The jury in a defamation case taken by former Sinn Féin councillor and IRA member Nicky Kehoe against RTÉ will resume deliberations on Monday.

This afternoon, Mr Justice Bernard Barton gave the jury the option of returning a majority verdict after the foreman of the jury said it would not be possible to return a unanimous verdict.

However, the jury had still not reached a verdict by this evening and so will resume deliberations on Monday.

The case concerns comments made on the Saturday with Claire Byrne programme by the then Labour TD Joe Costello.

He claimed a member of the IRA army council attended meetings and was controlling Sinn Féin votes on Dublin City Council.

He said: "All the little heads swivel around when a decision has to be made."

Also on the programme, Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin, who named Mr Kehoe as the person to whom Joe Costello was referring, repeatedly challenged Mr Costello about his remarks, describing them as outrageous and bizarre.

Mr Kehoe claimed the broadcast was hugely defamatory, damaged his personal and professional reputation by alleging he was a member of an illegal organisation and that he controlled the way in which Sinn Féin councillors vote on Dublin City Council.

Mr Kehoe said he had been reformed in prison and had left his paramilitary past behind. He said he dedicated his life to working in the community, as well as his GAA club in Cabra, and had worked for 25 years to restore his reputation.

He said all that was "taken away in one swipe" by the RTÉ programme. His lawyers said the case was in many ways about whether or not someone like Mr Kehoe was entitled to a second chance to restore their good name.

RTÉ denies the statement amounted to defamation. Lawyers for the broadcaster said Mr Kehoe was a notorious former IRA gunman who had served two jail terms. They said his reputation to this day was closely tied to his IRA activity in the past.

The presenter of the programme Claire Byrne defended her handling of the debate that day. She said she thought Mr Costello "had gone doolally" when he made the allegation and she could not have known what he was about to say.

Mr Costello had not named anyone and she was about to intervene when Mr Kehoe's Sinn Féin colleague Eoin Ó Broin jumped in, named him and robustly defended him.

She did not agree that she should have shut down the debate and said to do so would have done more damage to Mr Kehoe.