Cowen's brother sneaks in back door to dodge protest
Published 23/02/2011 | 05:00
THE Taoiseach's brother Barry Cowen had to sneak in through the back door to avoid angry protesters outside a council meeting.
He was followed around by some of the protesters later that evening while canvassing in Daingean, Co Offaly.
Mr Cowen, who is hoping to retain the seat for Fianna Fail held by his brother since 1984, has been targeted by protesters due to the closure of three of the eight fire stations in Offaly, Daingean, Kilcormac and Banagher.
He was forced to abandon his canvassing in Banagher a week ago when protesters from the 'Save Our Stations -- Banagher Group' followed him around the streets of the scenic town chanting slogans.
Last Monday, the group held a protest outside the headquarters of Offaly County Council.
Mr Cowen was tipped off by a party colleague about their presence and was smuggled in the back door.
The three fire stations were shut down last year as Offaly County Council attempted to balance its budget. The move was supported by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael councillors, including Mr Cowen.
There are still fire stations in Mr Cowen's home town of Clara, as well as Tullamore, Edenderry, Birr and Ferbane.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen has been out to canvass for his brother Barry and a local party source said he was getting a good reaction from voters.
Fianna Fail is under pressure to hold on to its three seats in the five-seater constituency following Taoiseach Brian Cowen's decision to quit politics.
A Fianna Fail election poster with photos of Mr Cowen and the other two FF candidates, John Moloney and Sean Fleming, was set alight last week.
The local Fianna Fail source claimed the protests were being "ramped up" by the presence of Sinn Fein supporters.
Sinn Fein's Laois-Offaly election candidate, councillor Brian Stanley, confirmed that his party's supporters had taken part in the fire station protest outside Offaly County Council's headquarters last Monday.
But he said that Sinn Fein did not support the holding of protests while Mr Cowen was canvassing.
Neither Mr Cowen nor the 'Save our Stations' group could be contacted for comment.