Firefighters’ association calls for resignation of Wicklow county manager

Statement following trial over fatal blaze criticised by Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association

John Kidd,  national secretary of the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association, who  has described comments by the Wicklow county manager as a ‘disgrace’. Photograph:  Collins Courts.

John Kidd, national secretary of the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association, who has described comments by the Wicklow county manager as a ‘disgrace’. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Fri, Jun 21, 2013, 15:35

The head of a body representing firefighters has called for the resignation of Wicklow county manager Eddie Sheehy in the wake of the council’s trial for health and safety breaches following a fire in which two firefighters died.

Wicklow County Council this week pleaded guilty in the middle of its trial to criminal health and safety violations relating to the death of two firefighters in Bray six years ago.

Brian Murray (46) and Mark O’Shaughnessy (26) died fighting a blaze at a disused ink factory at Adelaide Villas in Bray on September 26th, 2007.

The council will be sentenced on July 30th at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court when it faces fines of up to €3 million.

John Kidd, national secretary of the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association called on the county manager to resign and said he believed the widely reported comments were a “disgrace”.

Defence counsel Aileen Donnelly SC expressed “the sincere regret” of the council for the breaches after the trial concluded yesterday.

A statement read outside the court on behalf of the council added: “Importantly however, the amendment to count No. 1 acknowledges that the deaths of Sub-Officer Brian Murray and Firefighter Mark O’Shaughnessy were not as a consequence of the breaches of the Act of 2005.”

It extended its “deepest sympathy” to the families of the deceased men, describing them as “dedicated and brave firefighters”.

Mr Kidd said he had no criticism of gardaí and the Health and Safety Authority who had done an “excellent” job.

However, he questioned the extent of the co-operation from Wicklow County Council.

Renewing his organisation’s call for a national fire and ambulance service, Mr Kidd said that if services continued to be implemented as they were, more lives would be lost - “not only firefighters but members of the public”.

He criticised what he said was the high number of managers in the State’s service relative to the number of firefighters and said changes such as joint procurement between the Republic and the North would save money.