Gardaí raid council offices in probe into firefighters’ deaths

GARDAÍ yesterday raided the offices of Wicklow County Council as part of its probe into the deaths of two firefighters in Bray in 2007.

Computers and documents were taken from the local authority offices in the Garda operation, which took place just after 10am in Wicklow town.

The development is the latest in the investigation into the deaths of Mark O’Shaughnessy, 26, and 46-year-old Brian Murray as they battled a blaze at a disused factory on September 26, 2007. They were killed when a roof collapsed as they tried to quell the fire.

The families of both men have long called for an independent public inquiry into how the men died, and to investigate claims of systematic failures within Bray Fire Service.

There have also been claims that there was a delay in responding to the blaze on Lower Dargle Road, and that Mr Murray had warned his superiors – including the county’s assistant chief fire officer – of issues regarding the fire service in the weeks before his death.

A joint Garda/Health and Safety Authority (HSA) investigation has been under way since the deaths of the two firemen, who were both from Bray.

A spokesman for the HSA said yesterday it was aware of the raid yesterday and had co-operated with gardaí.

Yesterday’s activity will raise the possibility of future arrests or of a file being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

An investigation into the deaths by Wicklow County Council is still on-going, a spokesman for the local authority confirmed yesterday. He said it would be inappropriate to comment on the garda raid, which is understood to have been targeting material evidence.

A spokesman for the Murray and O’Shaughnessy families welcomed the latest developments.

Three people have been arrested and questioned in connection with the investigation in recent years, including in September 2008 when a man was questioned under the provisions of Section 13 of the Non-Fatal Offences against the Persons Act 1997 – reckless endangerment.

In recent weeks county manager Eddie Sheehy, among other people, was interviewed by Bray gardaí. Also in the past few weeks Seamus Walker, who retired as director of services for roads and infrastructure in the county last year, was rehired by the local authority to co-ordinate its investigations into the two deaths.

No one has yet been charged in relation to the fire deaths, while the Garda/HSA probe has involved trips to Britain and France by the investigating team as part of the technical examination of materials used on the day of the tragedy.

Various aspects of the tragedy have been looked at by the investigating teams, such as only one unit of the fire service being sent to the scene of the fire on the day.

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


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