The Irish Examiner has opposed former garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan's application to be allowed to bring a defamation action against the newspaper. 

Ms O'Sullivan, who served as commissioner between 2014 and 2017, claims she was defamed by the newspaper in an article that appeared on the front page of the publication on 4 October 2016.

The allegations contained in the article were raised in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, and shortly afterwards an inquiry into the disclosures was ordered by the Minister for Justice.  

In February 2017 the Government announced that a Commission of Inquiry conducted by Mr Justice Peter Charleton would consider the claims in the disclosures made by Superintendent Dave Taylor and Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Ms O'Sullivan claims she was defamed in the article and has asked the High Court for an order permitting her to extend the time legally allowed to bring defamation proceedings against the newspaper.

The newspaper rejects her claims that she was defamed in the article and says that it published to the public the contents of what two gardaí had made in protected disclosures to the Minister for Justice about an alleged campaign to damage a garda whistleblower.

The story, the paper says, was dramatic news and hugely in the public interest given the concerns it raised, and that Ms O'Sullivan was not named nor identified in the article as being one of the senior gardaí against whom allegations were being made in the protected disclosures.

Under the 2009 Defamation Act, litigants have up to 12 months from the date of publication to bring defamation proceedings against the publisher.

However, under Section 38 of that Act, the High Court can extend the 12-month time limit to a maximum of two years.

Declan Doyle SC, appearing with Gary Compton BL for Ms O'Sullivan told the court said that Ms O'Sullivan was under the most intense strain from when the article was published to the conclusion of the public hearings of the Disclosures Tribunal. 

Counsel said it was absolutely crucial for his client to be allowed bring the proceedings so she can vindicate her good name.

In a sworn statement Ms O'Sullivan said she was not in a position to bring proceedings against the newspaper until now.

The entire controversy she said had taken a considerable toll on her and her family, she said.

 She said she did not want to add to that by challenging the newspaper and the other media outlets "who publically vilified us." 

Now that the Disclosures Tribunal has concluded its public hearings she was attempting "to undo the damage that has been done to my reputation by the newspaper and others."

She said that she fears the article and others will stand as a permanent record of the "horrendous and false allegations about me".

Oisin Quinn SC, appearing with Shane English Bl, for the newspaper, said that if Ms O'Sullivan was allowed bring the action it would have a "chilling effect on newspapers."

Counsel said that the newspaper was only contacted by Ms O'Sullivan's lawyers in September 2018, one year and eleven months after the article she complains of was published.

No good reason had been advanced why she should be given an extension of time to bring her proceedings counsel said. 

Counsel said that even if the court grants an extension the newspaper says it has a good defence to the claims.

Counsel said that there was significant public interest in the allegations contained in the disclosures being transparently investigated and determined.

Ms O'Sullivan counsel said has an opportunity for full public vindication in relation to the allegations in the Protected Disclosures when the next report of the Disclosures Tribunal is delivered. 

In reply, Mr Doyle said his client strongly rejects that argument.

The application was heard by Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington, who reserved her decision. 

The judge said she would give judgment as soon as possible.