Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Dáil that there was no place in Irish public life for the kind of behaviour by councillors highlighted last night on a programme by RTÉ Investigations Unit.

Mr Kenny said it is unacceptable for any public representative to use their position for any personal gain.

He said public representatives are required to comply fully with the codes of conduct governing the performance of their duties and new, strengthened anti-corruption laws would come before the Cabinet next week.

He told Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams that the legislation would provide for a Public Service Commissioner with stronger powers.

Mr Adams queried its independence but the Taoiseach insisted the new body would be fully independent from the Government.

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy has a motion proposing an Anti-Corruption Agency up for debate tonight.  

She wanted to know whether it would be accepted or amended by the Government as it was, she claimed, the kind of body favoured by governments where corruption had been identified.   

Mr Kenny listed for her all the pieces of legislation in the area which the Government had introduced.

Earlier in the Seanad Independent Senator David Norris said he was horrified by the revelations but criticised RTÉ for what he said was entrapping people and inviting them to engage in criminal activity,  a practice he described as disgraceful.

Minister compares lobbying report to Killinaskully

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has described the programme last night on standards in public office as "the type of thing you'd see in a programme like Killinaskully".

He said it was disgraceful and said he hoped gardaí would investigate the matter.

Mr Coveney said the vast majority of councillors are hard-working people but what was seen last night would make people very angry.

He was speaking after a Fianna Fáil councillor resigned from the party after being filmed offering to act as an intermediary for a wind farm company in return for an investment in a business he was planning.

A spokesman for Fianna Fáil last night said the party accepted the resignation of Sligo councillor Joe Queenan last night.

The resignation was confirmed by the party just minutes after the end of the programme on political lobbying and ethics.

The programme featured a fictitious company which was supposed to be developing a wind farm, and was looking for assistance with the planning process from local politicians.

Mr Queenan was one of three politicians who offered to lobby on behalf of the company in exchange for money or the promise of a loan or an investment in a private business.

Fianna Fáil said some of the behaviour displayed in the programme was shocking and completely unacceptable, and said clear breaches of the law need to be investigated by gardaí.

Fine Gael said the revelations in the programme were shocking and go against the definition and spirit of public service.

Mr Coveney this morning said he did not "want to get into personalities" but was happy that Hugh McElvaney did not represent Fine Gael any more. 

Mr McElvaney, a four-time mayor of Monaghan, sought payment when contacted by an undercover reporter.

"What's in it for me?" he asked.

Mr McElvaney came to the attention of the RTÉ Investigations Unit because of major gaps in his declaration of interests: an undeclared property portfolio and a directorship of a consultancy firm.

The then-Fine Gael councillor, who recently resigned from the party, said: "Are you going to pay me by the hour or the job?"

When told that the undercover reporter would be visiting Ireland in the next couple of weeks, he asked: "And you will have plenty of sterling with you?"

In a statement this evening Sligo County Council said "The Council's Ethics Registrar is presently conducting a review in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act and the Code of Conduct for Councillors".

Another Fine Gael politician, Co Galway councillor Tom McHugh, has apologised for his failure to declare all of his assets.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O'Rourke, Mr McHugh attributed it to human error, adding that he does not condone anyone who uses public office for "self preservation".

Mr McHugh said the declaration process and form should be simplified considerably.

"There are a whole number of sections and a whole number of pages associated with it,” said Mr McHugh. "The questions that I've been asked, you're saying, well I've answered that question [already]. I think it could be simplified considerably."

Also speaking on the programme, President of the Association of Irish Local Government, Colm Brophy, said the system for the declaration of assets and business interests for public representatives needs to be much more robust and transparent.

Donegal County Council, meanwhile, has said that the matters raised in the RTÉ Investigations Unit programme over councillor John O'Donnell were being "examined as an issue of urgency and priority" by the Ethics Registrar in the Council.

A meeting of Donegal County Councillors representing the area around Donegal town this evening unanimously passed a motion calling on councillor John O'Donnell to resign from the council following revelations about him by an RTÉ Investigations Unit programme.

Councillor O'Donnell who represents the district around Letterkenny denies any wrong doing. He was shown on last night's programme seeming to discuss how he could help a fictitous company in return for personal gain. 

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams last night said the Taoiseach and the Government have serious questions to answer as they have acted to prevent transparency in the planning process.

The party called on the Government to introduce robust anti-corruption legislation and an independent planning regulator.

Howlin says revelations 'shocking'

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said that rogue politicians need to be exposed and run out of public life.

Mr Howlin said the revelations in last the RTÉ report were shocking to a lot of people and that the vast majority of councillors feel undermined by it.

He said that he has been working on reforms over the past five years in relation to this area.

He added that commercial conflicts of interest must be registered and that all those required must understand that registration of their interests is real, required and that there are sanctions for not declaring

He also said he is gratified that Labour Party members have not been involved in this behaviour so far.

SIPO says new legislation needed

An assistant principal officer at the Standards in Public Office Commission has said SIPO has been looking for new comprehensive legislation that would allow it to initiate investigations without a prior complaint being made.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Brian McKevitt said that the new legislation, which SIPO has been looking for for nearly ten years, would cover the entire public service, both elected representatives and employees.

Currently, the system is split between a number of different authorities.

Mr Keane said the commission has a role in relation to ministers, ministers of state and the Ceann Comhairle.

Other Oireachtas members are dealt with by committees on members’ interests, who initiate investigations on the back of complaints from the Clerk of the Dáil.

In relation to councillors, there is separate legislation under the Local Government Act, which the commission has said must be used before it can look at a case.

Mr Keane said, in practice, SIPO would have to wait for a complaint to be made before an investigation could be initiated, despite what appears in the media.

He said there is new legislation in draft form, but that it will not be introduced before the forthcoming general election.

Councillor to file complaint with Data Protection Commissioner

In a lengthy statement issued this afternoon Councillor John O'Donnell said RTÉ had failed in its statutory obligation to provide a balanced report and that the broadcaster had failed to take into account his pre-broadcast press release yesterday "with a view to damaging my reputation and creating sensational viewing".

Mr O’Donnell said he did offer to assist the fictional company and that this is a matter of public record, but said references in the programme to dealing with the matter on a strictly confidential basis were taken out of context.

He said he is filing a complaint with the Data Protection Commissioner because "RTE have deliberately refused" to provide him with a full copy of the footage and the audio recording, which he has requested.