Fine Gael candidate given lift by gardaí after argument over canvassing

Monday 22 February 2016 23.58
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It is understood a dispute occurred over an allegation that election leaflets had been removed from homes
It is understood a dispute occurred over an allegation that election leaflets had been removed from homes
Gardaí say no formal complaint has been made
Gardaí say no formal complaint has been made

James Bannon, a Fine Gael candidate in Longford-Westmeath, was this evening given a lift in a garda car following an incident involving his canvassers and Sinn Féin candidate Paul Hogan.

Gardaí say an argument took place between Fine Gael supporters and supporters of Mr Hogan after they ran into each while canvassing in the Creevaghbeg estate area in Ballymahon, Co Longford.

Mr Hogan said he saw an unidentified person, who was canvassing for Mr Bannon, taking Sinn Féin leaflets from letter boxes in the estate after 4pm.

He said he confronted the person, who then ran away.

Mr Hogan added that he will make a formal complaint to gardaí about the behaviour of the Fine Gael canvasser unless he receives an apology and has his election material returned to him by 3pm tomorrow.

He is not making any allegation against Mr Bannon.

Mr Bannon has refuted the allegations against the member of his campaign team.

Speaking to the Longford Leader, he said he was not in the immediate vicinity when the incident occurred.

He said he understood "a member of my campaign team was reading a leaflet and immediately replaced it", adding that it was "a simple misunderstanding".

The outgoing TD added that when gardaí arrived he "sat in to the patrol car voluntarily to clarify the situation".

Earlier, gardaí said no formal complaint had been made to them by anyone but they gave Mr Bannon a lift from the scene in a garda car.

No arrests were made.