Saturday 18 November 2017

Fine Gael councillor viciously attacked on election trail

Councillor Humphrey Deegan attacked in Clonakilty
Councillor Humphrey Deegan attacked in Clonakilty

Daniel McConnell Group Political Correspondent

A Fine Gael councillor was viciously assaulted while out on the canvass in Co Cork on Friday, the Sunday Independent has learnt.

Gardai are now investigating what is the first reported violent incident of this election campaign. Cllr Humphrey Deegan was canvassing for his party colleague John O'Sullivan in Clonakility, west Cork, when the incident happened at 4.30pm.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Deegan said he and other canvassers were calling at houses on Connolly Street, Clonakility, when a man got out of a car and began launching obscenities at them.

As he approached the canvassers, the Fine Gael team were taken aback at the vulgar nature of the abuse being thrown at them, which was laden with obscenities.

"The level of abuse being thrown at me was appalling. He calling me a Blueshirt bastard and a liar," he said. "He said we have ruined the country and that Sinn Fein were going to wipe us out," he added.

"I responded by saying I am not a bastard, I am not a liar. I said I am out canvassing and you have no right to call me those things," he said.

Matters escalated when the attacker knocked leaflets out of Cllr Deegan's hands, who attempted to restrain his assailant. "I tried to restrain him but he managed to get one hand up and managed to have a right go at my face, he made a mess of it really," he added.

Mr Deegan and his fellow canvassers were shocked by the dramatic nature of the assault and gardai were called to the scene. "He was screaming that he was calling the gardai. I said, well that saves me calling them."

Cllr Deegan was then brought to the local station and then was sent to a local doctor to assess his injuries.

No arrests were made but full statements are to be taken by gardai in the coming days from those involved and witnesses. "I will make a formal statement to Gardai on Sunday," Cllr Deegan said.

"I'm okay, I'm not too badly shaken, my face is just a bit of a mess. The gardai just told me to go to the doctor just to be on the safe side. But I won't be stopped from engaging in the democratic process by this attempt at intimidation," he added.

The incident in Clonakility coincided with a confrontation in Limerick between Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and a group of anti-austerity protesters.

Around 80 protesters for the Anti-Austerity Alliance, and others, surrounded Mr Kenny and Mr Noonan as they went on an electioneering walkabout in the Treaty City.

Protesters called Mr Noonan a "f*****g traitor" for his austerity Budgets. The minister, visibly annoyed, responded to one protester: "Go away. We'll see how much votes you get." Fine Gael supporters and party handlers placed opened umbrellas between Mr Noonan and protesters who confronted him standing outside McDonald's on Cruises Street. Father-of-five Tony Hogan, from Ardnacrusha, Co Clare, told the minister he had "some cheek" telling him to "go away".

Sunday Independent

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