FG Councillor receives unreserved apology from Sinn Féin activist over Facebook comments

A Fine Gael councillor and constituency colleague of An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has received an “unreserved apology” from a Sinn Féin activist over comments posted on Facebook.

Cllr Ted Leddy (aged 32), who holds the council seat in Castleknock once held by Mr Varadkar, settled a defamation action he took against Sinn Féin activist Alan Donnelly over comments posted on the social media platform on July 12, 2018.

He had claimed 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.

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

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

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

In his statement, Mr 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.”

Mr Donnelly also undertook “to post an apology and a clarification on his social media pages and encourage all those who shared his original post of July 12, 2018, to delete that post from their newsfeed and instead to share his clarifications”.

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

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

Counsel said Mr 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 Mr Donnelly to desist from making any further defamatory and hateful comments about Mr 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 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 Cllr Leddy to apply to have the case re-entered should the need arise.

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