Tuesday 13 November 2018

Former Garda commissioner runs out of time in bid to sue newspaper for libel

Refused: Former Garda Commissioner Noírín O’Sullivan was denied more time to sue ‘Irish Examiner’. Picture: Collins
Refused: Former Garda Commissioner Noírín O’Sullivan was denied more time to sue ‘Irish Examiner’. Picture: Collins

Aodhan O'Faolain

The High Court has dismissed former Garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan's application for an extension of time to bring a defamation action against the 'Irish Examiner' newspaper.

Ms O'Sullivan, who served as Commissioner between 2014 and 2017, had claimed she was defamed by the Cork-based paper in an article on the front page on October 4, 2016, headlined: "Senior Garda tried to 'destroy' source."

The newspaper denied the article was defamatory.

In September, Ms O'Sullivan applied to the High Court for an order permitting her to extend the 12-month time limit to bring defamation proceedings.

The court can, under the Defamation Act 2009, extend the limit for another year.

The 'Examiner' opposed the extension of time application.

Yesterday, Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington refused to grant Ms O'Sullivan an order allowing her to issue defamation proceedings outside the statutory one-year limit.

The judge said Ms O'Sullivan had said she did not bring the proceedings any earlier because the former commissioner did not believe herself to be in a position to consider the matter from the date of publication until the conclusion of the Disclosures Tribunal. Those reasons, while sincerely and genuinely held, were "insufficient to disapply the one-year statutory limit", the judge said.

The fact she did not institute proceedings within the time limit had "consequences for her in now seeking to issue to intended proceedings".

The interests of justice require that no direction be given to disapply the one-year statutory time limit.

Irish Independent

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