A SENIOR council official has said that there "was a very serious risk to loss of life" at a stand-off when a former council foreman threatened to set himself alight.
At an Employment Appeals Tribunal in Ennis, Co Clare, yesterday, Leonard Cleary of Clare Co Council said that his "immediate concern was preservation of life and this governed all of my actions".
Joseph Floyd Snr had a petrol can and lighter with him in his van as he staged a protest against the council hiring sub-contractors. At the tribunal yesterday, council representative Don Culliton said Mr Floyd threatened to set himself and council property alight.
However, Mr Floyd's representative, Gerald Kennedy, said that Mr Floyd would dispute that he made any threats.
In response to the stand-off, members of the armed Garda Regional Emergency Response Unit, local gardai and the Fire Service were called out.
Mr Floyd claims he was unfairly dismissed by the council after being found guilty of three counts of gross mis-conduct.
Council worker Sean O'Grady yesterday described the scene at Feakle in May 2011 as "fairly scary".
The stand-off only ended after Mr Floyd received a letter stating he had not lost his job.
But Mr Cleary, who was head of council's HR department at the time, said the letter had been written "under duress".
Mr Cleary added: "There was a serious risk to loss of life and priority was to get Mr Floyd out of the van. I would have said anything to have got him out of the van.
"We were dealing with a very tense, highly charged situation and the focus was to preserve life and to ensure that Mr Floyd didn't lose his life and that no one else lost their life."
Mr Cleary said he put Mr Floyd on administrative leave "out of concern for Mr Floyd's welfare". But Mr Cleary said the council had "serious concerns" after Mr Floyd spoke to Clare FM.
Mr Cleary said that Mr Floyd received a letter later that day from the council informing him that he was suspended from the work and that a disciplinary process would commence.
In September 2011, the council told Mr Floyd that he was sacked after finding him guilty of three charges of gross misconduct.
The hearing has been adjourned until next February.