Former Justice Minister Patrick Cooney settles defamation case

Patrick Cooney, pictured in 2017. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/

Former Minister for Justice Patrick Cooney has received an apology, damages and his legal costs under a settlement of his defamation action against the Irish Times.

The case was listed in the High Court jury list for hearing on Thursday but Paul Gallagher SC, for Mr Cooney, told Mr Justice Bernard Barton today it had settled on terms including an apology to be read in court.

Brian O’Moore SC, for the Irish Times, then read the apology.

It stated: “On February 26, 2014, the Irish Times published an article suggesting that Mr Patrick Cooney was an accomplice to alleged Garda brutality when he was Minister for Justice from 1973 to 1977.

“On November 17, 2014, the Irish Times published an apology for making this allegation, acknowledged its falsity and undertook not to repeat it.

“An opinion piece by Professor Diarmaid Ferriter in the edition of June 4th, 2016, referred to a unit within the Garda Siochána known as the ‘Heavy gang’ and to Garda abuses.

“Neither the Irish Times nor Professor Ferriter intended the reference to Mr Cooney in that article as suggesting that he approved of any abuse that occurred.

“We accept that he did not approve of such alleged abuses or illegality and that any such suggestion is entirely false.

“We apologise to Mr Cooney and his family for the great upset caused to them by this article and undertake for the future not to print or publish this allegation or any similar allegation in this form. The Irish Times has further agreed to pay substantial damages and costs to Mr Cooney.”

After counsel completed reading the apology, Mr Justice Barton struck the case out on the basis agreed between the sides.

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