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Plea for release of garda tapes in firemen tragedy

WICKLOW County Council's legal team has asked that recordings of phone calls made at Bray Garda Station during the investigation into the deaths of two firefighters be made available to their inquest.

However, gardai say that it is unlikely that any tapes exist.

The request for the tapes was made by senior counsel Luan O Braonain before the Dublin coroner at a mention of the inquest into the deaths of Bray firefighters Brian Murray and Mark O'Shaughnessy.

The inquest into their deaths is set to resume later this week having already heard 11 days of evidence.

VIOLATIONS

Mr Murray (46) and Mr O'Shaughnessy (25) died as they fought a blaze at a disused ink factory at Adelaide Villas in Bray, Co Wicklow, on September 26, 2007.

Last October, Wicklow County Council, the local fire authority, was fined €355,000 after pleading guilty to health and safety violations.

Mr O Braonain said that since the inquest adjourned in March, there had been information in the media that telephone recording was taking place at garda district headquarters in various locations. He claimed Bray was such a headquarters.

He said one must know "that there are telephone calls of discussions between members of An Garda Siochana and members of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA)".

He said this related to arrangements being made for the preservation of the scene; its examination; the arrest of individuals in Wicklow County Council; searches of the council; the engagement of experts for inspection of the scene; forensic analysis; the cause of the fire and its consequences.

However, Detective Garda Maurice Hickey told the court that Bray was not made a division headquarters until 2008.

He said it was his understanding calls made by the general public into the control room at the station were recorded, but that this ceased when calls where transferred elsewhere within the station.

Mr O Braonain also made a similar request from the HSA for any calls recorded relating to their investigation. However, in response, HSA inspector Kevin Broderick said that "there are no recordings".

The inquest was abruptly adjourned in March during the evidence of Michael Slattery, a fire investigator who inspected the scene for the council.

He had been giving evidence on a theory that the men may have died as a result of a flammable canister exploding, however gardai disputed his view of the canister's location.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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