Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell did not abuse Dáil privilege when he linked two Sinn Féin TDs to the murder of prison officer Brian Stack, a Dáil committee has found.
The Dáil’s committee on procedures and privileges held a vote on Wednesday to determine whether the comments made by Mr Farrell breached standing orders.
The committee was asked to consider whether Mr Farrell abused his privilege when he named Dessie Ellis and Martin Ferris in the Dáil in December 2016 in relation to the killing of Mr Stack, who was shot in 1983 and died 18 months later, and asked both men to make statements on the incident.
Fine Gael and Labour members of the committee supported Mr Farrell , while Sinn Féin members and a number of Independents insisted he broke the House rules.
Mr Farrell, a Dublin Fingal TD, said after the vote it was his “firm belief” that he did not abuse Dáil privilege in naming the two Deputies.
Opinion given by the parliamentary legal adviser Ramona Quinn had advised the committee that the comments were defamatory.
The legal advice, seen by the Irish Times, says Mr Farrell’s comments “at [their] highest point” could be interpreted as “implicating the named Deputies in the murder of Mr Stack”.
“Alternatively, they could be construed as indicating that the relevant Deputies hold information in relation to said murder.”
The comments were not defamatory in themselves, but may have a secondary meaning which amounts to “defamatory innuendo”, the advice says.