Man denies involvement in 'arranged road accident'

The leader of a group which commemorates fallen IRA men has denied in the High Court he was involved in an "arranged road traffic accident."

Martin Lafferty (aged 55), from Clady in Strabane, Co Tyrone, sued the driver of a rented car, as well as Hertz Rent-a-Car itself, for injuries arising out of a collision with Mr Lafferty's Peugeot 406 at a roundabout in Lifford, Co Donegal, on June 28, 2011.

Mr Lafferty was driving with three other people in his vehicle while the other car, driven by Gareth Feeney, with addresses in Strabane and Middlesex, England, had a total of five people in it.

Seven out of the nine, including Mr Lafferty were awarded sums of less than €10,000 in Buncrana Circuit Court in 2015 for injuries from the accident.

Hertz, which is owned by Ryans Investments NI Ltd, appealed those awards to the High Court.

In evidence today, Mr Lafferty said he was on his way to check on his cattle when Mr Feeney's hired Ford Fiesta approached the roundabout but failed to stop and hit his car.

His car was not driveable afterwards because of the damage, while the Fiesta could be driven.

The court heard a garda who arrived at the scene saw extensive damage to the rear passenger side of the Peugeot and some damage to the front of the Fiesta.

Under cross examination by Joseph McGettigan SC, for Ryans/Hertz, Mr Lafferty said he had been involved in three other road traffic accidents in the last 14 or 15 years, including one which was settled and one he is still pursuing.

He was also injured in 1993 when he was shot by a British soldier in Newtownards. His father was Neil Lafferty who was in charge of the west Tyrone brigade of the IRA and who died in Long Kesh prison.

He agreed he was the person carrying a tri-colour at the head of a commemoration march by the "Joseph Plunkett 1916 Society" - which commemorates the IRA dead - in November 2011, a few months after the accident in which he claimed he suffered pain in his head and right shoulder.

He said he was the leader of that society but disagreed that carrying the flag was difficult with his injuries.

He disagreed it was more difficult that the act of trying to turn the steering wheel on his van which he said he had difficulty doing after the accident.

He said all the people in his car were members of the Joseph Plunkett Society while one of them in the other car had just attended a commemoration ceremony and was a member of another similar group called the Charlie Darcy 1916 Society.

Mr McGettigan put it to him this was "an arranged accident between you and Mr Feeney" and that he had been in touch with Mr Feeney over it.

He replied: "That is a very serious allegation and it is untrue".

Mr McGettigan said when Mr Feeney arrived at the Hertz office in Derry to return the car, he did not have Mr Lafferty's details.

He was able to immediately ring him (Lafferty) and the first thing he said was "How're ya Marty".

Mr Lafferty said he has never been called Marty in his life and could not remember any such phone call but knew he must have provided his details to Mr Feeney.

He also denied he knew Mr Feeney except to see from him coming into a night club in Strabane where he had worked for 12 years.

The case continues before Mr Justice Charles Meenan.


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