‘Ming’ apologises to Connaughton over Facebook post

MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan has apologised in court to Fianna Fáil councillor Ivan Connaughton over a Facebook post that he wrote on the morning of the Roscommon-South Leitrim by-election in October 2014.

  He also placed the apology on Facebook, agreed to pay €5,000 to a charity of Cllr. Connaughton’s choice and to pay his legal fees.

  ‘Ming’ said: “It’s inevitable there are going to be bumps and scrapes along the way in political careers, and that is the case with me.

  “I am delighted that my money is going to go to charity.”

  Cllr. Connaughton took a defamation action against the Castlerea man. The trial was due to take place last Friday morning in Roscommon Circuit Court, but was settled that morning.

  Mr Flanagan flew back from Brussels, where he now lives, to attend the court, while Cllr. Connaughton was also present.

  The matter came before Judge Doirbhile Flanagan, but counsel for both sides said that, for the first time, discussions were taking place between both parties, and that those discussions had “rapidly made progress”.

  They requested further time for negotiations and, after three hours, the court was told that a settlement had been agreed.

  An apology on behalf of Mr Flanagan was read out.

  “On October 10, 2014, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan MEP posted comments on his Facebook page, which referred to remarks made by Ivan Connaughton in the Roscommon Herald on February 1, 2011, under the byline ‘the gloves are off’,” it read.

  “In hindsight, Mr Flanagan accepts that he misinterpreted the comments made by Mr Connaughton and is happy to correct the record in this regard.

  “Mr Flanagan apologises to Mr Connaughton for any hurt caused.”

  The matter will come before County Registar Fintan Murphy at the Circuit Court on March 7 to ensure that the terms of the settlement, including the payment and legal costs, have been adhered to.

  Cllr. Connaughton said that he was “delighted” with the outcome.

  “The case was resolved to my satisfaction,” he said. “I am happy that I have got an apology from Mr Flanagan in relation to the allegations made against me on Facebook on the morning of the by-election.

  “I am equally as happy that my legal fees will be paid. The only payment made to me will be money given to a charity of my choice.”

  Cllr. Connaughton was an unsuccessful candidate in the election, losing out to Michael Fitzmaurice, whom ‘Ming’ backed to succeed him in the Dáil.