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Saturday 23 September 2017

Elderly man makes official complaint against TD Frank Feighan after elbowing incident

Frank Feighan during the incident as captured by RTE
Frank Feighan during the incident as captured by RTE

Anita McSorley

An official complaint has been made against TD Frank Feighan after a man was elbowed trying to speak to the Taoiseach.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was met by a small group of protesters in Roscommon on Friday  when he arrived to canvass with the party’s candidate in the Roscommon South Leitrim by-election.

John McDermott asked to speak with him when he was elbowed in the ribs several times by Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan, which was recorded by RTE.

Mr McDermott confirmed to Independent.ie this morning that an official complaint has been made to Gardai, saying he 'had no choice' after waiting 24 hours for an apology from Mr Feighan.

"I have made a formal complaint I had to go in and make a statement," he said. "Frank Feighan will be cautioned and then he will be asked if he wants to make a statement and then it will go to the superintendent.

"Frank has still made no contact with me and if he had rang me personally to apologise, I wouldn't have went ahead with the complaint. I gave him a time frame of 24 hours to come to me and he didn't. I had no choice.

"It wasn't a question that it was a stranger who he was assaulting. He knew it was me. He knew my voice. I don't know why. We totally differ on health issues but there was never any animosity."

He explained yesterday that he wanted to ask the Taoiseach why the Accident and Emergency unit in Roscommon Hospital had been closed, despite his promises in 2011 to keep it open.

A Garda spokesperon said they cannot comment on individual cases.

In a statement, Mr Feighan apologised to Mr McDermott and admitted he overreacted.

“Fine Gael members, families and their children had come to Roscommon Town to meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

“Assessing the situation when he arrived, I formed the opinion that the Taoiseach was going to be confronted in an aggressive and physical manner.

“In hindsight, I misread the situation and overreacted in a tense situation.

“I regret if any of actions of mine caused hurt to anybody especially the Hospital Action Committee candidate and former Roscommon senior county goalkeeper, John McDermott.”

A video of the incident  spread across social media over the weekend, sparking outrage among the public who have described Mr Feighan’s actions as “shameful” “embarrassing” and “disgraceful”.

This was the first time that Enda Kenny had visited the town in an official capacity since his pre-election visit in 2011 when he committed to the future of Roscommon hospital and it’s A&E unit, which was closed down by his government just over one year later.

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