Thursday 22 August 2019

Fine Gael Senator sued publisher to 'protect family name'

Paudie Coffey: Concerned about “good standing” of the family name. Photo: Collins Courts
Paudie Coffey: Concerned about “good standing” of the family name. Photo: Collins Courts

Philip Ryan and Tim Healy

Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffey said he took a defamation case against a local newspaper which likened him to a highwayman because he wanted to "protect his family name".

The senator's comments came after he settled a High Court action against the owners of the 'Kilkenny People' which printed comments made by Mr Coffey's party colleague, Minister of State John Paul Phelan.

The article referred to a press release which called the senator 'Coffey the Robber' in reference to a Waterford-based 18th century highwayman and accused him of trying to "rob" a section of south Kilkenny for electoral purposes.

In a statement, the Waterford politician's solicitor Georgina Robinson said: "Senator Coffey took this case to protect his family name as he was always very conscious of the good name and reputation of all his family and the good standing the Coffey name has in his community and beyond."

She said Mr Coffey was remembering his father Pat, mother Eileen and sister Ita, who have all passed away, when the settlement was reached.

The solicitor also said Mr Coffey welcomed the fact Iconic Newspapers, which owns the 'Kilkenny People', issued a statement saying it regrets any upset caused to him and his family due to the article published in January 2016.

Last December, a jury was discharged when it failed to reach a verdict in the case after deliberating for 11 hours over two days.

After the jury was discharged, the case was put back into the list to fix dates while the issue of the costs of the 13-day trial was to be dealt with separately.

When this costs matter came before Mr Justice Bernard Barton yesterday, Richard Kean SC, for Mr Coffey, told the judge he was "very relieved and pleased to say the entire matter is resolved" and as part of the resolution a statement was to be read out by Rossa Fanning SC on behalf of the defendants.

The statement said the defendants "confirm they never in any way questioned the honesty of Sen Coffey and acknowledge him to be a politician of integrity and wished him well in his future political career.

"The defendants regret any upset caused by the article to Sen Coffey and his family."

Mr Fanning said the online version of the article had been taken down and will not be republished.

Counsel said that on consent between the parties the court could strike out the proceedings and make no order as to costs, other than an order vacating previous costs orders.

Mr Justice Barton said the court was pleased the parties had been able to resolve the matter and he made the orders as requested with no further order.

Irish Independent

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