TWO brothers who were defamed by the chairman of the Kilkenny Hunt, who referred to them as a "pair of paedophiles", have been awarded damages between them totalling €30,500 in the circuit court.
The defamation action was taken by Norman Daniels and Hubert Daniels, of Rathielty, Rathmoyle, Co Kilkenny, against Edward Norris, of Danesrath, Knocktopher, Co Kilkenny.
Judge Thomas Teehan, in his judgment at Kilkenny Circuit Court, said he accepted evidence that Mr Norris used the words "pair of paedophiles" when looking towards the brothers during a hunt on November 12, 2004.
Mr Norris told the court when evidence in the case was heard in December that he did say the brothers were "acting like a pair of paedophiles" when he met them during a meeting of the Kilkenny Hunt outside their land but didn't say they were paedophiles and didn't believe they were paedophiles.
The trial heard evidence from Mr Norris that parents were complaining to him about their children being recorded while taking part in the hunt.
Judge Teehan said in his ruling: "It is not an exaggeration to say that paedophiles are the most despised group in our society. This was so in 2004 and it is so today."
It was "gratifying", the judge said, that it was accepted by both sides that there was "absolutely no truth" to those words that were spoken by Mr Norris at the hunt in 2004, and he was satisfied that there "never was an attempt to photograph children, specifically".
The court heard the brothers had filmed the hunt whenever it passed near their land since 2000 on their solicitor's advice in case any damage was done.
The judge struck out a counter-claim lodged by Mr Norris for harassment.
He awarded compensatory damages to the Daniels brothers of €10,000 for defamation and exemplary damages of €20,000, because of the "conduct of the defendant in how this case was met".
There was also an award of €500 for assault.
In his closing submission yesterday, Shane English, counsel for the brothers, said the remarks were used "to provoke maximum hatred, contempt and ridicule" for his clients.
Johnny Walsh, defending, said the words used by his client were "inappropriate" and "shouldn't have been used" but had to be seen in the context of what was going on since 2000, when the plaintiffs started filming the hunt.