Standards In Public Office Investigation Finds Against Chief Executive of Wexford County Council

photo by Jonathan Looby

The Standards in Public Office Commission has found the Chief Executive of Wexford County Council contravened the Local Government Act. The Commission found against Mr. Tom Enright in respect of all three of the alleged contraventions before it.

The Standards in Public Office Commission published its report this afternoon, following an investigation hearing conducted on the 12th of November last year.

The hearing followed a complaint, which was made by independent producer Karl Fitzpatrick.

The Commission’s report has found the Chief Executive of Wexford County Council Mr. Tom Enright contravened the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 and 2001 and part 15 of the Local Government Act 2001.

The investigation hearing considered evidence in the form of documents, statements and recordings. The alleged contraventions centre on emails Mr. Enright sent to the management of South East Radio on the 29th and 30th of August 2019.

Mr. Enright felt content broadcast by South East Radio – on the Morning Mix in March 2019 and Business Matters in August 2019 – was “biased, unprofessional and unfair to Wexford County Council”

In the emails to the radio station Mr. Enright said he was “ceasing Wexford County Council’s commercial relationship” as the “council could not continue to support a radio station which behaved in this manner”. He said the Council’s “patience had run out” in terms of the broadcasters response.

Standards in Public Office found Mr. Enright contravened the Local Government Act and failed to maintain proper standards of integrity, conduct and concern for the public interest. The report continued, Mr. Enright has a right and an obligation to defend the reputation of the Council and his own reputation, but a person in his position must react in a proportionate and level- headed manner.

The Commission found the content, tone, style and language of the emails were not appropriate and amounted to an over reaction on Mr. Enright’s part. The Commission found it fell below what is expected of someone in his position.

The report says Mr. Enright misused the Council’s position, “in effect throwing around the weight of the council’s purse” by putting pressure on the radio station to alter its broadcasting practices.

The Commission said “there is no suggestion of corruption or deception in Mr. Enright’s conduct”. However, it said the manner in which he contacted the radio station was “disproportionate and inappropriate” and lacking in courtesy and respect thereby “bringing disrepute upon his position and the Council”.

It concluded that all three contraventions were “serious and were committed recklessly” with Mr. Enright “not acting in good faith and failing to maintain proper standards of integrity”.

Meanwhile in a statement, released by Mr. Enright, following the publication of the Commissions report he said he is “extremely disappointed by the Commission’s findings”.  Mr. Enright says he “is exploring all options including legal options and is consulting with his legal advisers”

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