Daily Ireland court action over Nazi slur

The
publishers of Belfast-based crossborder paper Daily Ireland this week
took Irish justice minister Michael McDowell to the High Court over
claims he made in January when he likened them to Nazis.

Managing
director of the paper, Mairtin O’Muilleoir, is suing for libel over
McDowell’s claims, made a month before Daily Ireland launched.

McDowell’s
barrister told Belfast High Court that the action should not be allowed
to proceed because the minister has state immunity.

Daily Ireland’s lawyer argued that the comments from McDowell had raised the risk of assassination for staff.

Michael
Lavery, QC, said: “It isn’t a very big jump that, by identifying Mr
O’Muilleoir and Mr Livingstone [another director] in the way that he
has, it is bound to heighten the possibility of risk to them.”

In
January, McDowell compared Daily Ireland to the Nazi Party daily paper,
Völkischer Beobachter, and he also said: “We are being invited into the
Orwellian nightmare of the Provo parallel universe where truth becomes
falsehood, where words mean only what the speaker wishes them to mean
and where common humanity is expendable in pursuit of insatiable
ideology.”

Judgment at the High Court was reserved.

■ Daily
Ireland, which initially concentrated on covering Ulster, has expanded
its southern Ireland coverage. David Lynch has been appointed Dublin
correspondent, and last month the paper started a second edition with a
separate front page for the Dublin market.

Launch editor Maria McCourt has moved to edit sister weekly South Belfast News, and has been replaced by Colin O’Carroll.

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