Wednesday 28 October 2009

Court told council failed to disclose Garda statements on Wicklow dump

COPIES OF Garda statements made by waste investigators at Wicklow County Council, as part of criminal proceedings relating to illegal dumping, were retained by the council which failed to disclose them in compliance with a High Court order, it has been alleged.

The High Court was also told that Wicklow county manager Eddie Sheehy was incorrect in his evidence to the court last July, when he said the council had not retained copies of the statements.

Mr Justice Daniel O’Keeffe was hearing a number of applications to strike out or dismiss an action by Wicklow County Council against the former owner of the Whitestown dump, John O’Reilly; Brownfield Restoration Ireland, which bought the lands from Mr O’Reilly in 2003; and two waste companies, Swalcliffe, trading as Dublin Waste, and Dean Waste.

In a counter-claim, Brownfield and Dean Waste allege the council was itself engaged in dumping and should bear the remediation costs.

At stake is a €60 million bill to clean up the Whitestown site and remove or treat large quantities of hospital and other hazardous waste and contaminated soil amounting to 1,140,000 tonnes.

Ian Finlay SC, for Brownfield Regeneration, said yesterday that Wicklow County Council had failed a number of times since December 2007 to make full discovery to the court of documents, diaries and electronic records which it either owned or was in a position to procure.

Mr Finlay told Mr Justice O’Keeffe his clients might never have seen the documents if the court had relied on Wicklow County Council’s initial response to the order for discovery.

While the council said a number of times it had made full discovery of all relevant papers, it had left out papers submitted by its environmental consultant Donal Ó Laoire, the Garda statements and other relevant documents, until after witness evidence began to be heard this July.

The court is expected to hear replying affidavits prepared by Mr Sheehy this morning.

Irish Times

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