Statement by Mr. Tom Enright, Chief Executive of Wexford County Council, following the publication of the Report of the result of an investigation hearing by the Standards in Public Office Commission held on 12th November 2021.
The Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) has today published a report of the result of its investigation into a complaint made against me by Karl Fitzpatrick who is a presenter on South East Radio.
The Commission has found that in sending two emails to South East Radio on 29th and 30th August 2019, I failed to maintain proper standards of integrity, conduct and concern for the public interest and breached the Code of Conduct for Local Authority Employees.
I am extremely disappointed with the Commission’s findings which, in my view, are flawed, and disproportionate. Accordingly I am currently exploring all available options including legal options and am consulting with my legal advisers in that regard.
To be clear, my sole motivation in the engagement with South East Radio was to get fair recognition for the hard work of Councillors, Council staff and others in attracting new business and employment to Wexford. That will continue to be my focus. I can categorically state that I acted at all times in good faith and in the interest of Wexford County Council.
I believe the findings have far reaching implications for all Senior Local Government officials when it comes to the need to protect the interests of a Public Authority by dealing robustly with service providers who have breached statutory regulations or are providing a poor service.
I sent these two e-mails to South East Radio, which are recounted in and the subject of the SIPO report, as I had been made aware of deliberate actions by a presenter on South East Radio against the Council and what I believed were breaches by South East Radio of the Broadcasting Act and South East Radio’s broadcasting contract with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. It can be seen clearly from the e-mails that I did not seek favourable treatment for either Wexford County Council or myself by South East Radio. I only sought fairness for the Council.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland later confirmed that South East Radio had indeed breached the Broadcasting Act and as a result it issued a Compliance Notice to South East Radio.
It should be noted that shortly after receipt of these e-mails South East Radio gave an undertaking to thoroughly investigate the concerns of the Council. As a result of that undertaking, the Council did not cease or diminish its commercial arrangements with South East Radio and continues to advertise with the radio station.
The SIPO Report has been forwarded to the Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council for consideration by the Council in accordance with the relevant legislation.
Chief Executive, Wexford County Council
7th January, 2022