Tuesday 21 May 2019

Sinn Féin activist makes 'unreserved apology' to Fine Gael councillor over comments posted on Facebook

Councillor Ted Leddy
Councillor Ted Leddy

A Fine Gael councillor and constituency ally of An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has received an 'unreserved apology' from a Sinn Fein activist over comments posted on Facebook.

Cllr Ted Leddy (32), who holds the council seat in Castleknock once held by Mr Varadkar, settled a defamation action he took against SF activist Alan Donnelly over comments posted on the social media platform on July 12th, 2018.

He had claimed that the defamatory post, arising out of the councillor's attendance at an event marking the Orange Order's 12th of July celebrations, had led to him receiving a death threat and other negative commentaries.

At the High Court on Thursday Mr Justice Seamus Noonan was told by Willam Maher BL, instructed by solicitor Kevin O'Higgins for Cllr Leddy, that the case had been settled on terms.

As part of the settlement, a statement by Mr Donnelly was read to the court.

He "unreservedly apologised to Mr Leddy," and acknowledged that his comments published on Facebook on July 12th 2018 with respect to Mr Leddy and his political activities "were entirely untrue, unwarranted and without foundation."

In his statement, Mr Donnelly also "apologised unreservedly for any distress caused to Mr Leddy his partner and his family as a consequence of his actions and he confirms that he has paid an amount of compensation to Mr Leddy as a result."

Mr Donnelly also undertook "to post an apology and a clarification on his social media pages and encourages all those who shared his original post of July 12, 2018, to delete that post from their newsfeed and instead to share his clarifications".

The court heard that Mr Donnelly from Lohunda Downs, Clonsilla, Dublin, and is a brother of  SF politician Cllr Paul Donnelly, had also agreed to pay Mr Leddy a sum of €19,750 which is inclusive of the FG councillor's legal costs.

Mr Maher said the defamation arose after his client was pictured at "a cross-border, cross-community event," on July 12th 2018.

Counsel said Mr Donnelly was not present in court but was aware of the application and that the statement was being read to the court as part of the settlement agreement.

Other terms of the settlement include undertakings by Mr Donnelly to desist from making any further defamatory and hateful comments about Mr Leddy.

He had agreed that over the next 24 hours he will remove all previous defamatory comments made by him on social media.

Mr Donnelly also undertook to post a statement in similar terms to the one read to the court on that top of his Facebook newsfeed for the next 30 days, and share it on several social media pages where the original defamatory post was widely circulated. 

Mr Justice Noonan agreed to accept and file the terms of the settlement agreement and gave liberty to Cllr Leddy to apply to have the case re-entered should the need arise. 

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