BARRY Cowen met with an unwelcome surprise when he attempted to canvass in Banagher last Saturday.
A group of 20 protesters against the standing down of Banagher Fire Station met the Fianna Fail General Election candidate and accompanied him on his canvass of the town.
Although not called for there was a Garda presence in the town during the event.
Tom Sutherland from the SOS-Banagher Group said when they learned that Cllr Cowen was in the town, a couple of members got together.
“There were about 15 or twenty of us,” explained Mr Sutherland who said they brandished banners saying “Beware no firestations no vote”. He said Fianna Fail and Fine Gael had closed the firestations and people wanted to make their frustrations heard.
He outlined it was a peaceful protest, where their protest was in the form of chants. “There was no violence towards him.”
Mr Sutherland said a special meeting is being held in Banahger tonight (Wednesday) at 8pm in the national school to make people aware about what exactly led to the firestation closure.
Cllr Cowen said while “people are entitled to protest,” and others canvassing for him in the area said people “were more than happy.”
“Some people are not happy and I am not happy playing a part myself. I sent out a letter prior to canvassing, explaining the reasons behind the standing down of the fire services.”
Cllr Cowen said many people had also rang him afterwards saying they were embarrassed by what had happened. He added that he felt sorry for the shop keepers, who while he was canvassing in their businesses, had protesters shouting outside.
Meanwhile Tullamore Fine Gael Councillor Tommy McKeigue has condemned the way in which Cllr Cowen was treated.”I was sad to hear democracy can’t prevail in the county. Everyone has the right to canvass.
“As long as Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have been the two main parties in the county we never had any trouble between one another. If mob rule starts setting in democracy will start to break down. We have to uphold democracy and stand up for it,” said Cllr McKeigue.
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