Friday, 21 June 2013

Heads must roll and lessons need to be learnt following the Guilty Plea relating to the deaths of Wicklow Firefighters

Sinn Féin County councillor John Brady has stated that there need to
be accountability and lessons need to be learnt from the deaths of
Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy who died fighting a blaze at a
factory at Adelaide Villas in Bray on September 26th, 2007. Wicklow
County Council has pleaded guilty in the middle of court proceedings
against it relating to criminal health and safety violations relating
to the death of two fire-fighters in Bray six years ago.

The Sinn Féin councillor and long-time campaigner on the fire service
stated “I am a firm believer in the saying that justice delayed is
justice denied, so after nearly six long and agonising years the
families of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaugnessy and I heard the words
that we had waited so long to hear, after 8 days of the trial against
Wicklow County Council relating to the men’s deaths the Council
changed their plea to guilty”.

Cllr Brady continued “After sitting through a number of days in the
court listening to the evidence against the Council I believe the
outcome of the case was inevitable. It does raise the question however
as to why the council dragged their heals for so long during the
investigation and why after putting the families and witnesses through
the harrowing ordeal of having to relive the events of 26 September
2007 again. One must remember that to get it to court the
investigation had been severely hampered and obstacles thrown in the
way. This culminated in a raid of Wicklow County Council on 23
February 2010 by the Gardaí, in conjunction with the Health and Safety
Authority; they removed computers and files from the Council offices.
It followed several arrests including that of the Chief Fire Officer
and his two assistants”.

“I believe that senior officials in the council including the County
Manager Eddie Sheehy failed to fully cooperate with the investigation,
this culminated in him being taken into custody for questioning on 11
May 2010. Ultimately in any organisation there needs to be
accountability and Wicklow County Council should be no different. They
have now pleaded guilty to 3 charges relating to the deaths of Brian
and Mark and contrary to the councils spin they were not cleared of
any charges which lead to the men’s deaths. I believe that Eddie
Sheehy’s position at the head of the organisation that presided over
the deaths of 2 of its workers is now untenable and he must
immediately resign”.

Cllr Brady went onto say “In 2005 I stood on a picket line with Brian
Murray after he led a walk out of the fire station in Bray in an
attempt to highlight the serious health and safety breeches that
existed in the service. These included the vetting of emergency calls,
inadequate training and shortage of personal being despatched to call
outs. Unfortunately he predicted someone would die because of those
issues, little was he to know that 2 years later both he and his
colleague Mark would be the victims, not of some tragic accident but
as I believe a result of the policies of the council which were
implemented as cost saving measures. Their deaths need not have
happened if the council and indeed other councillors had listened to
the concerns of the Brian and indeed me in 2005”.

The Sinn Féin councillor concluded “Lessons need to be learnt from the
deaths of Brian and Mark. I am now calling on the Minister of the
Environment Phil Hogan to honour a commitment given by John Gormley
who was the relevant Minister at the time of the deaths of Brian and
Mark and to hold a public enquiry into the fire service in Wicklow. He
stated that once all the investigations were finished and any criminal
proceedings held, the issue would be looked at. I believe that such an
investigation would result in the control of the fire service being
removed from local authorities and placed under the remit of a
National Fire Authority and more importantly issues such as the need
for a full time service for Bray being addressed”. Ends

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