Wednesday 21 February 2018

Irish Mail on Sunday apologises to former Health Minister Dr James Reilly over article

Minister James Reilly
Minister James Reilly

Tim Healy

THE publishers of the Irish Mail on Sunday have apologised in the High Court to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly, over an article which falsely linked him to a developer building a new public health clinic.

Charles Meenan SC, for Dr Reilly, said the matter arose out of defamation proceedings brought over an October 7, 2012, article when his client was Minister for Health.

Counsel said the matter had been settled and Tom Murphy BL, for the publishers Associated Newspapers and Associated Newspapers Ireland, would read an apology to the court on behalf of the defendants.

It said the article was published under the headlines: "Reilly link to developer of second clinic - he sold land for luxury homes...built by man in line for new HSE contract" and "Doc's Donlon deal".

The article claimed there were links between Dr Reilly and a developer building a new HSE primary care centre in Swords, Dublin, arising out of a property transaction between the Minister and the developer.

"This wholly incorrect statement was based on our mistaken belief that Land Registry title records show the date of the property sale, rather than the date on which the sale is logged by the Land Registry staff", the apology stated.

"The Irish Mail on Sunday is now satisfied that Dr Reilly had no link to the developer of the clinic and acknowledges that this grave allegation was without foundation and should not have been made.

"Any implication in our report that Dr Reilly had abused his position as Minister for Health to favour the granting of a public contract to a developer with whom he had personal links, or that he was politically corrupt, is also wholly without foundation".

The paper "deeply regrets" that the article was published and was "happy to unreservedly apologise to Dr Reilly for the damage and distress caused to him by the article".

Mr Meenan, for Dr Reilly, told Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley that in those circumstances the proceedings could be struck out.

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