Tuesday 15 October 2019

Galway City Council and politician apologise to two brothers over comments made after cancelled marathon

The Four Courts
The Four Courts

Tim Healy

Galway City Council and one of its councillors have unreservedly apologised in the High Court to two brothers who claimed they were defamed in comments made in the wake of the cancellation of the 2011 Galway marathon.

The apology was to athletes Paul and Richard Donovan who sued the council and Fianna Fail Councillor, Michael J Crowe, over several publications and statements concerning the brothers' role as organisers of the marathon.

The brothers claimed they were defamed in early  August 2011 when the defendants issued statements to the effect that Donovans had delayed unnecessarily in informing prospective participants in the 2011 Galway City Marathon that the event had been cancelled sometime after a decision to cancel the run had been made. 

It was further alleged that Cllr Crowe, also in early August 2011, published or caused a number of statements to the effect that the brothers had failed to honour an agreement to pay a portion of the entry fee from each participant in the marathon to the Galway City Sports Partnership.

While Cllr Crowe did withdraw the allegations in respect of the donations on August 11, 2011, and acknowledged that the earlier statement was incorrect, it was claimed he refused to apologise for the defamatory remarks he had made. 

It was claimed these statements were not true, damaged the brothers' good names as well as their personal and professional reputations.

The allegations and the failure to apologise caused additional distress to the brothers who are athletes and are involved in the organisation of running events. 

On Thursday Paul Burns SC, for the brothers, told High Court president, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, that the defamation actions had been settled.

As part of the settlements, the following statement was read to the court in which the defendants now acknowledged the brothers' voluntary commitment to Galway City Sports Partnership to make a donation of a portion of the proceeds of the 2010 Galway City Marathon was fully honoured at that time.

"The defendants also acknowledge that the Donovans did not delay in communicating the cancellation of the 2011 Galway City Marathon to registered competitors. "

"We acknowledge that any suggestions to the contrary were false and undertake not to repeat or republish our earlier statements or words to similar effect."

"We accept that the plaintiffs are persons of the highest personal and professional integrity and unreservedly apologise for the hurt and distress caused by our previous comments."

Mr Justice Kelly agreed to strike out the proceedings. 

The brothers' solicitors, Johnsons, said afterwards the men "regretted having to bring the actions but are now delighted that the record has been set straight."

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