Thursday 5 December 2019

MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan apologises to Fianna Fail politician for his Facebook comments on the morning of by-election

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan
Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Marese McDonagh

MEP Luke Ming Flanagan has apologised to a Fianna Fail politician for comments he posted on his Facebook page on the morning of the October 2014 Roscommon-south Leitrim by-election.

A defamation action taken by Councillor Ivan Connaughton against Mr Flanagan was settled at Roscommon circuit court.

Speaking afterwards, Cllr Connaughton said he was delighted with the outcome: “I wanted to clear my name," he said.

In an apology read to the court the MEP and former TD for Roscommon south Leitrim said that on October 10 2014 he had posted comments on his Facebook page referring to remarks made by Ivan Connaughton in an article in the Roscommon Herald in February  2011. Cllr Connaughton’s  comments were reported under the headline “The gloves are off”.

"In hindsight Mr Flanagan accepts that he misinterpreted the comments made by Mr Connaughton  and he is happy to correct the record in this regard”, Judge Doirbhile Flanagan was told.

The apology read on Mr Flanagan’s behalf added: "Mr Flanagan apologises to Mr Connaughton for any hurt caused”.

Fianna Fail's Ivan Connaughton. Photo Brian Farrell
Fianna Fail's Ivan Connaughton. Photo Brian Farrell

Councillor Connaughton topped the poll in the Roscommon south Leitrim by-election in 2014 but  in what was regarded as a surprise defeat  for Fianna Fail,  the seat was ultimately taken by Independent candidate Michael Fitzmaurice who had been endorsed by Mr Flanagan.

The by-election was held following the election of Luke Ming Flanagan to the European parliament.

Both Mr Flanagan and Mr Connaughton were at Roscommon courthouse for the  hearing which had been expected to continue all day.

At the outset counsel for both men requested an adjournment to allow talks to take place and after almost three hours,  Judge Flanagan heard that there had been a settlement.

She adjourned the case until the March sittings of the court to allow for implementation of the settlement .

Speaking afterwards Cllr Connaughton said that  he had taken the case to clear his name and he was delighted with the outcome.

"I did not take this case for financial gain," said the Athleague-based auctioneer. "I wanted to clear my name and now I just want to move on with my political career and my business”.

 Mr Connaughton  said he felt he had no choice but to take the case because of the serious nature of the comments made by the MEP.

"I had no option but I am delighted that is over," he said.

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