Friday 11 September 2009

Councillors cannot get transcripts in Wicklow dump case

MEMBERS OF Wicklow County Council have been told they cannot have transcripts of evidence given to the High Court by county manager Eddie Sheehy.

Mr Sheehy’s evidence was given in a civil case taken by the county council against a number of waste operators and the current and former owners of an illegal dump at Whitestown quarry in west Wicklow. The cost of the clean up has been estimated to be as high as €60 million.

In a case listed to continue next month, the High Court is considering allegations that the council’s own contractor had dumped thousands of tonnes of highly polluting tar and bitumen at Whitestown, while council staff had carried out gate duties and directed lorry drivers to where they should dump.

The High Court is also considering allegations that senior management at the council was aware of Whitestown dump several years before the council announced its environmental staff had discovered it “by accident” in 2001.

Council chairman Pat Vance (FF) said transcripts could not be circulated. Instead, he circulated the opinion of two senior counsel advising that circulating the transcripts may lead to their contents falling into the wrong hands.

The council apologised to the court last month for circulating transcripts of the manager’s evidence to the council’s consultant on cleaning up the dumps, Donal Ó Laoire, in breach of a High Court undertaking.

At a council meeting there were angry exchanges as some 11 councillors voted in favour of suspending standing orders to discuss the case, while 10 councillors opposed the motion. The motion was not carried as it did not garner a required majority of two-thirds of members.

Irish Times

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