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Candidate hit by a 'grade 1' elbow in scuffle with FG TD

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Frank Feighan (right) and John McDermott. Picture: RTE

Frank Feighan (right) and John McDermott. Picture: RTE

Frank Feighan (right) and John McDermott. Picture: RTE

Frank Feighan (right) and John McDermott. Picture: RTE

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Frank Feighan (right) and John McDermott. Picture: RTE

Independent Roscommon by-election candidate John McDermott says Fine Gael TD Frank Feighen gave him a "grade 1" elbow, during their altercation on Friday.

Mr McDermott, who is involved in the local action group which opposed the closure of the Accident and Emergency department at Roscommon Hospital, gave a formal statement to Gardai about the incident on Saturday night.

The incident occurred as Taoiseach Enda Kenny's car arrived in the town to canvass with his party's candidate, Maria Hopkins, and a number of protesters approached the vehicle.

"I have had a few elbows in my time, but that was a grade 1 one," Mr McDermott told the Irish Independent last night.

"I am a bit sore in the stomach, and the Gardai said I should see a GP to make sure, and I probably will. But he elbowed me with force. It was a forceful attack," he said.

Mr McDermott said he suffered another blow on his back from an unidentified person, which was not visible on the RTE footage.

He also accused Mr Feighen of making a "half-hearted media apology".

"He hasn't contacted me, he never contacted me. Had he done so then I would have forgotten all about it. But he went on local radio accusing me of attacking him," Mr McDermott said.

Mr McDermot confirmed that he gave his statement to Garda at 7pm on Saturday night and Feighen is to be interviewed by officers, who will decide whether charges are to be brought.

"Frank knows me and that I would never be violent. I have met the Taoiseach before over this issue and there was no problem," he said.

Speaking on RTE Radio this morning, Mr McDermott said he would withdraw his garda complaint - if Mr Feighen made a "genuine" apology.

Mr Feighen yesterday restated his regret as to what happened but refused to offer an outright apology to Mr McDermott.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Feighen says he feared the Taoiseach was going to be confronted "in an aggressive and physical manner". He said John McDermott "knows where I am if he wants" his apology.

Mr Feighen was strident in his refusal to apologise, saying this is a politically motivated row.

"The hospital action group is a political movement and they want to keep this going. This is what this is about. I have been a lone voice, the hospital is safer now," he said .

Mr Feighen came under strong pressure after the Government decided to close the A&E department in Roscommon despite strong political opposition.

Irish Independent