Illegal dump case: Authorised council officer branded a liar

Donal Ó Laoire labelled a perjurer by retired Wicklow county manager Eddie Sheehy

An authorised officer of Wicklow County Council, Donal Ó Laoire, has been branded a liar and a perjurer by the man for whom he used to work, retired Wicklow county manager Eddie Sheehy.

In the High Court on Tuesday, Mr Sheehy denied being part of a cover-up inside Wicklow County Council.

The alleged cover-up was to hide the council's alleged involvement in a plan that a private company, which Mr Ó Laoire says he set up at the suggestion of senior Wicklow official Michael Nicholson, would be awarded a contract by the council to clean up the largest illegal dump discovered in the State to date.

Mr Sheehy was giving evidence in a case brought by Brownfield Restoration (Ireland) Limited, current owners of the dump site at Whitestown in west Wicklow, against Wicklow County Council.


Proper standard

The company is alleging the council has failed to remediate the dump to a proper standard, as it committed to do at an earlier High Court hearing.

Mr Ó Laoire now works for the United Nations but remains technically an authorised officer of the council.

Last week, he agreed when it was put to him that the plan, advanced by him in a report for the council dated April 5th, 2002, and which he tried to implement for much of the remainder of that year, was corrupt.

He said he was acting “under the direction of Wicklow County Council, and under the control and full knowledge of Wicklow County Council”.

He said Mr Sheehy was “up to his neck in corruption”.

On Tuesday, Mr Sheehy told counsel for Brownfield, Peter Bland SC, that when he read these allegations in The Irish Times, he was "appalled" and "shocked".

"My response to them simply is, Mr Ó Laoire is a liar. He is a perjurer. By his own admission in The Irish Times last week, he admitted he had committed corruption in relation to this matter," said Mr Sheehy.

‘Totally inconsistent’

“The account of matters being given by Mr Ó Laoire is untrue. It’s totally inconsistent with evidence he gave to the [Garda] National Bureau of Criminal Investigation when he gave statements to them and it’s totally inconsistent with the evidence which he gave to the High Court in 2009 in relation to this matter. And I just reiterate, it’s not true.”

Mr Bland pressed Mr Sheehy on the extent of his knowledge of the council’s own use of the illegal dump, and why he did not tell Mr Ó Laoire the extent of this.

He was pressed also on his alleged instruction to Mr Ó Laoire to desist with his company plan, which he continued formulating throughout 2002, to deal with the dump.

‘Whole truth’

He asked Mr Sheehy whether he had always told the “whole truth”. It took years, said Mr Bland, for Mr Sheehy to admit that some of the tens of thousands of tons of waste the council dumped at the site was hazardous and not inert, as claimed.

“Why would you not tell the whole truth rather than selective arguments?” he asked of Mr Sheehy’s evidence in sworn affidavits and at a High Court hearing in 2009.

“You are selective in evidence, you are being economical with the truth.”

“I don’t accept that,” replied Mr Sheehy.

Mr Bland accused him of “filling the air with words” but not answering questions about what he knew, and when.

Mr Sheehy defended his record, saying he had made Wicklow “a no-go area” for illegal dumpers.

The case continues.

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh is a contributor to The Irish Times