City Council may face prosecution over blastJune 15, 2012 - 7:15am
BY ENDA CUNNINGHAM
The City Manager has not ruled out that a prosecution may arise from an explosion which ripped through City Hall two years ago.
Effectively, the local authority is now waiting to hear if a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions on the matter.
And interim City Manager Joe O’Neill has again told councillors that he cannot furnish them with details on their own internal investigations until the Council sees what the Health & Safety Authority’s independent investigation shows.
However, Mr O’Neill was told 18 months ago that the HSA is prevented from furnishing him with their report.
In fact, a second letter from the HSA, penned by their Assistant Chief Executive, asked the Manager to ensure their position was fully understood by the Council.
Mr O’Neill was questioned at a meeting of the City Council again this week on the explosion, but said he is unable to provide councillors with any information until the HSA report is completed.
When subsequently contacted by this newspaper, Mr O’Neill said: “We’ve done our own investigation, but we want to see what the HSA investigation shows. They did most of the investigating. They operate independently, and they could decide to prosecute somebody.
“I don’t know if somebody will be prosecuted … it would be wrong to speculate,” said Mr O’Neill.
However, the HSA wrote to Mr O’Neill in December 2010, referring to comments he made in the Galway City Tribune and our sister newspaper the Connacht Sentinel in October and November of that year, that he is “awaiting a report from the HSA in relation to the incident”.
HSA Inspector Vincent Darcy told Mr O’Neill: “I wish to advise that the investigation of this incident, being undertaken by the HSA is ongoing and that the HSA will not be issuing a report to Galway City Council in relation to the matter. The provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 prevent me from providing you with the information you require.
“On completion of the investigation, should breaches in Safety and Health legislation be determined, a file may be submitted to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for their consideration and direction,” the letter reads.
The explosion occurred on the morning of June 11, 2010 shortly before staff arrived for work, and shattered windows as well as causing extensive damage to the offices on the ground floor of City Hall. It also travelled up stairwells and caused damage to the upper floor of the building.
At the time, Council officials hailed it as a miracle that nobody was killed or seriously injured in the incident, which took place at around 7.50am.
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.