Wicklow County Council fined €355,000

 Friday 25th October

A fine of €355,000 plus costs of over €95,000 was imposed on Wicklow County Council today (Friday 25th October) by Judge Desmond Hogan in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.  Following commencement of the trial on June 10th last, Wicklow County Council, on the ninth day of the trial, entered guilty pleas to three breaches of health and safety legislation.

Wicklow County Council pleaded guilty to contravening Section 8(1) of the Safety, Health and Welfare Act of 2005 contrary to Section 77(2)(a) of the Safety, Health and Welfare Act of 2005. The second charge pleaded guilty to was under Section 20(5) of the Safety, Health and Welfare Act of 2005 contrary to Section 77(2)(a). The third charge was again under Section 8(1) of the Safety, Health and Welfare Act of 2005 contrary to Section 77(2)(a). A fourth charge was dropped by the DPP.

The case arose following an investigation into a fatal incident resulting in the death of two fire-fighters, Mr Mark Shaughnessy and Mr Brian Murray, on September 26th 2007 in Bray.

The fatal incident occurred after some some welding work had been undertaken at a disused/derelict building at the junction of Adelaide Villas and St. Laurence Terrace just off the Lower Dargle Road in Bray, Co. Wicklow. These works had been undertaken to secure an external steel sliding door and thus prevent unauthorised fly tipping into the building. The welding works, involving sparks, caused debris materials to smoulder inside the building leading to a fire developing some 20 minutes after the welding works had been completed.

The fire was observed by a Council worker passing by the location. Bray Fire Brigade were alerted and they arrived at the scene and attempted to extinguish the fire. The two fire-fighters died whilst battling the fire.

The Health and Safety Authority, alongside Gardai, undertook an extensive investigation into the matter which led to Wicklow County Council being prosecuted in relation to health and safety breaches.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority said, “This case highlights the importance of having safe systems of work and up-dated safety statements in place as well as appropriate training for the work being carried out. It is vitally important that every employer ensures, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees