28 May 2022

Council chief executive says he has not seen evidence of corruption

Information sent by one councillor has been passed on to gardaí

Donegal County Council budget meeting ongoing today in County House, Lifford

John McLaughlin says no evidence of corruption has been seen

Donegal county councillors have been told that no evidence to support allegations of corruption within the council made by two county councillors has been found.

Monday’s meeting of the council was told information sent by one councillor has been passed on to gardai and a review of the purchase of houses by the council is being carried out by an outside body.

Allegations of “systematic corruption” within the council made by independent councillor Frank McBreaty have been central to heated exchanges at the council in recent months. Cllr McBreaty has been suspended from attending council meetings following a vote by fellow members after being accused by cathaoirleach of other council Jack Murray (Sinn Féin) of repeatedly disrupting meetings.

Cllr McBrearty and independent councillor Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig made allegations of corruption at the council’s budget meeting in November. Chief executive of the council, John McLaughlin, said at the time that such serious allegations should be investigated.

The allegations have been challenged by other councillors with calls for evidence to be provided.

The issue was raised at Monday’s meeting of the council by Sinn Féin councillor Gary Doherty who asked if the claims have been substantiated and are being investigated.

Cllr Muarry told the meeting he had written to both councillors asking that the allegations be substantiated.

Freedom of information requests accompanied by handwritten notes received from one of the councillors have been passed on to gardaí.

Cllr Murray said he and the chief executive agreed that an independent body should be brought in to review the claims.

Mr McLaughlin said a review of the purchase of five houses by the council in Buncrana, which questions have been asked about by Cllr McBrearty,  will be carried out by an external body.

He said no evidence of corruption has been seen “but we are happy someone else will look at it separate from us”.

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