Saturday 20 January 2018

Battle of Ballymahon: Gardai called to dispute between candidates following alleged leaflet theft

James Bannon in the garda car today (Twitter)
James Bannon in the garda car today (Twitter)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A Sinn Féin candidate has demanded an apology by 3pm today from a sitting TD or he will press charges against a canvasser for the alleged theft of election leaflets.

Gardaí were called to a housing estate in Ballymahon, Co Longford last night after a heated dispute between Sinn Féin's Paul Hogan and Fine Gael's James Bannon.

Mr Hogan told the Irish Independent he has five witnesses who saw someone they believed to be a canvasser for the TD remove the Sinn Féiner's literature from post boxes in the Creevaghbeg estate.

He said the FG team arrived in the estate just as he was finishing and claimed that they were spotted removing leaflets.

"I asked him (Mr Bannon), 'Is this the sort of dirty tricks you are running?'" said Mr Hogan.

As a row developed, it is alleged that a bundle of Labour leaflets were also spotted in a car linked to the FG canvass. Mr Hogan called the gardaí.

"They (the gardaí) came within five minutes. He (Mr Bannon) sat into the garda car and they brought him down to the station," Mr Hogan said. "I'll give him until 3pm to make an apology and give back my literature or I'll press charges."

He said gardaí believed it would be possible to bring charges under the Electoral Act.

However, Mr Bannon has tried to play down the incident and said he was not in the immediate vicinity when the incident developed.

He said: "I understand a member of my canvass team was reading a leaflet and immediately replaced it. It was a simple misunderstanding. When a garda car arrived after a period of time, I sat in voluntarily to clarify the situation."

Meanwhile, Labour minister Ann Phelan stormed out of a live debate on her local KCLR radio station last night involving all 15 candidates in the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency, saying she was "fed up of the whole bloody lot of ye".

Irish Independent

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