Sunday 25 September 2016

I was attacked for being a TD, Conlan claims

Alleged bar assault was an 'attack on democracy'

Philip Ryan and David Conachy

Published 06/09/2015 | 02:30

Sean Conlon TD pictured leaving the carpark at the rear of the Employment Appeals Tribunal.
24/10/14
Pic Frank Mc Grath
Sean Conlon TD pictured leaving the carpark at the rear of the Employment Appeals Tribunal. 24/10/14 Pic Frank Mc Grath

Fine Gael TD Sean Conlan has claimed he was assaulted during a fracas in a bar he owns because he was a member of Government.

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Mr Conlan was arrested and questioned by gardai last week over the incident, which resulted in another man receiving medical treatment for an injury resulting from an alleged glassing. No one else has so far been arrested.

In a statement to the Sunday Independent, the under-fire TD said the alleged assault was an "attack on democracy" and claimed he also received medical attention after the incident.

"A media storm has been generated over an incident which occurred in my family bar in Ballybay (Monaghan) on Sunday week last. For the purposes of clarity I wish to make it known that I was in my family bar when an individual came into the bar... and assaulted me," he said.

He added: "I was assaulted because of my position as a TD. This is a direct attack on democracy. I sustained injury as a result of the attack and was referred for further investigation and MRI examination."

Mr Conlan also took issue with reports that gardai arrested him by appointment and instead insisted he was arrested when he came to the station to make a complaint about the alleged assault.

"I reported the assault to gardai the following day. I made arrangements to attend to make a formal statement of complaint. I was not aware that I was going to be arrested and I was not arrested by appointment as stated by the Garda press office," he said.

The latest controversy involving the embattled TD has sent shockwaves through Fine Gael's grassroots organisation in Monaghan.

Senior figures from the constituency met with Fine Gael secretary general Tom Curran last week to ask for Mr Conlan to be taken off the ticket ahead of a selection convention due to take place on Tuesday.

As revealed last week by the Sunday Independent, sections of Mr Conlan's local support base have grown tired of reading about him in the newspapers.

They also believe Mr Conlan is not interacting with his local support base as much as he should.

Fine Gael headquarters decided to leave Mr Conlan on the ticket as it was believed removing a sitting TD would be seen as setting a bad precedent. Arts Minister Heather Humphreys and Cavan-based TD Joe O'Reilly are also on the ticket. A directive may be sent down on the night of the convention to run two candidates in the constituency.

Mr Conlan has rarely been out of the headlines since he attacked Ms Humphrey and Taoiseach Enda Kenny over their handling of the John McNulty Seanad election controversy.

The deputy, who hired his fiancée Sarah Comiskey as his taxpayer-funded secretarial assistant, went on RTE Six One News to say the cronyism row was damaging Fine Gael.

The Irish Independent later revealed a UK antiques dealer wrote to Mr Kenny when she had difficulty contacting Mr Conlan about a €10,000 diamond ring she believed he intended to buy from her.

The ring was later returned and both parties said they were happy with the outcome.

Mr Conlan was again in the news when his former secretarial assistant Cathy Shevlin was awarded €25,000 by an Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) amid claims she was bullied and harassed by her employer.

Ms Shevlin claimed she was forced to take stress- related sick leave following a breakdown in communications between herself and her employer's fiancée.

Mr Conlan claimed he was forced to sack his former employee because she undermined him and gave sensitive polling information to his rivals.

Last week, the deputy's appeal of this decision was before Monaghan Circuit Court's county register but the case was adjourned.

Sunday Independent

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