Prominent businessman Jim Mansfield jnr has informed RTÉ he plans to take legal action over what he says were defamatory remarks linking him to former INLA man Dessie O'Hare.
RTÉ has removed the segment from the RTÉ Player service which Mr Mansfield has objected to, but it has strongly denied that it defamed him.
Mr Mansfield has taken issue with a broadcast on the RTÉ’s flagship current affairs programme Prime Time of last Wednesday, April 3rd.
The broadcast focused on the life and crimes of O’Hare after he had been before the Special Criminal Court for a sentencing hearing earlier that day.
Mr Mansfield now claims RTÉ linked him to O’Hare as a matter of fact, without making it clear the claim they were linked had originated from O’Hare and only emerged publicly during evidence in a court case.
He also claims RTÉ “imparted defamatory meanings” which suggested Mr Mansfield was a criminal and that he had employed Dessie O’Hare for the purpose of evicting a man with violence and had been convicted of this, none of which was true.
Through his lawyer Kevin Winters, Mr Mansfield also claims Prime Time suggested he was inciting or attempting to incite violence and that he was involved in paramilitarism, which Mr Mansfield denies.
Mr Winters told RTÉ the reality was that Mr Mansfield was a businessman of standing who denied the claim he had hired O’Hare. He also had no involvement in crime.
Mr Mansfield’s lawyers demanded RTÉ remove the section of Prime Time video from its online platforms. They also requested an apology, compensation and Mr Mansfield’s legal costs.
Last week the claim was aired in court that O’Hare had told gardaí he was working for Mr Mansfield. The Dublin businessman issued a statement denying it. He said it was “untrue and without any foundation whatsoever”.
RTÉ’s in-house solicitors have denied Mr Mansfield was defamed during the Prime Time broadcast.
They said the entire segment on Prime Time formed part of the programme’s coverage of the evidence in the court case earlier in the day and that, as such, it was privileged.
The Prime Time broadcast related to O'Hare's appearance before the Special Criminal Court last Wednesday morning to face charges over an incident in 2015 during which an attempt was made to evict Martin Byrne and his family from apartments in Co Dublin.
Mr Byrne worked for Jim Mansfield jnr and had previously worked for his, now deceased, father Jim Mansfield snr on his personal security.
O'Hare (62), of Slate Rock Road, Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh, pleaded guilty on January 14th last to falsely imprisoning Mr Byrne at Rathcoole and Saggart on June 9th, 2015.
He also pleaded guilty to assaulting John Roche, causing him harm, at The Towers, Garter Lane, Saggart, Co Dublin on the same date.
During the hearing a Garda witness said that when O’Hare was questioned by gardaí he claimed he had been working for Mr Mansfield jnr on the day in question.
O’Hare, a former INLA man, was sentenced in 1988 to two 20-year terms of imprisonment to run consecutively having been convicted of false imprisonment and grievous bodily harm.
That sentence related to the 1987 kidnapping of Dublin dentist John O’Grady. He was held for 23 days and had the tips of two fingers cut off during the ordeal.
Last Wednesday at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, O’Hare was taken into custody having previously been on bail. He is due back before the court tomorrow for sentence to be imposed.
Mr Winters told The Irish Times had had already written to the Garda to request an explanation about the airing in court of O’Hare’s claim he was working for Mr Mansfield. RTÉ said it did not comment on legal matters.