Monday 23 September 2019

Jury in Paudie Coffey defamation action sent home until next week

Paudie Coffey said the article called him a thief. Picture: Collins
Paudie Coffey said the article called him a thief. Picture: Collins

Tim Healy

The jury in the defamation action by former junior minister Paudie Coffey against a newspaper has been sent home until Tuesday.

It followed five hours of deliberation and Mr Justice Bernard Barton's direction it could reach a majority verdict of not less than 9-3.

The case, which has taken place over 12 days centres on the Kilkenny People's use of a press release from Mr Coffey's FG Carlow-Kilkenny colleague, John Paul Phelan TD, in January 2016. 

Mr Coffey was a Waterford TD and junior environment minister at the time and he claims the article was a major factor in him losing his Dáil seat over a month later.  

The press release was issued in an ongoing a dispute about a commission which was looking at moving the administrative boundary between Waterford and Kilkenny, a highly contentious issue among south Kilkenny people, the court heard.

The release said Mr Coffey had been "banding together" with then environment minister Alan Kelly to commit "daylight robbery."

It then stated there was an 18th century highwayman in Waterford called "Crotty the Robber" and now "Coffey the Robber was trying to do the very same".

The newspaper based an article almost 90 per cent on the press release and headlined it: "Coffey the Robber".

Mr Coffey claimed this was defamatory.

Iconic Newspapers, publishers of the paper, and the journalist who wrote the story, Sam Matthews, deny the claims.

Sending the jury home, Mr Justice Barton said they could go straight back into deliberations when they return and hopefully reach a conclusion on Tuesday.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News