Firefighters inquest seeks tapes of calls to Garda station

Wicklow County Council’s legal team has asked that recordings of phone calls made at Bray Garda Station during the investigation into the deaths of two firefighters be made available to their inquest.

However, gardaí say it is unlikely that any tapes exist.

The request for the tapes was made by Luán Ó Braonáin before the Dublin coroner at a mention of the inquest into the deaths of Bray firefighters Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy. The inquest into their deaths is set to resume this week having already heard 11 days of evidence.

Mr Murray, aged 46, and Mr O’Shaughnessy, aged 25, died as they fought a blaze at a disused ink factory at Adelaide Villas in Bray on September 26, 2007. Last October, Wicklow County Council, the local fire authority, was fined €355,000 after pleading guilty to health and safety violations in relation to the incident.

Mr Ó Braonáin said that, since the inquest adjourned in March, there has been information in the media that phone recording was taking place at Garda district headquarters in various locations. He claimed Bray was such a headquarters.

He said: “One can anticipate and one must know that there are telephone calls of discussions between members of An Garda Síochána and members of the Health and Safety Authority in relation to the arrangements being made for the preservation of the scene; for the examination of the scene; for the arrest of individuals in Wicklow County Council; for searches of Wicklow County Council; for the engagement of experts in relation to inspection of the scene, forensic analysis of the scene; in relation to what caused the fire; what were the consequences of the fire in terms of the unfortunate outcome for the deceased whose deaths are being investigated at the inquest”

Detective Garda Maurice Hickey told the court Bray was not made a division headquarters until 2008. He said it was his understanding that calls made by the general public into the control room were recorded but ceased being recorded when transferred elsewhere within the station.

Mr Ó Braonáin also made a similar request from the HSA for any calls recorded relating to its investigation. HSA inspector Kevin Broderick said that “there are no recordings”.

The inquest was abruptly adjourned in March during the evidence of Michael Slattery, a fire investigator who inspected the scene on behalf of the council. Mr Slattery had been giving evidence on a theory put forward by the council that the men may have died as a result of a flammable canister being disturbed and exploding.

Mr Slattery found the canister near the area where the men were found when he inspected the site the day after the fire. However, his evidence was interrupted by Det Garda Hickey, who told the court the canister was not in the same position in garda pictures taken immediately following the fire.

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