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Limerick's Legal Duel Unfurls: Defamation Battle in the Limelight |

Limerick’s Legal Duel Unfurls: Defamation Battle in the Limelight

In a courtroom drama echoing through the hallowed halls of the Four Courts, King’s Bench Division, a defamation case has taken centre stage. The protagonists in this legal duel are Mr John Jones, a substantial farmer and District Councillor hailing from Kilteely, Co. Limerick, and Mr William Whelan, a labourer and old-age pensioner residing in Kilteely. The echoes of a tumultuous past resurfaced as Whelan sought £500 in damages for alleged slander uttered during a District Council meeting.

Represented by Mr Michael Comyn, instructed by Mr J. Power, B.A., solicitor, Jones applied for the case to be remitted to the County Court of Limerick. The genesis of the legal tussle lies in words exchanged during a heated moment at the District Council. Jones, rebuking another District Councillor, uttered remarks insinuating that Whelan was a murderer and a highway robber. The defendant, when prompted to withdraw the statement, defiantly declared his intention for the press to take note, emphasizing his belief that Whelan was brought into the Boardroom by Mr Moloney.

Whelan, vehemently refuting the accusations, detailed in his affidavit that he had never engaged in robbery. He unravelled a tragic incident from forty-seven years prior, a faction fight between three-year-olds and four-year-olds that led to a man’s death. Whelan found himself arrested, convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to ten years of penal servitude, eventually being liberated after seven years and eleven months. He claimed to have offered Jones an opportunity for a public apology, which was allegedly spurned.

In response, Jones, in his affidavit, justified his comments as a retort made during a spirited discussion at the Kilmallock Boardroom. He claimed that Mr Moloney had, on a previous occasion, brought into the Boardroom and supported an individual convicted of killing another man, resulting in a ten-year penal servitude sentence. Jones asserted that he withdrew his observations at the same meeting and expressed regret for referring to Whelan in the heat of the moment. Jones adamantly denied labelling Whelan a robber and argued that the unfortunate incident in Whelan’s past was common knowledge.

During the legal proceedings, Mr Comyn sought to waive privileges related to correspondence between solicitors, aiming to present letters as evidence. However, Mr Phelps, representing the opposing party and instructed by P. S. and Co., objected, leading the judge, Mr Justice Boyd, to rule against the admission of the letters. The culmination of the legal saga saw Mr Justice Boyd rejecting the motion to remit the action, awarding costs against the defendant. The courtroom’s echoes may fade, but the repercussions of this legal duel will linger in the city of Limerick.

Dublin Daily Express – Tuesday 16 June 1914

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