Bannon supporter accused of ‘dirty tricks’ as tensions rise in Longford-Westmeath

Tensions flared in the Creevaghbeg estate in Ballymahon on Monday evening (February 22 ) as Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Hogan accused a canvasser for Deputy James Bannon of removing his campaign leaflets from letterboxes in the area.

Gardaí were called to the scene after Cllr Hogan and his supporters confronted a person canvassing for the Fine Gael Deputy after they were allegedly seen with their pockets “bulging” with Sinn Féin leaflets removed from domestic letterboxes. Cllr Hogan added that the same canvasser was also seen to have election leaflets belonging to Labour TD Willie Penrose in his vehicle. No arrests were made on the evening in question.

On Tuesday morning Cllr Hogan released a statement via his Facebook page demanding an apology for the alleged incident and the return of his campaign material. In response, Deputy Bannon issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon: “I was not in the immediate vicinity, but I understand a member of my canvass team was reading a leaflet and immediately replaced it,” he said. “It was a simple misunderstanding. When a Garda car arrived after a period of time, I sat in voluntarily to clarify the situation.”

Cllr Hogan refuted Mr Bannon’s claims later that day, saying the deputy “was standing beside his canvasser for the duration” of the altercation. Cllr Hogan described the alleged removing of his campaign literature as “a dirty trick” and pledged to press charges against the canvasser if he did not receive an apology by 3pm on Tuesday (February 23 ).

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, Cllr Hogan revealed he did not receive the apology he was looking for or the return of his leaflets and has since made a formal statement to Gardaí. “”At about 3.30pm yesterday I made a statement at Ballymahon Garda Station,” he said. “I gave the man in question’s name to the Gardaí. I had met him earlier while out campaigning so I know exactly who he is.

“It is really unfortunate that it has come to this. I gave ample opportunity to have the matter resolved amicably, but the statement Mr Bannon issued a couple of days ago was full of lies and when the witnesses have their say in the coming days that will become clear.”

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