Wednesday 18 September 2019

McDonald sues Fianna Fáil TD for defamation over Twitter comment

Legal fight: Mary Lou McDonald is suing Declan Breathnach. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Legal fight: Mary Lou McDonald is suing Declan Breathnach. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has begun legal proceedings against a Fianna Fáil TD regarding comments he made on social media platform Twitter.

The High Court defamation action has been launched in relation to a tweet posted by Louth TD Declan Breathnach in October last year.

The tweet, posted on the second anniversary of the murder of Garda Tony Golden, has since been deleted.

Its contents have been the subject of correspondence between solicitors for both TDs in recent months.

However, proceedings were only initiated on Thursday.

A statement of claim has yet to be filed with the court, but it is understood that Ms McDonald is seeking damages.

Sinn Féin was contacted for comment on behalf of Ms McDonald, but none has been forthcoming.

Mr Breathnach, who was elected to the Dáil for the first time in 2016, declined to comment. However, it is understood he intends to defend the proceedings.

The 'Sunday Independent' previously reported that solicitors for Ms McDonald sent Mr Breathnach a two-page letter in October alleging a comment made by him was "totally false and highly defamatory".

The legal firm said Ms McDonald was seeking a "sincere and fulsome" apology.

The Fianna Fáil TD was also asked to undertake that he would not repeat the comments he made on Twitter.

The solicitors said Ms McDonald wanted to be sent a proposal by Mr Breathnach for how he planned to compensate the Dublin Central TD.

A response sent by solicitors representing Mr Breathnach did not accept the allegation levelled against him.

It also said his comment on Twitter was "entirely reasonable" and not defamatory. The letter said Mr Breathnach had noted Ms McDonald's discomfort and had removed the tweet "as a matter of courtesy".

It is the second time in recent years that Ms McDonald has issued proceedings for defamation.

Actions initiated by Ms McDonald and party colleague Pearse Doherty in 2014 over an opinion column in the 'Irish Examiner' dealing with the Maíría Cahill rape case were settled the following year.

The newspaper published an apology.

Ms McDonald's predecessor as president of Sinn Féin is currently suing the BBC in the High Court in Dublin for defamation.

The action follows allegations in a 'Spotlight' programme that Gerry Adams sanctioned the murder in 2006 of Denis Donaldson, a former senior party official who was also a British agent.

The claims have been vehemently denied by Mr Adams.

Irish Independent

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