Two traders in Cork’s famous English Market who met Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in 2011 were back in the limelight at Cork Circuit Court yesterday.
Fishmonger Pat O’Connell was the plaintiff in a civil action in which he claimed greengrocer Michael Herlihy had defamed him on Pat Kenny’s radio programme on Newstalk on December 3, 2014.
Mr O’Connell said he was defamed by untruthful claims that he had intimidated other fish stall holders and had, on occasions, paid suppliers by brown envelopes in an underhand manner.
After hearing the testimony of both parties, Judge David Riordan found that Mr O’Connell had been defamed.
He ordered Mr O’Herlihy to make no further defamatory or injurious comments and also ordered him to pay the fishmonger €30,000 in compensation.
Judge Riordan said: “Mr Herlihy seeks to justify it by reheating the allegations but not by presenting evidence that what he is saying is correct.
“I have no doubt there is tension between certain stall holders and the tension boiled over when on air. Mr O’Connell is now chairman of the stall holders association and the president of the Cork Business Association. Clearly he has a duty to vindicate his reputation.
“Mr Herlihy is steadfast that he [Mr O’Connell] is engaged in these nefarious activities but he has not proven it.
“The case has not been met in any apologetic way. It is met in a manner that is feisty. To that extent, the matters complained of have been magnified.”
Prior to the radio show, there had been local media reports of Mr Herlihy buying potatoes from Lidl and selling them from his own stall.
He explained yesterday that he had been unable to get potatoes otherwise at the time and he had restaurant orders to meet.
Mr O’Connell agreed to come on the radio programme and he stressed that there was absolutely nothing illegal about Mr Herlihy buying the Lidl potatoes and re-selling them.
However, he said that he was on the programme to explain the ethos of the market as being about selling as much local produce as possible.
Mr Herlihy’s opening remarks were that Mr O’Connell had intimidated other fish stall holders to leave the English Market and that Mr Herlihy had seen people selling salmon to Mr O’Connell and being slipped brown envelopes.
Pat Kenny distanced himself and Newstalk from the allegations immediately.
Mr O’Connell said: “I am very proud of my family and my family’s business. I ended up being embarrassed, humiliated with lies and nothing but lies and how nasty it was.”
Mr Herlihy said Mr O’Connell had intimidated other fish stall holders from leaving the market.
Judge Riordan said the defendant was merely stating this and offering no evidence to support it.
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