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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Paul Sharp/Photocall Ireland Former Tánaiste Mary Harney is reported to have settled a libel action against the operators of Newstalk.
Harney Libel

McCafferty didn’t know she was live when making Harney comments

The former Minister for Health settles action against Newstalk over comments made on air by Nell McCafferty last year.

NELL MCCAFFERTY did not realise that she was being broadcast live on air when she made comments that have resulted in radio station Newstalk paying over €450,000 in a libel settlement to former Tánaiste Mary Harney.

McCafferty made the comments while appearing as a guest on Tom Dunne’s radio show last year, not realising that her segment was being broadcast live – later explaining that she thought her conversation was an “introductory chat over tea and a bun before we went live”.

Despite issuing a series of apologies in the hours and days following the broadcast – including one from McCafferty herself when she realised her comments had been broadcast live – today’s edition of the Phoenix magazine reveals that the action has now been settled out of court for just over €450,000.

Yesterday, Phoenix editor Paddy Prendeville told the RTÉ News at One that Harney’s solicitors Vincent & Beatty had originally sought a sum closer to €1m in damages against News 106 Ltd, but that she had apparently settled for an amount just under half of that.

Court records showed that Harney had submitted two affadavits to the High Court as legal action was prepared, while Newstalk’s CEO Frank Cronin also submitted an affidavit in December.

The court records have not yet been amended to record the settlement of the case.

Today’s Irish Daily Mail reports that billionaire Denis O’Brien, whose Communicorp group owns Newstalk, made repeated attempts to contact Harney to offer a personal apology but was rebuffed on each occasion.

Newstalk’s representatives Meagher Solicitors yesterday declined to comment, neither Harney’s solicitors nor Newstalk itself returned contact.

Harney has donated previous libel settlements, both secured during her time as Tánaiste, to charity – thought to be the Peamount Hospital in Rathcoole.

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