Tuesday 10 December 2019

Election rivals involved in row over leaflets

James Bannon getting a lift off the Garda today, inset left, Paul Hogan, inset right, James Bannon
James Bannon getting a lift off the Garda today, inset left, Paul Hogan, inset right, James Bannon
James Bannon in the garda car today (Twitter)
Sinn Fein's Paul Hogan

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

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

Gardaí had to be called to a housing estate in Ballymahon, Co Longford this evening after a heated dispute between 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 his literature from post boxes in the Creevaghbeg estate.

The newcomer said the Fine Gael team arrived in the estate just as he was finishing and were spotted removing leaflets.

“I asked him [Mr Bannon] is this the sort of dirty tricks you running,” Mr Hogan. 

As a row developed it is alleged that a bundle of Labour leaflets were also spotted in a car linked to the Fine Gael canvass.

Mr Hogan said he decided to call gardaí after some of the Fine Gael team left the estate.

 “They came within five minutes. He [Mr Bannon] sat into the garda car and they brought him down to the station to charge his phone,” Mr Hogan said.

“I’ll give him until 3pm to make an apology and give back my literature or I’m going to press charges.”

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

“It’s the lowest of the low,” Mr Hogan said.

However, Mr Bannon has tried to play down the incident.

He said that he was not in the immediate vicinity when the incident developed.

“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,” he said.

Meanwhile, Labour Party minister Ann Phelan stormed out of a live debate on her local KCLR radio station last night.

Ms Phelan, the minister for rural affairs, left the discussion involving all 15 candidates in the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency, saying she was “fed up of the whole bloody lot of ye”.

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