected early next year.

Nor is it likely that an independent regulator into suspected planning corruption will be in position for the poll; that was one of the main recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal into alleged planning corruption.

As a result of the programme, there have been calls for stronger anti-corruption laws and, more importantly, more resources for the Republic of Ireland's police force (An Garda Síochána) to fight white collar crime.

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