Saturday 18 November 2017

Defamation action against FG's Lucinda Creighton may be heard later this year

Tim Healy

DEVELOPER Michael O'Flynn's defamation action against Fine Gael Minister of State Lucinda Creighton may get a High Court hearing date late this year.

The proceedings by the well-known Cork developer and Fine Gael donor, whose companies have had loans of about €1bn transferred to NAMA, were initiated in late July 2010 just days after Ms Creighton gave a speech entitled "Standards in Public Life and Accountability" to the MacGill Summer School in Co Donegal.

Mr O'Flynn, founder of O'Flynn Construction, alleges he was defamed in that speech of July 20, 2010, and in a follow-up interview with Ms Creighton broadcast on RTE Radio's News At One the same day.

He also alleges defamation against Ms Creighton in a follow-up Irish Times article on July 24, 2010, entitled: "Developer attended Creighton fundraiser - TD says she did not know of Commercial Court hearing".

Ms Creighton, Fine Gael TD for Dublin South East and Minister of State for European Affairs, has denied defamation.

The case was listed before Mr Justice Eamon De Valera when he was allocating hearing dates for cases to be heard by a jury.

Declan Doyle SC, for Mr O'Flynn, said his side wanted a hearing date but understood the defendant had a difficulty with a date in this court term.

Paul O'Higgins SC, for Ms Creighton, said his client would be out of the country on business for a time in early July, that business having been organised last November.

Counsel said the action related to three separate alleged defamations and was a very recent case which was likely to take four days.

Mr Justice De Valera said he only had limited dates available and those were in early July. Given the circumstances and that this was a very recent case, he would adjourn it to the next court list to fix dates in November.

The defendant will have to realise the case will have to go on at some stage, the judge said.

Mr O'Higgins said his client did appreciate that but she had commitments. Mr Doyle said the plaintiff was keenly aware of the defendant's commitments and did not want "to mess" with those.

The judge observed, given the nature of Ms Creighton's job, she was likely to find herself committed at very short notice and said he would put the case first in the next jury case call-over list.

The proceedings arise from a speech to the MacGill Summer School in which Ms Creighton said: "We cannot, on the one hand, condemn Fianna Fail for entertaining developers in the Galway tent, while on the other hand extend the biscuit tin for contributions from high-profile developers."

"We need a politics that is about serving the people of Ireland, not simply about replacing Fianna Fail," she also said. All money received by the party from developers involved with NAMA should be given back, she added.

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