Newspaper apologises over comments posted onlineThursday 28 January 2016 23.37
The Irish Times newspaper has apologised to a Consultant Psychiatrist over comments posted about her on the publication's website.
Professor Patricia Casey brought defamation proceedings before the High Court over remarks posted in the comments section by individuals in July 2013 in relation to articles in the Irish Times written by columnist Breda O'Brien and by psychiatrist Prof Brendan Kelly.
At the High Court, Jim O Callaghan SC for Prof Casey told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan the action had been resolved between the parties.
As part of the settlement an apology was read to the court by Cian Ferriter SC on behalf of the newspaper.
The apology said "In the summer of 2013 the Irish Times published on its website a series of articles relating to the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill which, at that stage, was progressing though the Houses of the Oireachtas.
"In the comment section beneath the articles that were published on the Irish Times website, two anonymous members of the public made comments stating that Professor Patricia Casey was an unprofessional psychiatrist who was unfit to treat suicidal pregnant women.
"The comments also asserted that Professor Casey misrepresented psychiatric research in order to promote a Catholic agenda.
"The Irish Times accepts that the comments made about Professor Casey were untrue. The Irish Times recognises that Professor Casey is a psychiatrist of the highest integrity and professionalism.
“We apologise to Professor Casey for the distress caused to her as a result of the comments made on the Irish Times website," the apology concluded.
No other details of the settlement were revealed in open court.
In a statement issued after the apology was read out Prof Casey said; "I am personally very pleased with the outcome. What was said could not be allowed to stand.
"It is a great pity it has taken so long to get to this point. I believe this is an important case because it will hopefully lead online editions of newspapers and other similar websites to think again about the sort of online comments they allow about people.
"Defamatory comments would not be permitted to appear in the letters pages of newspapers so why should they be allowed to appear in the comments sections of the online editions of those same newspapers?
"I want to especially thank my legal team, including solicitor Kevin Brophy whose advice has been so informed and prudent," the Professor added.