Thursday 14 December 2017

Irish woman at centre of US political storm: Ohio governor candidate Ed FitzGerald insists nothing inappropriate happened in car

Joanne Grehan
Photo: Peter Houlihan
Joanne Grehan Photo: Peter Houlihan
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

The Irish woman embroiled in the centre of an election campaign in the United States said she is outraged and disgusted to be drawn in to a controversy fabricated with political motivation.

Ed FitzGerald’s campaign for Democratic governor in Ohio has been plagued with questions over why he was in a parked car with businesswoman Joanne Grehan in the early hours of the morning almost two years ago.

The married former FBI agent maintains he was a designated driver for a delegation led by Taoiseach Enda Kenny when and he pulled over to get his bearings and check directions when separated from another vehicle.

Audio of a phonecall to police by electrician Kasey Hager, who believed it looked “a little fishy”, has been circulated on the internet. Police attended the scene at 4.30am on October 13, 2012, said “everything is fine”, according to Mr FitzGerald who has insisted nothing inappropriate was going on.

"It didn't even amount to a situation that resulted in a traffic ticket," Mr FitzGerald said. "Not even a minor traffic ticket.”

A statement released by the FitzGerald campaign Ms Grehan, chief executive of Mayo County Enterprise Board, and Mayo County Council manager Peter Hynes, who was also part of the delegation.

They said they are deeply shocked and extremely saddened to learn that “an effort is being made to construe an innocuous incident as something completely different”.

“The facts of the situation are actually very simple,” they said, confirming Mr FitzGerald’s side of events.

“After being separated from their party, Joanne and Ed stopped the car to map the actual route to the hotel. The vehicle was approached by a police patrol car which stopped, checked that all was in order and then left. Ed and Joanne then continued on to the hotel where Ed dropped her off.

“We are outraged and disgusted to find our names being drawn into what is clearly a controversy fabricated with political motivation and we confirm that there is absolutely no basis for the unfounded speculation and nasty innuendo which surrounds reporting of this incident.”

Mr FitzGerald accused campaigners of his Republican counter-part of launching a personal smear against his family and their friends in Ireland.

“We are confident that this attack will be exposed for what it is – untrue and opportunistic – and, hope that we can quickly move onto the discussion of what is best for Ohio’s families,” said Mr FitzGerald and his wife Shannon added.

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