Gardaí seize council files in firefighter death probes

The offices of Wicklow County Council were raided today by gardaí investigating the deaths of two part-time firefighters.

Mark O’Shaughnessy, 26, and Brian Murray, 46, were killed when the roof of a disused building in Bray collapsed on them in September 2007.

It is understood a team of officers were attempting to recover files and computer data.

The families of the two firefighters have been fighting for reform of the fire services in the county since the men’s deaths.

Darren Murphy, a spokesman for the O’Shaughnessy and Murray families, claimed the move by gardaí to search the council offices vindicated their ongoing battle for justice.

“We are delighted with the progress gardaí are making, we have complete faith in them,” said Mr Murphy.

Referring to the events surrounding the firefighters’ deaths he said: “It was systemic failure on part of the county council and on part of the fire service and we believe this search is backing that up.”

Gardaí said the searches began shortly after 10am at the complex in Wicklow town and continued throughout the day.

The Health and Safety Authority said it was aware of the operation and was co-operating with the investigation.

An inquest into the men’s death has been adjourned several times at Dublin County Coroner’s Court and is not due to be heard again until November.

Three people have been arrested and questioned by gardaí over the blaze, including at least one senior fire officer.

The families of the dead firefighters believe there was a delay in responding to the blaze on Lower Dargle Road as it was out of control by the time the two men arrived at the scene.

Mr Murray, a 10-year veteran of Bray’s retained fire service, had warned superiors just three weeks before his death of dangerous practices in the service.

He wrote to the county’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Joanne O’Connor, after office workers were asked to check a blaze themselves before firefighters were called out.

Sinn Féin’s John Brady welcomed the search but called for an independent inquiry into the deaths.

“We firmly believe that the current investigation will not get to the heart of what is rotten in the fire services here in Wicklow,” the county councillor said.

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