Fine Gael politican suing Sinn Féin activist over Facebook post

Cllr Ted Leddy says Alan Donnelly’s statement led to death threat and other ‘odious matters’

A Fine Gael councillor and ally of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is suing a Sinn Féin activist over an allegedly defamatory statement posted on Facebook.

Cllr Ted Leddy, who is based in Castleknock in Mr Varadkar's Dublin West constituency, claims activist Alan Donnelly defamed him in a post which he says led to a death threat and other "odious matters".

Mr Donnelly, a brother of Sinn Féin Dublin West Dáil candidate Cllr Paul Donnelly, denies the claims.

Alan Donnelly brought an application before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds on Monday requiring Mr Leddy to provide a statutory declaration that he had been fully advised of his option to have the matter resolved by mediation. The judge dismissed the application saying it was "premature and heavy handed".


John J Morrissey BL, for Alan Donnelly, said his side had asked the Leddy side to consider mediation under the 2017 Mediation Act.

This requires a solicitor to advise a client to consider the option as an alternative to much more expensive court proceedings. The Act requires the solicitor, among other things, to provide a client with information about the advantages and benefits of mediation are.

Mr Morrissey said despite correspondence before Christmas, his side had only learned on Monday that the Leddy side had been so advised. However, it was still his case the Leddy side had not complied with the requirement to provide a statutory declaration as also required.

Strike out

Willam Maher BL, for Mr Leddy, said before Christmas the Donnelly side had been advised Mr Leddy was in the process of filing the statutory declaration. But a few days into the New Year, this court application, which also sought a strike out of the proceedings, was brought, counsel said.

This was “very curious” in circumstances where the other side was seeking settlement talks over a statement on Facebook by a known political activist against a known councillor in which he was defamed, he said.

Yet no defence to the defamatory statement had yet been filed and this was of particular concern given “what has been visited on Mr Leddy, up to and including a death threat and other odious matters”.

Ms Justice Reynolds said the purpose of mediation is to achieve a resolution of a dispute.

“It is quite clear this motion is premature and heavy handed,” she said.

She struck it out with no order as to costs and gave seven days for the statutory declaration under the Mediation Act to be provided.