John Waters claimed Kitty Holland may have been used as tool by 'unscrupulous interests'

John Waters Claimed Kitty Holland May Have Been Used As Tool By 'Unscrupulous Interests'
John Waters claimed Kitty Holland may have been used as a tool by 'unscrupulous interests' Photo: Collins
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Ray Managh

Irish Times reporter Kitty Holland, who broke the story of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar 12 years ago, permitted her senior counsel Andrew Walker to publicly reveal in the Circuit Civil Court on Tuesday that she had already had an abortion.

Mr Walker, cross-examining Holland’s former friend and colleague John Waters in her €75,000 defamation action against him, told Judge John O’Connor that Ms Holland had given him clear instructions she was “happy for it to be brought out.”


Counsel was referring to a paragraph in a 100-page “personal defence” letter written in March 2019 by Waters to Holland’s solicitors, Lavelle Partners, in which he stated she may have been used as a tool by unscrupulous interests inside and outside the Irish Times which had published her initial article.

“I did not accuse Kitty Holland of personal dishonesty but I do believe she has become embroiled in the telling of an enormous untruth that has had, and will continue to have, disastrous consequences for Irish society and in particular for its unborn children who have been stripped of the most fundamental protections as a result of that untruth,” Mr Waters, of Sandycove, Dublin had written.

“I believe that Kitty Holland, who is in many respects a sincere and decent person, may have been used as a tool by unscrupulous interests, inside and outside the Irish Times, seeking to bring about precisely this outcome,” he went on in his letter.

He said his use of the word lie, which he stated he had made in a keynote address to a Renua conference, had been directed at those people and the fact that they had used Holland, “a woman who, as we have since learned, had already had an abortion,” to advance their agenda by persuading her to become the initiator/facilitator of “this systematic falsehood.”


He had stated their objective was to deceive the public and the world about the meaning of the Halappanavar story, and they had been overwhelmingly successful in this nefarious aim.

He and Holland, of Ranelagh, Dublin, had been passionate advocates on either side of a crucial life or death public debate and, as such, each in her and his own way had simply sought to conduct a discussion capable of enabling the people to make up their own minds on a most difficult, complex and emotive subject.

“But is one of us obliged to fight with his hands tied and his mouth gagged” Waters had asked in the letter in which his counsel Feargal Cavanagh SC told the court his client had mostly based his defence to a case that, Mr Waters said, threatened him with bankruptcy.

Waters had stated that Holland had emerged on the winning side of the argument, her front-page Irish Times scoop having become a crucial element in the armoury of weapons used to overwhelm and disintegrate public support for the Eighth Amendment.


“Now, not content with her 'victory', she seeks to eliminate the truth and seek financial penalty from one of those few who sought to speak it,” he stated.

Kitty Holland had been one of the most visible advocates of a radical, unprecedented change in the status quo which he had sought to defend.

He had been referring to a difference of understanding, perspective or opinion that had been already well ventilated in public debate using such terms as and including the concept of dishonesty and ‘a lie’ that had already been bandied about by many protagonists including Kitty Holland.

Waters had written that the context of his remarks was immediately comprehensible and had not been, what the construction placed on it which the defamation action against him sought to suggest – that he was engaging in a personalised and malicious attack on Kitty Holland.


In another part of his letter he stated that in the relevant section of his Renua speech he had been criticising the media for having, in effect, weaponised the Savita Halappanavar story to prosecute the case for abortion and, in doing so, had created a lie they had refused to withdraw.

“I did not call Kitty Holland a liar. Had I sought to, I could and would have used very precise words to do so,” Waters stated in his letter. He said she had maintained a persistent silence as her “false” story had gone around the world dragging Ireland’s reputation of being one of the safest places for a pregnant woman in the mire.

“For all I know Kitty Holland may have known the full truth from the beginning and deliberately peddled a false story to promote her own favoured pro-abortion agenda,” his letter had stated. “ At the least, I believe she either tailored the story herself or saw it being tailored in the Irish Times editing process prior to publication and must have realised at an early stage that the story had become so heavily biased, sensationalised and economical with the truth that it did indeed constitute a lie,” he stated.

Mr Walker, who appeared with barrister Shane English, told Mr Waters that Ms Holland had brought the proceedings to clear her name and vindicate her reputation.


Mr Cavanagh, who appeared with barristers Conor Rubalcava and Greg Murphy along with Wicklow solicitor Brendan Maloney, told the court he would lead off on Wednesday with his legal submissions.

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