The Tánaiste, Mary Harney, has settled a libel action against the Sunday Independent newspaper. 

Shortly after a jury was sworn in at the High Court to hear the case today, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy was told it had been settled.

In an apology read in the High Court, the Sunday Independent said that there had been no intention to suggest in an article published in January 2001 that Ms Harney had been the recipient of corrupt payments.

The paper said it readily acknowledged Ms Harney's excellent character and integrity.

Following the settlement Ms Harney said she was happy with the outcome but regretted that it had taken so long.

She acknowledged that an undisclosed sum of money was included in the settlement which she said she will be donating to charity.

On reform of the libel rules, Ms Harney said there needed to be laws to allow a free press.

However, she said if somebody was wrongly accused of doing something there needed to be a speedy resolution of the problem, without having to resort to expensive litigation.