Bannon and Kelly exchange words at Granard JPC

There was more than a tinge of animosity at last week’s Granard Town Council meeting as Fine Gael TD James Bannon was asked whether his presence at the meeting was because of a funeral.

There was more than a tinge of animosity at last week’s Granard Town Council meeting as Fine Gael TD James Bannon was asked whether his presence at the meeting was because of a funeral.

The Government backbencher was a noticeable spectator as elected members from the north Longford town assembled for its quarterly Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting last Tuesday evening.

And it was precisely the Legan politician’s presence which caused a short and equally brusque exchange between Mr Bannon and Independent Cllr Eddie Kelly.

The long serving representative smiled to himself quietly as Mr Bannon took his seat at the back of the chamber before remarking: “There must be a funeral on James.”

As other members looked on in quiet amazement, Mr Bannon paused for a moment as he replied: “You can be very smart Eddie.”

The former Co Cllr then asked for future JPC meetings to be re-scheduled at a later time as the Dail sits on Tuesdays.

It was a request which was later endorsed by elected members who agreed to stage the committee’s October meeting at the slightly later time of 8pm.

Speaking a couple of days after the meeting to the Leader earlier this week, Mr Bannon said he hadn’t let the remark bother him.

“That’s Eddie (Cllr Kelly) for you,” he replied. “But I didn’t let him away with it.”

Giving his own reaction, Cllr Kelly said he didn’t mean anything by the outburst, indicating the statement had been a ‘tongue in cheek’ gesture.

Seperately, Mr Bannon made a plea for Garda bosses to ensure the long term survival of Ardagh Garda Station.

He said locals remained “extremely anxious” for the retention of a full time garda presence given the village’s huge catchment area.