Saturday 16 December 2017

TD Frank Feighan may face Garda probe as man elbowed in front of Taoiseach considers assault complaint

Frank Feighan during the incident as captured by RTE
Frank Feighan during the incident as captured by RTE

Anita McSorley

An elderly man who claims he was assaulted by a Fine Gael TD yesterday afternoon because he tried to speak to the Taoiseach is considering making a report to the Gardai.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was met by a small group of protestors in Roscommon yesterday when he arrived to canvass with the party’s candidate in the Roscommon South Leitrim by-election.

When the hospital action candidate in the by-election, John McDermott, tried to speak with him, he was elbowed in the ribs several times by Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan.

Mr McDermott told that he wanted to ask the Taoiseach why the Accident and Emergency unit in Roscommon Hospital had been closed, despite his promises in 2011 to keep it open.

“Any citizen should be entitled to ask any politician what is happening.

“Enda Kenny was arriving for the first time in three and a half years since he made a commitment to A&E services in Roscommon and I went up to his car to ask him what he’d like to say to the people of Roscommon.

“Frank Feighan TD then pushed in to me and gave me about four or five elbows into my stomach.

“It was totally unprovoked and I got a serious shock. I have no idea why he did it.

“I’d have had no problem with it if they’d have ushered me away but this was an attack.

“I’ve been in touch with the Gardai. I’m going to review the TV footage tonight and then we’ll decide whether or not to make an assault complaint,” he said.

McDermott said that he has yet to receive an apology.

“It’s been 24 hours now and Mr Feighan has made no contact with me.

“If he did apologise I would have to think about whether to accept it or not. What happened there, that kind of attack wouldn’t happen on a rugby pitch,” he added.

Mr Feighan told that he has no plans to contact Mr McDermott directly.

In a statement, Mr Feighan apologised to Mr McDermott and admitted he overreacted.

“Fine Gael members, families and their children had come to Roscommon Town to meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

“Assessing the situation when he arrived, I formed the opinion that the Taoiseach was going to be confronted in an aggressive and physical manner.

“In hindsight, I misread the situation and overreacted in a tense situation.

“I regret if any of actions of mine caused hurt to anybody especially the Hospital Action Committee candidate and former Roscommon senior county goalkeeper, John McDermott.”

A video of the incident has spread across social media today, sparking outrage among the public who have described Mr Feighan’s actions as “shameful” “embarrassing” and “disgraceful”.

This was the first time that Enda Kenny had visited the town in an official capacity since his pre-election visit in 2011 when he committed to the future of Roscommon hospital and it’s A&E unit, which was closed down by his government just over one year later.

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