‘Issue of costs due to delay was matter of public interest’
DURING court proceedings County Manager, Eddie Sheehy, said he released a press statement within three hours of the publication of a report into Wicklow Council’s acquisition of the threeacre site near Charlesland.
Having spent most of Wednesday and part of Thursday morning in the witness box, Mr. Sheehy maintained that information contained in the press release was a matter of public interest.
He also felt it was important to let the public know that Wicklow County Council had been exonerated in the report, with Senior Counsel Séamus Woulfe, who carried out the review, finding that ‘nearly all’ of the councillors' concerns were ‘not wellfounded or are misconceived.’
‘The issue of costs due to the delay was a matter of public interest. I made it clear that the council’s additional costs were €200,000,’ stated Mr. Sheehy while under cross-examination.
He also felt concerns raised by Councillors Cullen and Nevin regarding allegations that an unnamed member of Wicklow County Council staff had acted wrongly during the build-up to the land deal had been damaging to the local authority.
‘Of all the allegations made, that was the most serious,’ said Mr. Sheehy.
‘It suggested impropriety by some Wicklow County Council member of staff. It implied very serious wrongdoing. Mr. Woulfe came to the conclusion that these allegations were unfair to the staff. I felt it was important to include that in the press release.’
During cross-examination, Colm P Condon, SC for the councillors, asked the County Manager, ‘are you saying that the concerns raised weren’t genuine?’
Mr. Sheehy replied, ‘I am saying I don’t believe they were genuine.’
Asked why he hadn’t released a statement after the publication of Woulfe 1, the County Manager said, ‘Woulfe 1 was an examination of the Department and I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to comment.’