Tuesday 18 June 2019

Sen Fidelma Healy-Eames gets apology from Mail

Tim Healy

INDEPENDENT Senator Fidelma Healy Eames today received an apology in the High Court from the Irish Daily Mail over articles it published about her voluntary work in Rwanda.

The senator was in court to hear the apology read on behalf of Associated Newspaper, publishers of the Mail, in relation to articles on April 20 and 21, 2012, which "gave a wholly inaccurate impression" that she had benefited from public or charity funds.

Sen Healy Eames is also to receive undisclosed damages from which she said she is going to give a donation to Rwandan widows and orphans for who both she and her husband, Michael Eames, volunteered with two years ago.

Jim O'Callaghan SC, for Ms Healy Eames, told Mr Justice John Hedigan, he was pleased to tell the court the matter had been resolved. 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 Kealy, solicitor for Associated Newspapers Ltd and Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd, said there was consent to that and he read the apology which stated the August 2012 articles were about the participation of Sen Healy Eames and her husband as volunteers with the Voluntary Service Overseas 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 the senator voluntarily devoted her time and expertise to working with the Ministry for Education in the areas of early childhood and special needs education.   She worked with local teacher educators and policy makers for the betterment of Rwandan children, the apology stated.

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

Mr Justice Hedigan agreed to strike out the matter with no further order and said he was glad it had been sorted out.

Afterwards, Sen Healy Eames' 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.

Sen Healy Eames said the amount of damages was confidential but she will give a donation to the Rwandan widows and orphan.  "I think something good has come out of this", she said.

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

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