Man at centre of Dublin mountains road closure row in talks with insurers

Ghandhi Mallak could potentially face imprisonment and a multi-million-euro fine

The scene of subsidence on Edmondstown Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The scene of subsidence on Edmondstown Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A Syrian restaurant owner, whose allegedly unlawful site excavations are claimed to have led to the closure of a roadway to the Dublin mountains is engaged in talks with his insurers about indemnifying him, a court has heard.

Ghandhi Mallak could potentially face imprisonment as well as a multi-million-euro fine.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane was told in the Circuit Civil Court that Mr Mallak’s insurers had not made clear they were going to indemnify him for the repair and reinstatement of a stretch of Edmondstown Road, Rathfarnham, which for safety reasons has been closed to all bar cyclists and pedestrians since November last.

Mr Mallak, who came to Ireland in 2001 and now runs the Damascus Gate Syrian and Lebanese restaurant in Upper Camden Street, Dublin, was stated by his barrister Proinsias Ó Maolchalain to be developing an agricultural area at the site of the excavations for the purpose of producing specific food produce for his restaurant.

South Dublin County Council closed the road in November last after excavations at the Rockbrook site, between the Edmondstown Road and the Owendoher River embankment, led to fears it might collapse.

Stephen Dodd, counsel for the local authority, told Judge Linnane that an Enforcement Notice had been served on Mr Mallak on November 15th, 2017 requiring emergency remedial work by him to reinstate the roadway but nothing had been done in over seven months.

South Dublin County Council could, on foot of non-compliance with the enforcement notice, bring a criminal prosecution which could result in imprisonment and a €12.7 million fine.

Mr Dodd said South Dublin County Council had decided to proceed by way of a planning injunction seeking court orders directing Mr Mallak to carry out the work immediately. The council, which had already spent €60,000 on works, believed the road may remain closed for the remainder of the year unless Mr Mallak was ordered to undertake remedial work.

Mr O Maolchalain asked the court for an adjournment to allow his client file sworn affidavits setting out his replies to statements already lodged in court by council engineers and officials.

Judge Linnane said the works carried out by Mr Mallak were unauthorised and had led to the destabilisation of the roadway. He had been fully appraised of the situation since November last year and was fully aware of the urgency of the required emergency remedial work. She said there was no dispute that Mr Mallak was in breach of the planning laws. A contractor could be appointed by him and she did not see the purpose of further delay.

Mr O Maolchalain said he had just received instructions in the matter only on Tuesday following the court granting the local authority short service of proceedings against his client. He felt it would be unfair if the court was to make mandatory orders before Mr Mallak had an opportunity to put his side of the story before the court.

After Mallak had given a sworn undertaking that he would remove a metal tank from the site and would swear an affidavit outlining his situation, Judge Linnane adjourned the proceedings until July 13th.