Saturday 20 December 2014

Bertie dig-out pal to pay defamed ex-worker €5,000

Ray Managh

Published 13/11/2012 | 05:00

Winthrop Engineering chief Barry English, Mr English’s former employee Liam Moloney, and Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins.

A DIG-out pal of Bertie Ahern told a TD over the phone that a company worker was a "Sinn Fein f****r, sympathiser and troublesome employee", a court heard.

Barry English was ordered to pay former Irish soldier Liam Moloney €5,000 for defamation of character after Mr English made the remarks on the telephone to Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins.

Mr English was one of a number of supporters who gave the former Taoiseach a "dig-out" at the time of his marriage breakdown.

He said he gave Mr Ahern IR£5,000 in cash as a result of a discussion in the Beaumont House pub in Dublin in September 1994. He was just 28 at the time and had met Mr Ahern just a handful of times.

Mr English is now 44 and CEO of Winthrop Engineering in Turnpike Business Park, Dublin, where former soldier Mr Moloney (63) worked as an electrician.

Mr Moloney, of Ballyhoura Heights, Kilfinane, Co Limerick, had been made redundant in August 2008 and had taken issue with the company through the Labour Court which recommended he be paid redundancy. When he had not been paid, he had gone to Mr Collins.

He was stunned that Mr English had said he was a "Sinn Fein f****r, sympathiser and troublesome" and had advised the TD to have nothing to do with him. He considered sympathiser to mean he supported the IRA.

Mr Collins said Mr Moloney had asked him to make representations about payment of the Labour Court recommendation to Mr English. He had written to him and later they had spoken on the phone.

"He was very aggressive and dismissive of my role in making representations as a public representative on behalf of Mr Moloney, and questioned my right to do so," he said.

"I would understand sympathiser to mean somebody who was sympathetic to the IRA and I would be very concerned about that. I reported the conversation to Mr Moloney," he said.

But Mr English said: "Times were tough in 2008 and many workers had been paid off. The country was going through horrendous trauma and politicians were not the most popular people at the time," he said.

Troublesome

"Here was this TD down in Limerick trying to interfere with my business.

"My attitude was: 'How dare you. You have no right to tell me what to do.' I gave him a piece of my mind.

"He hit a button with me that doesn't often get hit," Mr English said.

He said he did not agree he had called Mr Moloney a troublesome Sinn Fein f****r. He would consider someone going to a TD to write letters to be a "troublesome ex-employee" and that was how he described Mr Moloney.

Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, President of the Circuit Court, said Mr English, of Abbington, Malahide, Co Dublin, did not intend to offend Mr Moloney.

But he was angry and exceedingly annoyed and directed his anger at Mr Collins.

Irish Independent

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