Council to meet union over firemen’s deaths

TRADE union officials will meet Wicklow County Council today for the first time since it emerged the local authority is likely to be prosecuted over the deaths of two firemen in Bray in September 2007.

The meeting, between SIPTU officials and the council, also comes a week after the trade union’s vice-president, Patricia King, wrote to Environment Minister Phil Hogan seeking to determine whether there was now a need for a full public inquiry into the tragic deaths of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy.

The two men worked at Bray fire station and were among those tending to a raging fire at a disused factory in the town on September 26, 2007, when a roof collapsed, killing them.

Since their deaths there have been a number of claims made regarding alleged systematic failures within Wicklow Fire Service in advance of the incident.

The Health and Safety Authority has concluded its investigation into the deaths of 46-year-old Brian Murray and 26-year-old Mark O’Shaughnessy and passed its findings on to gardaí.

The Garda investigation has resulted in a file being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Earlier this month the families of both men were informed that Wicklow County Council was likely to face prosecution, but it is understood no individual will be prosecuted, a development criticised by the families.

Today’s meeting between SIPTU and the local authority will centre on existing concerns relating to the operation of the fire service in the county, including claims that retained fire fighters were not called in sufficient time to deal with fires which then spread, causing further damage and greater threat to public safety.

SIPTU sector organiser Michael Wall will lead the talks for the trade union.

The recently formed Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) has also called for a fresh independent inquiry.

It also raised concerns over aspects of fire emergency response services elsewhere in the country.

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