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Fine Gael TD's involvement in scuffle was "unacceptable" and "embarrassing"... says FG candidate

Frank Feighan says he is taking legal advice over the incident, after a complaint was made to gardaí.

scuffle 2 Source: RTE.ie

THE FINE GAEL candidate in the Roscommon-South Leitrim by-election has said she wants to draw a line under the controversy surrounding the scuffle that broke out on Friday between her party colleague, Frank Feighan, and one of her rival election hopefuls.

The incident happened as Taoiseach Enda Kenny was arriving in Roscommon Town on Friday afternoon to canvass with Maura Hopkins.

Feighan, currently the only sitting Fine Gael TD for the constituency, was filmed by RTÉ News elbowing the Roscommon Hospital Action Committee candidate, John McDermott, as he approached the Taoiseach’s car on Main Street.

McDermott made a complaint to gardaí about the incident on Saturday night, after Feighan released a statement saying he regretted “if any actions of mine caused hurt to anybody”. And while gardaí say they never comment publicly on any specific incident, they have confirmed they’re investigating a minor assault.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie at Roscommon Racecourse this afternoon, Hopkins said Feighan’s actions were inappropriate.

“To be honest people are entitled to peacefully protest, and as Deputy Feighan said he feels he misread the situation and it was unacceptable behaviour… And it was embarrassing.

It is certainly not the type of politics that I stand for and I wasn’t involved in it.

Hopkins said she wanted to switch the focus onto issues that directly affect people in the area, and that she intended to work to improve air and ground ambulance cover.

I don’t want a political debate about difficulties between John McDermott and Deputy Feighan.

Maura Hopkins with junior minister Tom Hayes at the races today [TheJournal.ie/Daragh Brophy]

Also speaking at the Roscommon races this afternoon, McDermott rejected any suggestions that he may be exploiting the situation to maximise press coverage.

“I’m not a politician, I’m a community person,” he insisted. “But what happened happened.”

McDermott accused Feighan of issuing a “luke-warm” apology to the media rather than contacting him directly.

If he comes back to me and rings me and actually apologises and puts it into the media that I didn’t instigate anything and that the Hospital Action Committee are not actually aggressive, I would withdraw the statement there and then.

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John McDermott meets well-wishers at the races. [Daragh Brophy/TheJournal.ie]

When contacted by this website, Feighan said he would be making no further comment on the matter, and that — as it had been reported to the gardaí — he was now seeking legal advice.

He added:

I have the right to defend myself. I have the right to defend the Taoiseach.

Feighan also questioned why McDermott had been standing where he was, before the incident happened. He said he had been subjected to years of harassment by the action committee group.

The TD also pointed out that €20 million was currently being invested to upgrade facilities at Roscommon County Hospital.

Here is a list of all the candidates running in the Roscommon South Leitrim by-election. 

Related: Official complaint made to gardaí over Frank Feighan elbow scuffle

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About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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