Journalist wants to meet application for apology 'head on'

 

JOURNALIST SAM Smyth is to meet “head on” an application from politician Michael Lowry that the court order him to apologise, the president of the Circuit Court Mr Justice Matthew Deery was told yesterday.

Brendan Kirwan for Smyth told the court the application was for summary disposal under section 34 of the Defamation Act 2009, which allows a court give a summary ruling where a defamatory statement has been made and where the defendant has no defence likely to succeed.

However, Smyth’s position was that the application was unwarranted.

He wanted to meet the application head on and wanted to file a detailed affidavit.

While both sides had tentatively agreed to a three-week adjournment, Smyth will be out of the jurisdiction from November 8th to 18th and he wanted to suggest a hearing on Monday, November 22nd.

Michael Collins, solicitor for Mr Lowry, said his client’s difficulty was that a response from Smyth to Mr Lowry’s initiating letter in the action had not arrived until midday on Wednesday. He was apprehensive that there might be further delay.

Mr Kirwan said he would hope to have a replying affidavit filed prior to November 22nd and be ready for a hearing on that date. Mr Justice Deery set the matter back to that date.

The case by Mr Lowry, who is an Independent deputy for North Tipperary, is against Smyth personally and not TV3 or Independent Newspapers, the media organisations through which Smyth published the allegedly defamatory comments.

  • In a statement issued on Mr Lowry’s behalf on Wednesday night, the deputy said he took the case after Smyth had failed to publish a correction and an apology for “highly offensive and defamatory statements” on TV3 and in the Irish Independent.

“I am seeking a court order declaring that the statements made by Smyth are false and defamatory of me. I am seeking an order directing Smyth to publish an apology. I am seeking a further order prohibiting Smyth from making such statements and requesting an order for the costs of these legal proceedings.”

The comments complained of concern the inquiry by the Moriarty tribunal into matters concerning Mr Lowry and businessman Denis O’Brien. The tribunal is to resume sittings next week.

In the statement Mr Lowry said he had specifically instructed his solicitors not to seek any damages.

The statement was issued by Valerie O’Reilly, the owner of Unicorn PR.

Ms O’Reilly was appointed to the National Transport Authority earlier this year by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, having been suggested for the position by Mr Lowry.

The authority was established last year and has responsibility for public transport services including the provision of an integrated public transport service for the greater Dublin area.