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

The councillor had brought a defamation case to the High Court in relation to the social media post.

File photo
File photo
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

A FINE GAEL councillor has received an ‘unreserved apology’ from a Sinn Fein activist over comments he posted on Facebook.

Cllr Ted Leddy (32), who holds a seat in Castleknock, Co Dublin, settled a defamation action he took against Alan Donnelly over comments posted on the social media platform on 12 July 2018.

He 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.

High Court judge, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan was told by William Maher BL, instructed by solicitor Kevin O’Higgins for Leddy, that the case had been settled on terms.

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

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

In his statement, 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”.

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 12 July 2018, to delete that post from their newsfeed and instead to share his clarifications”.

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

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

Counsel said 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 Donnelly to desist from making any further defamatory and hateful comments about 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 the 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 Leddy to apply to have the case reentered should the need arise.  

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Aodhan O Faolain

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