Builders fined for fatal wall collapse

A building company has been fined €250,000 for breaching construction regulations which resulted in the collapse of wall at a Longford DIY store three years ago, killing two men and injuring two others.

Paddy Gaffney, 63, and Sean Mulleady, 49, died when an internal wall at the former Connacht Gold premises, Farneyhoogan, Athlone Rd, Longford, collapsed on January 29, 2013.

Vincent Ruane Construction Limited was charged with breaching safety, health, and welfare at work regulations by failing to provide restraints at the head and end of an internal block wall.

Vincent Ruane, a company director at the Co Mayo-based firm, pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to the offence at dates unknown between January 23, 2012, and March 31, 2012.

The court was told that there were four employees on site at the time, along with four customers and a sales representative, when the wall collapsed on January 29, 2013.

Both Mr Mulleady and Mr Gaffney were taken to the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar but died later that evening from their injuries.

In a victim impact statement on behalf of her mother Patsy, Denise Nolan, a daughter of the late Mr Gaffney, told the court that her father had survived a back operation and a triple heart surgery and also beaten cancer before tragedy struck three years ago.

On the day of the incident, Patsy Gaffney had been waiting in the car for her husband when she was alerted to an incident inside the store.

She found her husband surrounded by debris, sitting upright with blood pouring from a head wound.

“He was able to tell me that he ‘wasn’t going to make it this time’,” she said.

On behalf of Mr Mulleady’s wife Teresa, her sister Eileen Sorohan said instead of receiving flowers from her husband on New Year’s’ Day, she now puts them on his grave.

Judge Hannon said the maximum fine the court could hand down was €3m.

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