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High Court

Nóirín O'Sullivan and her son are suing the Times newspaper group

The former Commissioner and her son appear to be suing the newspaper group over an article published last July concerning journalist Paul Williams.

90421279_90421279 (1) Ciaran McGowan (centre), together with his father Chief Superintendent Jim McGowan and mother Nóirín O'Sullivan at his passing out as a probationary Garda in June 2016 Eamonn Farrell / Rollingnews.ie Eamonn Farrell / Rollingnews.ie / Rollingnews.ie

THE FORMER GARDA Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and her son are suing Times Newspapers, the publishers of the Irish edition of the Times and the Sunday Times, in the High Court.

Court documents were filed on Thursday by both O’Sullivan and her son Ciaran McGowan against the title.

It’s unclear at present what the two lawsuits are in reference to.

A request for comment from O’Sullivan and McGowan’s solicitors, Kirwan McKeown James, was not replied to.

A spokesperson for The Times itself said it was not in a position to comment as the matter concerns an ongoing legal issue.

In July 2017, the Sunday Times published an article relating to the testimony of Paul Williams before the Charleton Disclosures Tribunal. The paper swiftly accepted that its report was inaccurate in certain respects which mentioned McGowan and published an apology. Williams himself launched a suit against the newspaper in relation to the same article in April of this year.

Apology

McGowan (30), who works for the Dublin-based photo agency Collins as a photographer, graduated as a Garda reserve in December 2013 and passed out as a probationary member of the force in June 2016.

O’Sullivan was Garda Commissioner, initially in an acting capacity before being made permanent in the role, from 2014 (following the resignation of Martin Callinan) until September of last year.

She was replaced by Acting Commissioner Donal Ó Cualáin, who himself stood aside when former PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris was appointed to a five-year term last month.

Separately, four defamation cases taken by Superintendent Noel Cunningham (who was present at a meeting with Maurice McCabe in Mullingar in 2008 which McCabe had secretly recorded) against TV3 and RTÉ have been set down for trial in the High Court.

The nature of that 2008 meeting became hotly disputed in the aftermath, coming to a head at the O’Higgins Commission in 2015, which was tasked with investigating certain goings-on in the Cavan/Monaghan Garda division where McCabe had previously worked. Cunningham’s and McCabe’s accounts of that meeting tallied completely but an error made in a summary (written by counsel for the Garda Commissioner) of Cunningham’s intended evidence for the Commission led to confusion.

What the defamation actions specifically relate to is as yet unknown. Cunningham also has outstanding actions against the Irish Examiner and the Sunday Times.

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