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Former TD apologises to Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald over 'damaging' tweet

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Picture by Niall Carson/PA
Brendan Hughes

SINN Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has received an apology from a former Fianna Fáil TD over a "damaging" message posted on Twitter.

Ms McDonald sued Declan Breathnach over the tweet from 2018, which was a reply to a message she had posted in support of the now-retired Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Charles Meenan heard the proceedings had been settled on terms.

As part of the settlement, an apology was read in court on behalf of Mr Breathnach, a former Louth TD who lost his seat in February's election.

"On October 11 2018 I published a statement on Twitter concerning Mary Lou McDonald in which I wrongly accused Ms McDonald of being a hypocrite and someone who condoned the murders of members of An Garda Síochána," he said in his statement.

"I deeply regret that I made these unfounded and damaging accusations and I retract them in full.

"I unreservedly apologise to Ms McDonald for the upset and distress caused by my comments and for my unjustified attack on her reputation."

The court heard the other terms of the settlement were confidential.

Counsel asked the court to adjourn the matter for a month to allow the other terms to be implemented.

In a statement after the hearing, Ms McDonald's solicitor Laura Cunningham, of Johnsons Solicitors, said her client was satisfied her reputation had been "completely vindicated" following Mr Breathnach's "categoric public apology... together with a financial settlement".

"My client had been left with absolutely no alternative but to take this legal action as a result of an entirely unprovoked attack upon her good name by Mr Breathnach on Twitter," she said.

"My client is not prepared to tolerate false and malicious accusations being made against her and today's announcement reflects this."

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