New political ethics laws to be brought to Cabinet next week

It follows a documentary which saw councillors ask for money in exchange for planning permission

RTE investigates, documentary, political ethics, new laws, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Public Service Standards Commission

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New laws are to be brought to Cabinet next week to overhaul the political ethics system.

A Public Service Standards Commission will be created, with higher expectations for public office holders.

The move follows an RTÉ documentary on Monday, which contained footage of three county councillors who appeared to accept offers of money or future investment in return for help with the planning process.

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

But deputy leader of the Green Party, Catherine Martin, says councillors featured in the documentary must resign their seats - not just party membership.

And she says any commission needs to be independent.

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny said yesterday the new measures would be implemented as soon as possible.

He said: "There is no place in public life for what was witnessed by the people of Ireland on the RTÉ programme".

In a statement, Fine Gael said: "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".

While a Fianna Fáil spokesman said: "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".