"No place in public life for what was witnessed by the people of Ireland", says Kenny

An investigation showed councillors asking for money in exchange for planning permission

"No place in public life for what was witnessed by the people of Ireland", says Kenny

Photo: Independent Cllr John O'Donnell, RTÉ Investigates – Standards in Public Office

New laws to improve the political ethics system could be approved as early as next week.

The laws will include the setting up of a Public Sector Standards Commissioner, and increased penalties for people who break those standards.

The news comes as Donegal County Council says it is holding an urgent investigation into the issues raised surrounding independent councillor John O'Donnell.

In the Dáil this afternoon the Taoiseach said those new measures would be implemented as soon as possible

Enda Kenny has said "there is no place in public life for what was witnessed by the people of Ireland on the RTE programme last night."

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin says rogue politicians need to be "run out of public life".

An RTÉ Investigation last night showed Councillor Hugh McElvaney asking for money in exchange for help getting planning permission for wind farms.

In a statement, Fine Gael says: "The revelations in this programme are shocking and go against the definition and spirit of public service".

"It is unacceptable for any public representative to use their position for financial gain. There can be no excuses".

Another councillor, Fianna Fáil's Joe Queenan, has resigned from his party in the wake of the programme.

A Fianna Fáil spokesman says: "Some of the behaviour displayed in tonight's programme was shocking and completely unacceptable".

"The instances where there appear to be clear breaches of the law need to be fully investigated by the gardaí and prosecutions brought where appropriate".

"Separately, in respect of any allegations that were made against current members of Fianna Fáil, the party will immediately commence an internal inquiry under the auspices of the Ard Chomhairle to establish the full facts in each instance and will take action as appropriate".

Minister Brendan Howlin says the findings of the investigation are "shocking".

While the Defence Minister Simon Coveney says he is glad that Councillor McElvaney no longer represents his party.

Mr Coveney says the behaviour of councillors featured was disgraceful.

Councillor Joe Queenan told an undercover reporter posing for a fictitious wind farm developer that he would act as a go-between the firm and Sligo County Council.

The RTÉ programme also showed former Fine Gael Councillor Hugh McElvaney of Monaghan, and Independent Donegal councillor John O'Donnell requesting money in return for help in getting planning permission for wind farms.

Yesterday, Mr McElvaney told Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show he had played along to show RTÉ up.

On last night's programme, Councillor Queenan said he did not want money - but he was looking for investment in an agri-feed company.

Corruption agency

In the wake of last night's report, the Social Democrats have called for the creation of a new and effective agency to take on all forms of corruption.

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy says corruption can be tackled if there is an amalgamation of agencies like the Standards in Public Office Commission and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

"They are all doing different things, but in actual fact there is an inter-relationship between some of the things that they do. And it would be better to have one large agency that is better resourced and has stronger powers to deal with things in real time, as they arise".