Firefighter wins challenge to dismissal from Castlerea Fire Station

Roscommon County Council said firefighter breached obligation to live within two-mile radius

A firefighter has won his legal challenge over a decision to dismiss him.

Sean Callaghan, a part-time retained firefighter based at Castlerea Fire Station, sued his employer, Roscommon County Council, over its decision last month to terminate his employment.

The council claimed he had breached his contractual obligation to live within a two-mile radius of the fire station.

Mr Callaghan rejected that claim and brought High Court proceedings alleging the decision to dismiss him was "absurd", "without merit" and made "in flagrant disregard" of his rights to fair procedures and natural justice.


He claimed he was “treated appallingly” by the council which, he alleged, had failed to provide him or his lawyers with any proof or evidence he was living outside the two-mile radius.

Temporary injunction

Mr Callaghan (39), Kilkeevan Park, Castlerea, last month secured a temporary High Court injunction preventing his purported dismissal.

On Tuesday, Marguerite Bolger SC, instructed by Purdy Fitzgerald Solicitors, for Mr Callaghan, told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan the action has settled.

Counsel said the council was consenting to declarations including that Mr Callaghan’s purported dismissal was null and void and he continues to be employed by the council as a part-time retained firefighter in Castlerea unless and until his employment is lawfully terminated.

The judge agreed to strike out the matter on the terms agreed.

Previously, in his sworn statement seeking the injunction, Mr Callaghan said he was told on June 22nd the council was not satisfied he was living within the two-mile radius of the station as required under his contract of employment.

He said no reasons were provided for not accepting he lived at Kilkeevan Park, nor had the council said where it thought he lived.

He had last March provided the council with documents including a utility bill, bank statement, driver’s licence and the relevant eircode details for Kilkeevan Park. He did this after his employer wrote to all firefighters requesting evidence of compliance with the obligation to live within two miles of the station.

He did not hear from the council until June when it informed him he was to be dismissed, he said.

‘Shocked and appalled’

He was “shocked and appalled” at the decision and alleged the council had bypassed numerous procedural safeguards, denied him a right to appeal and any opportunity to challenge the basis on which he had been dismissed.

He has worked as a part-time firefighter in Castlerea since 2007 and has an exemplary disciplinary record, but has been engaged in a unrelated disciplinary matter which is ongoing, he said.

If the dismissal was upheld, he feared he would be left “in a perilous state as he had a mortgage to pay, is engaged to be married and would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain alternative employment as a firefighter”.