Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny has lodged High Court proceedings against An Garda Síochána; Mediahuis Ireland, publishers of the Independent titles; and the State.
It is understood the case involves a claim of breach of privacy arising from reports published by the Independent that contained a quote from An Garda Síochána about an ongoing investigation into an alleged criminal offence.
The reports did not name Mr Kenny, a Sligo-Leitrim TD, or any political party but did say there was a connection to a politician who was a member of an unnamed party.
The reports made it clear that there was no suggestion that this politician was being accused of any wrongdoing and there is no suggestion that Mr Kenny is in any way involved in wrongdoing.
Similar reports to those published by Mediahuis were published by other media outlets, though not The Irish Times. One media organisation that published a report on the same topic has an edited version of the quote from An Garda Síochána. The redaction has the effect of significantly expanding the number of TDs that the report might be referring to.
Mr Kenny’s proceedings were lodged in the High Court on Wednesday. Mr Kenny was contacted on Thursday and asked for a comment but has not responded as yet.
The case is the latest to be taken by a Sinn Féin politician against a media organisation. Party leader Mary Lou McDonald initiated defamation proceedings against RTÉ last year. That claim is linked to the case of Máiría Cahill, who was raped as a teenager by a man who was in the IRA.
In 2021, the Cork South Central TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire settled a libel action against RTÉ for an amount that was not disclosed, but was reported to be in excess of €150,000. That case involved comments made on the Liveline programme. Party whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh also received a settlement after comments on the same programme.
Former party leader Gerry Adams – who previously won a settlement in a libel action against the Sunday World – is suing the BBC in the High Court in Dublin over claims relating to the late IRA informer Denis Donaldson. Some years ago Mr Adams won an apology from Louth radio station LMFM about Tom Oliver, the Co Louth Protestant farmer murdered by the IRA.
Earlier this year, Ms McDonald’s husband, Martin Lanigan, lodged High Court proceedings against journalist and former minister Shane Ross arising from a biography he wrote about Ms McDonald.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last year referred to members of his party receiving solicitors’ letters threatening legal action from members of Sinn Féin and asked whether this was part of a strategy to stifle debate.
However, Dublin Mid West Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin rejected Mr Varadkar’s suggestion.
“Any member of the party who decides to take a libel action does so individually, they fund it themselves, and if Leo Varadkar wants to have less libel actions against his members he should tell them to stop libelling members of our party,” he told RTÉ.