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"I lured her into my trap" - councillor claims he was only playing along with £10k RTÉ sting

Hugh McElvaney says HE has in fact caught RTÉ ‘red-handed’.

A 42-YEAR Monaghan councillor secretly recorded asking for £10,000 says he was “taking the piss out of RTÉ” by playing along with the sting operation.

Cllr. Hugh McElvaney has also claimed that he is being targeted by a “dirty tricks campaign” led by his former Fine Gael party.

In an RTÉ documentary set to be broadcast tonight, McElvaney is recorded speaking to a journalist posing as a businesswoman and asking,  “are you going to pay me by the hour or by the job?”.

“Ten grand would be a start,” he adds.

During the course of a subsequent face-to-face meeting, the confidentiality of their dealings is stressed with McElvaney filmed saying, “if you let me down, there’ll be war.”

But speaking this morning to Northern Sound FM, McElvaney claims he was only playing along with the journalist because he knew from the outset that someone was trying to dupe him.

“Any public representative worth his salt would have nothing to do with an investment company or developer of any kind,” he said.

“There are politicians that have gone to jail for this. Did you think I was a gombeen man from Monaghan? Obviously you did, but I’m not such a gombeen. So I lured her into my trap.”

The undercover segment of the programme features the creation of a fake investment company called Vinst Opportunities that purported to seek help in investing in the wind energy sector.

McElvaney says that he knew from the outset that there was something fishy about his initial phonecall with the interested investor ‘Nina’.

“It was a dirty tricks campaign by somebody, I wasn’t sure who but RTÉ was this first that came to mind,” he said.

Source: RTÉ TV Promotions/YouTube

McElvaney was a Fine Gael member during the time of filming last month. He has since left the party, claiming opposition to the North-South electricity interconnector.

Speaking today, he says that Fine Gael are behind the RTÉ programme as part of a “dirty tricks campaign”.

“They’ve already got rid of one TD and now they were getting rid of a leading councillor in Monaghan. I don’t know if it was done locally or nationally,” he added.

McElvaney told Northern Sound’s Joe Finnegan Show that he understands people may find it hard to believe that he was only acting.

“They’ll find it incredible, as I say, I put PJ Gallagher and Mike Murphy in the shade. I don’t require any bribes or any corruption,” he said.

“It was a piss pull, it was what we call ‘taking the piss’ out of RTÉ and I proved it,” he said.

Councillor Hugh McElvaney - RTE Investigates - Standards in Public Office Secret filming during the programme. Source: RTÉ

Asked why he didn’t just hang up the phone, McElvaney said that would mean the show wouldn’t air.

“There’d be no show, there’d be no show and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to show RTÉ up, the state broadcaster, for what they are.”

Two other councillors were secretly filmed during the programme agreeing to help the fake investment firm. They are Joe Queenan (Fianna Fáil) of Sligo County Council and John O’Donnell (independent) of Donegal County Council.

RTÉ Investigates Standards in Public Office airs tonight at 9:35pm.  

Read: “What’s in it for me?” – Explosive RTÉ documentary shows politicians seeking cash >

Read: Sean Conlan thinks Fine Gael is out to get him >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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