Friday 23 June 2017

Carey quits 'Times' after report furore

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

FORMER Esat Telecom employee Sarah Carey has resigned as a columnist from 'The Irish Times' in the wake of the publication of the final report of the Moriarty Tribunal.

Ms Carey, a married mother of two, said that following a meeting with editor Geraldine Kennedy yesterday, it was made clear to her that she had "no choice" but to resign.

Ms Carey was criticised in the report of the Moriarty Tribunal for leaking documents to a Sunday newspaper detailing the donations businessman Denis O'Brien had made to political parties from 1994.

Ms Carey defended the leak and her support for Mr O'Brien on RTE's 'Prime Time' on Monday, which led to a series of letters to the editor in 'The Irish Times' complaining about Ms Carey's tenure in light of the report.

Eight years ago, Ms Carey provided Stephen Collins, now political editor of 'The Irish Times' -- then political editor of the 'Sunday Tribune' -- with the donations data, an act she described as "political".

In 2004, when queried by the Moriarty Tribunal about the leak, Ms Carey was warned that she could face paying her own legal costs and that of the tribunal.

The tribunal had obtained sworn statements from 15 civil servants who worked for the inquiry to prove that the inquiry was not responsible for the leak.

Ms Carey, in a statement released last night, said it was important to reiterate that she did not lie under oath to the tribunal.

"Indeed, when I came to give evidence under oath at the tribunal, I told the whole truth about the leak and denial," said the writer and broadcaster, who has also stepped down from her role as interim presenter of TV3's 'Midweek' programme.

'Irresponsible'

"All of this was known to 'The Irish Times' -- indeed had been reported in that paper by Colm Keena on Thursday, January 22, 2004, four years before they hired me as a columnist.

"When discussing my impending appointment, the editor made it clear she had no problem with my past involvement with Denis O'Brien, and would be happy for me to write about the tribunal, as long as I clearly stated, at the beginning of any column, that I had worked with O'Brien and appeared at the tribunal. This I did."

In its wide-ranging report, the Moriarty Tribunal found that the leaking of confidential information by Ms Carey was "irresponsible and not remotely justified".

It said that the leak to the media in relation to political contributions by Mr O'Brien's companies caused distress, inconvenience and annoyance to a large number of persons.

Ms Carey joined Esat Telecom as marketing co-ordinator in January 1995, shortly after leaving university. She reported directly to Mr O'Brien on matters including media and publicity aspects of his bid for a mobile phone licence, the report said.

Last night, TV3 said it hoped to work with the broadcaster again.

"We understand Sarah's decision and we thank her for the work that she has done for TV3," said a spokesper-son. "We look forward at some stage to working with Sarah again."

Separately, leading Dublin law firm LK Shields has "utterly rejected" any inferences that Mr Justice Moriarty drew in his report about the conduct of the firm.

In a statement last night, the firm said that it rejected any inference that it misrepresented any matter related to the position of its clients or that it improperly contributed to any delay incurred in the tribunal process.

Irish Independent

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