Trial date over firemen deaths due by year-end

A COURT case against Wicklow County Council over the deaths of two firemen in Bray in 2007 is likely to be heard in December.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has levelled four charges against the local authority over the deaths of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy as they battled a fire at a disused factory on Adelaide Villas in the town almost four years ago.

Mr Murray, 46, and 26-year-old Mr O’Shaughnessy died when a roof collapsed on top of them.

The matter came before Judge Murrough Connellan in Wicklow District Court yesterday with members of both men’s families in attendance.

State solicitor Seamus A Doyle told the judge he wished for the matter to proceed on indictment and requested time to prepare a book of evidence.

A legal representative, for Wicklow County Council consented to the setting of October 11 next as the date for the serving of the book of evidence. The matter is then likely to move to the next available sitting of Wicklow Circuit Court which takes place in December.

The local authority faces four charges in relation to the men’s deaths.

The first charge is that between September 1, 2005, and September 27, 2007, inclusive, the county council failed to discharge its duties under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, under four separate headings, including:

- That it did not provide a system of work which laid down clear rules of engagement for structural firefighting based on acceptability of risk and proper risk assessment.

- Failure to ensure that firefighters were not exposed to unnecessary risk by not providing clear instruction that fire-fighters not commit to offensive firefighting operations within abandoned or derelict buildings.

- Did not ensure that sufficient assistance was available from a second tender within a reasonable period, including the failure to have an adequate plan to call for assistance from other brigades.

- Failed to establish and maintain an effective system of central control and communication.

The three other charges are under Section 77(2)(a) of the Safety, Health and welfare at Work Act 2005, including that the council failed to review its ‘Wicklow County Council Ancillary Safety Statement for Wicklow Fire Service’ when there was valid reason to believe it was “no longer as required” by another section of the act, and that there was a failure to identify the hazards and risks faced by firefighters in Bray Fire Station.

If found guilty of the alleged breaches of health and safety regulations the local authority faces fines of up to €3 million.

The families had previously expressed their disappointment that the case, was not brought against individuals as well as the local authority as an entity.

Picture: Mark O’Shaughnessy, left, and Brian Murray. Picture: PA

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