Sunday 21 January 2018

Healy Eames to aid African orphans with 'Mail' payout

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames leaving court with her husband Michael
Senator Fidelma Healy Eames leaving court with her husband Michael

Tim Healy and Louise Hogan

A senator plans to make a donation to the widows and orphans of the Rwandan genocide after receiving a payout and apology from the publishers of the 'Irish Daily Mail'.

Fidelma Healy Eames was in the High Court to hear the apology read out on behalf of Associated Newspapers over articles it published about her voluntary work in the East African country.

Afterwards, Ms Healy Eames's solicitor, Paul Tweed, said his client was satisfied the record had been finally set straight and her reputation totally vindicated with a "categoric apology" together with the payment of "appropriate damages".

Ms Healy Eames said the amount of the payout was confidential but she will give a donation to the Rwandan widows and orphans of the genocide, which both she and her husband, Michael Eames, volunteered with two years ago.

"I think something good has come out of this," she said.

She said her work in Rwanda was one of the best things she had done in her life and this had been a "bitter twist but now thank God the playing field has been levelled".

The publishers of the 'Mail', Associated Newspapers, said the articles on April 20 and 21, 2012, gave a "wholly inaccurate impression" that she had benefited from public or charity funds.

Counsel Jim O'Callaghan, for Ms Healy Eames, told Mr Justice John Hedigan he was pleased to tell the court the matter had been resolved and could be struck out.

The reason for this was because his client had brought an application under the new Defamation Act and the 'Mail' was now going to make amends by reading out an apology.

Michael Kealey, solicitor for Associated Newspapers Ltd and Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd, read the apology which stated that the August 2012 articles were about the participation of Ms Healy Eames and her husband as volunteers with the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) charity in Rwanda.

The paper wished to make it clear their participation was "exclusively in support of the charity in Rwanda.

"We also accept the articles gave the wholly inaccurate impression that the senator had benefited from public or charity funds."

The apology stated that Ms Healy Eames voluntarily devoted her time and expertise to working with the Rwandan Ministry for Education in the areas of early childhood and special needs education. She worked with local teacher educators and policymakers for the betterment of Rwandan children, it also stated.

"We apologise to the senator and her family for the embarrassment caused by our reports."

Mr Justice Hedigan said he was glad it had been sorted out.

Irish Independent

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