Company that took over illegal dump firms is operating unlawfully

Wers Waste does not have a permit for the waste facility it operates near Tuam

Jim Ferry is facing a potential prison term for failing to comply with a High Court order to clean up an illegal dump he has been operating near Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

The company which Donegal businessman Jim Ferry, who is facing jail over an illegal dump, says has taken over his waste collection business is itself operating illegally.

Mr Ferry is facing a potential prison term for failing to comply with a High Court order last April to clean up an illegal dump he has been operating at Rossbracken near Letterkenny.

Last Friday, Mr Justice Max Barrett, who described the case as "revolting", gave Mr Ferry until August 22nd to comply with the order, saying he faced a "lengthy jail sentence" if he failed to do so.

The following day, a fire broke out inside a shed at Rossbracken, stuffed with waste that Mr Ferry had been told to remove. The shed was partly destroyed.


Prior to the High Court action against him, Mr Ferry's companies, Ferry's Refuse Collection Limited and Ferry's Refuse Recycling Limited, dealt with waste from nearly 11,000 households and 500 businesses in Donegal. A phone answering machine at his office now tells callers that the businesses are "trading as Wers Waste".

The Irish Times has established that Wers Waste of Tuam, Co Galway, does not have a permit for the waste facility it operates at Weir Road Business Park, Airgloony near Tuam.

Wers, an acronym for Wheely Environmental Refuse Services Limited, claims to operate “under licence from the local authority”, according to its website.


Wers Waste has a waste collection permit, number NWCPO-09-03608-06, which was issued, as all collection permits are, by the Waste Collection Permit Office in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

This permit allows the company to operate in every county in the State, collecting a wide range of material including municipal waste, construction and demolition waste, and other material such as wood, glass, plastic, paper and cardboard.

Prior to expanding into Donegal, Wers’s main focus was a wheelie-bin service covering north Galway, south Mayo and south Roscommon.

However, permits to operate a waste facility are issued by individual local authorities and Wers does not have one.

The company did not respond to email and telephone queries from The Irish Times.

A spokeswoman for Galway County Council confirmed that "Wers Waste do not have a valid waste facility permit in place at present". She added "Galway County Council do not use the facility at present."

It is understood, however, that the council, which is the statutory authority for waste management within Galway county as well as being the facility permit issuer, was itself a customer of the unlicensed facility until very recently.

It is believed the council stopped using the facility only after an intervention by the Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authority (Werla).

Werla’s function is to see that laws and regulations relating to waste disposal are enforced by local authorities and done so uniformly across the State. The authority has played a major role in moves against Mr Ferry.

It is believed that after Werla intervened with Galway County Council, an instruction was issued internally that the Wers Waste facility was not to be used any more by the council nor anyone contracted by it.

It is understood the council has initiated legal proceedings against Wers Waste which could result in the facility having to close.

Wers Waste’s website was updated late last week, and a letter to customers, published on the site and dated August 1st, appears to confirm Mr Ferry’s answering-machine message. The letter says Wers has “acquired the Ferry’s Refuse Household & Commercial Waste Collection service in Donegal”.

Galway County Council did not answer when asked when it ceased using the Wers Waste facility in Tuam and the circumstances of its learning it was illegal.

Donegal County Council’s case against Mr Ferry is back in court on August 22nd.

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh is a contributor to The Irish Times