Wednesday 28 September 2016

Firm fined €250,000 after falling wall killed two men

Liam Cosgrove

Published 15/07/2016 | 02:30

Vincent Ruane, a company director at the Co Mayo-based firm, pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to the offence at dates unknown between January 23, 2012 and March 31, 2012.Vincent Ruane, a company director at the Co Mayo-based firm, pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to the offence at dates unknown between January 23, 2012 and March 31, 2012. (stock photo)
Vincent Ruane, a company director at the Co Mayo-based firm, pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to the offence at dates unknown between January 23, 2012 and March 31, 2012.Vincent Ruane, a company director at the Co Mayo-based firm, pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to the offence at dates unknown between January 23, 2012 and March 31, 2012. (stock photo)

A company was fined €250,000 for breaching construction regulations before the collapse of a wall at a DIY store, killing two men and injuring two others.

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Paddy Gaffney (63) and Sean Mulleady (49) died when an internal wall at the former Connacht Gold premises, Farneyhoogan, Athlone Road, Longford collapsed on January 29, 2013.

Vincent Ruane Construction Limited was charged with breaching Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Regulations by failing to provide restraints at the head and end of an internal block wall.

Vincent Ruane, a company director at the Co Mayo-based firm, pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to the offence at dates unknown between January 23, 2012 and March 31, 2012.

The court was told there were four employees on site at the time along with four customers and a sales representative.

Both Mr Mulleady and Mr Gaffney were taken to the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar but died later.

Denise Nolan, a daughter of the late Mr Gaffney, told the court that her father had survived a back operation, triple heart surgery and beaten cancer before tragedy struck three years ago.

On the day of the incident, his wife Patsy Gaffney had been waiting in the car for her husband when she was alerted to an incident inside the store.

She found her husband surrounded by debris, sitting upright with blood pouring from a head wound.

"He was able to tell me that he 'wasn't going to make it this time'," the court heard.

On behalf of Mr Mulleady's wife Teresa, her sister Eileen Sorohan said instead of receiving flowers from her husband on New Year's Day, she now puts them on his grave.

Judge Hannon said there was conflicting evidence as to who was responsible for deciding to build the wall to the roof along with its supervision and design.

He said arguably the most compelling factor was evidence provided by a blocklayer who claimed he wasn't privy to plans in relation to the detail that was needed to be followed in its construction.

Judge Hannon said the maximum fine the court could hand down was a fine of €3m.

However, taking into account the company's plea and the fact the firm was "asset rich but cash poor", he said the penalty handed down "must be realistic".

"Don't think that the fine reflects in any way the value of the lives that have been lost," he told the victims' families.

Irish Independent

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