Peace group said damages by author, publishers

 

JOURNALIST and author Mr Tim Pat Coogan and Harper Collins Publishers Ltd have paid substantial damages to three founders of New Consensus, in settlement of libel actions, the High Court was told yesterday. An apology was also read out.

Mr Michael Nugent, Ms Anne Holliday and Mr Michael Fitzpatrick, founders of the peace group, "had taken the libel actions against Mr Coogan, a former editor of the Irish Press, of Castle Park Road, Glenageary, and the publishers of his book, The IRA, Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, Bishopbriggs, Glasgow.

Yesterday, Mr Michael McDonald SC, for the three, told Mr Justice Carney the case was mentioned to have the proceedings struck out by consent as the matter had been settled. Substantial damages had been paid. The defendants had also made an apology in full terms and he would read it out.

"Apology to Michael Nugent, Anne Holliday and Michael Fitzpatrick, founders of New Consensus. The IRA by Tim Pat Coogan, 4th edition published May 1995. Publisher Harper Collins Publishers Ltd.

"In the latest edition of Tim Pat Coogan's book The IRA, reference is made to the peace group New Consensus as having grown out of the old Official IRA. The author and publishers accept that this allegation is completely untrue and entirely without foundation.

"They unreservedly accept that the founders of New Consensus, Michael Nugent, Anne Holliday and Michael Fitzpatrick have never had any connection with, or any sympathy for, the Official IRA, and that they abhor and condemn paramilitary violence as a means of achieving political objectives.

"The author and publishers accept that New Consensus is and always has been an independent, autonomous, non party political and non sectarian organisation dedicated to the achievement of stability in Northern Ireland via peaceful and democratic means.

"The author and publishers apologise unreservedly to Michael Nugent, Anne Holliday and Michael Fitzpatrick for the distress and embarrassment which the allegation had caused them. Signed: Tim Pat Coogan and Harper Collins Publishers Ltd."