Cllr Joe Queenan’s response to RTE programme

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STATEMENT: Cllr Joe Queenan handing over the chain of office Cllr Rosaleen O'Grady earlier this year. The Cllr has made a statement in response to an RTE Investigates programme this week.
STATEMENT: Cllr Joe Queenan handing over the chain of office to Cllr Rosaleen O’Grady earlier this year. Cllr Queenan has made a statement in response to an RTE Investigates programme this week.

The RTÉ Investigates programme has made false allegations against me that I wish to address

publicly:

In late October I was contacted by a woman called ‘Nina Carlsson’ who claimed to be a representative for

an investment company looking to build wind farms in the Sligo area. I agreed to meet her for a quick chat

in the foyer of the Sligo Park Hotel but on the morning of the meeting she changed the venue to a room in

the Great Southern Hotel. I wanted to meet this lady in a public place and it was RTÉ who arranged that the

meeting take place behind closed doors. For the past number of weeks my solicitor has been repeatedly

requesting RTÉ to broadcast the entire footage filmed at that meeting as the edited footage does not give a

fair and honest account of the conversation that took place between myself and this undercover reporter.

On at least 13 occasions during the course of the conversation I told the reporter that the planning process

was an impartial one and that no-one could guarantee her company success and I said to her “If you are

asking can I go into the council if you apply for planning permission or if you apply for planning and I can go

to them and do something with the officials or, I can’t”.

It has been repeated in the press in the last couple of days that I offered to act as an intermediary for this

company in return for an investment in a business I was planning. I never sought payment of any kind from

this undercover reporter for assisting her. During our conversations the undercover reporter on 9 occasions

referred to money and payment to me and I repeatedly said at least 14 times that I wanted no payment from

her. I told her “The way I work anything you ask me to do, I will do for the benefit of Sligo”, “And I don’t want

any fee or nothing like that for anything I do for you. Right?”, “I will work with you yes. It will cost you

nothing. I am not looking for anything out of it”, “I will work with ye. Free gratis and for nothing”.

RTÉ has stated that I proposed an investment be made by this fictitious company in a business interest that

I had in return for assisting them in the planning process. I completely deny this allegation. I repeatedly

said that I wanted no payment for assisting them in the pre-planning process. During the course of my

conversation with the undercover reporter I said I was a businessman and I mentioned that I may have a

potential future investment, that I was thinking of getting some investors and that it may be a family member

of mine that ends up investing rather than anyone else. I repeatedly stated in the follow up call with the

undercover reporter that if we did go into business together in the future that it would be “totally on a

business nature, everything above board” and that “I would never even contemplate looking for money from

anybody… you have to have a business plan …..and you have to sign an agreement that you are going to

pay back”. The reality of local government is that most elected representatives carry on business interests

outside of their roles as a county councillor in order to make a living. I am an auctioneer and a small local

businessman. I am extremely proud of my local area and like most local business people I am keen to see it

thrive economically. It will be clear to anyone who viewed the RTÉ programme that I did not go to that

meeting dressed to impress a potential business partner. I at all times believed I was meeting this lady for a

quick chat in a public place to act on behalf of local interests and I felt that as a councillor I have a duty to

assist potential investment opportunities for my locality. I made no promise of success to this reporter and I

sought no reward.

Having viewed the programme last night I can understand why people feel angry at what they saw. I am

angry also. The edited footage does not represent the true nature of the meeting between myself and the

undercover reporter and this is why I have repeatedly asked RTÉ to broadcast the entire conversation. I

apologise wholeheartedly for the fact that my statutory declaration for 2015 was not filled out correctly and I

have now amended this declaration. I also regret ever mentioning any potential future investment

opportunity as I now recognise that the way that the conversation was edited makes it seem as if I was

seeking a personal benefit when I never was. I at all times believed I was meeting this reporter in a public

place to speak about a local matter and I repeatedly told her, during and after this meeting, that I never

expected or requested any payment for that assistance. RTÉ has accused me of being in breach of Section

247 of the Planning Act 2000 and I unequivocally deny this accusation. I am now considering all of my legal

options in relation to this matter.

It is with regret that after so many years with the party I have now been forced to sever my ties with Fianna

Fáil. For the sake of my family and supporters I regret that my involvement with Fianna Fáil has meant that

the media have decided to misrepresent me in this case rather than focusing their attention on the two

elected representatives featured in the programme who did in fact seek payment for themselves. However,

my main concern is, was and always will be County Sligo. I have had an active role for a long number of

years in various local community groups and public life generally and I hope that the people of Sligo will

allow me to continue to be active in those areas into the future.

-Councillor Joseph Queenan

8th December, 2015

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