Former Fianna Fáil TD apologises to Mary Lou McDonald over 2018 tweet

Kilkenny People reporter

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Kilkenny People reporter

Former Fianna Fáil TD apologises to Mary Lou McDonald over 2018 tweet

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald

Former Fianna Fail TD Declan Breathnach has apologised to Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald over a tweet he published in 2018.  

Ms McDonald sued the former Co Louth TD over a post he published on Twitter on October 11, 2018, in reply to a tweet she had posted in support of the now-retired Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

At the High Court on Thursday Mr Justice Charles Meenan heard that the proceedings had been settled on terms.

As part of the settlement an apology by Mr Breathnach, who lost his Dail seat in this year’s General Election, was read to the court by his counsel Darren Lehane Bl.

“On the 11th of October 2018, I published a statement on Twitter Concerning Mary Lou McDonald in which I wrongly accused Ms McDonald of being a hypocrite and someone who condoned the murders of members of An Garda Siochana,” Mr Breathnach said in his statement.

“I deeply regret that I made these unfounded and damaging accusations and I retract them in full.

“I unreservedly apologise to Ms McDonald for the upset and distress caused by my comments and for my unjustified attack on her reputation,” the statement concluded.

Tom Hogan SC instructed by Johnson solicitors, for Ms McDonald told the court that the other terms of the settlement were "confidential".

Counsel asked the court to adjourn the matter for a month to allow for the implementation of the other terms.

Counsel added he did not expect the matter to trouble the court any further, and that final orders could be made on the return date.

Mr Justice Meenan agreed to put the matter back for mention to a date in August.

In her action Ms McDonald claimed Mr Breathnach's tweet meant that her sympathy for Mr McCabe was disingenuous, insincere and that she was a hypocrite.

Ms McDonald also claimed that the tweet meant she had failed to speak out about and condoned the murders of members of An Garda Siochana by dissident republicans and criminals.

She alleged that the tweet defamed her, and as well as seeking damages including aggravated damages, she also sought an injunction restraining the ex-FF TD from further publishing the same of a similar statement about her.

Following today's settlement, a statement was issued on the Sinn Fein politician’s behalf by her solicitor Ms Laura Cunningham outside of court.

Ms Cunningham confirmed that her client was satisfied that Ms McDonald’s reputation has been “completely vindicated” following the “categoric public apology,” made to Ms McDonald by Mr Breathnach, “together with a financial settlement” reached with the defendant.

“My client has been left with absolutely no alternative but to take the legal action as a result of an entirely unprovoked attack upon her good name by Mr Breathnach on Twitter."

“My client is not prepared to tolerate false and malicious accusations being made against her and today's announcement reflects this” Ms Cunningham added.

The solicitor declined to disclose any details of the financial aspect of the settlement, telling reporters that it was confidential.