DEPUTY BRADY BE­GINS HIGH COURT CHAL­LENGE AGAINST COUN­CIL

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SINN Fein TD John Brady is stand­ing by his claim that a row over an at­tic ex­ten­sion in his coun­cil home was con­nected to his crit­i­cisms of the lo­cal au­thor­ity.

Deputy Brady, a coun­cil­lor in Bray from 2004 un­til he was elected a TD ear­lier this year, is chal­leng­ing, along with his wife Gayle, an evic­tion no­tice served on them over the 2004 at­tic con­ver­sion which was an al­leged fire haz­ard.

The claim that a roof light win­dow in the at­tic con­ver­sion – partly built by Mr Brady, who is a car­pen­ter – was not big enough for res­cue pur­poses was wrong be­cause there was al­ready a full win­dow at the gable end of the at­tic, the Bradys’ coun­sel said. This win­dow was pro­vided as part of the orig­i­nal con­struc­tion and the en­tire at­tic space was orig­i­nally built so that a con­ver­sion could be car­ried out, as it has been in other houses in the area, Mr O’Dúlacháin said.

Coun­sel said it was also dis­puted that fire doors were re­quired at the ground and first floor lev­els.

Wick­low County Coun­cil op­poses their High Court ac­tion and says the sit­u­a­tion is the re­sult of the cou­ple’s own ac­tions. The fact the con­ver­sion is now sub­stan­tially in com­pli­ance proves the work was re­quired, the coun­cil says.

Mr Brady told the court there had been a lot of ten­sion be­tween him and of­fi­cials in the im­me­di­ate run up to what he said were ‘so-called ran­dom in­spec­tions’ of coun­cil houses where ex­ten­sions had been car­ried out.

He had been highly crit­i­cal of the coun­cil over the deaths of two coun­cil fire­man in 2007 and dur­ing a sub­se­quent health and safety pros­e­cu­tion against it. He had also sup­ported two women who staged a sit-in at Bray civic of­fices over home­less­ness.

As a re­sult of the sit-in in­ci­dent, the coun­cil de­ducted pay­ments from his salary as a coun­cil­lor, re­moved his se­cu­rity clear­ance from the Bray coun­cil build­ing and told him he was only en­ti­tled to go into pub­lic ar­eas, he said.

He had also been highly crit­i­cal of the failure of the coun­cil to up­grade all the houses in one of its es­tates Old­court in Bray, where eight mem­bers of one fam­ily had died in a fire.

An in­de­pen­dent re­port in 2007 for the coun­cil on the Old­court houses had not been acted on, and is still not fully acted on, and coun­cil ten­ants were still liv­ing in un­safe houses, he said.

Luan O’Braon­ain SC, for the coun­cil, put it to him he ap­peared to be say­ing there was a dif­fer­ent stan­dard about fire reg­u­la­tions for him and for the coun­cil. ‘When you do work, it is not to be as­sessed as com­pli­ant, but if the coun­cil does work, it is’, coun­sel said.

Mr Brady said he had never heard of ran­dom in­spec­tions of coun­cil houses un­til his own one, de­spite hav­ing been a coun­cil­lor since 2004. It had never ap­peared on a coun­cil agenda but when his home was done, it did start ap­pear­ing but dis­ap­peared from the agenda soon af­ter­wards.

The coun­cil strongly de­nies it has car­ried out a vendetta against him and says the case should be re­jected, in­clud­ing on grounds that he had pro­vided no ev­i­dence for such claims.

It says its pri­mary con­cern has al­ways been about the safety of the oc­cu­pants of the at­tic con­ver­sion and the fire risk posed.

Asked about the ev­i­dence of a coun­cil of­fi­cial who said ran­dom in­spec­tions had been go­ing on since 2004/05, he said it was not un­til his in­spec­tion they first ap­peared on the coun­cil agen­das. Ear­lier, his wife Gayle told the court she ‘would have done an Ir­ish dance’ to bring the dis­pute to an end.

Mrs Brady said she made great ef­forts to com­ply with re­quire­ments to keep the roof over the heads of her five chil­dren. One of the prob­lems they faced when the coun­cil de­manded they apply for re­ten­tion of the work was that they must also have got a cer­tifi­cate from a pro­fes­sional with €6.5m pub­lic in­dem­nity in­sur­ance.

They could not get a pro­fes­sional with that level of in­sur­ance, she said. Her lawyers claim this level of in­sur­ance is usu­ally re­served for pro­fes­sion­als in­volved in major projects, not do­mes­tic ex­ten­sions.

Asked by Mr O’Braon­ain why did she not tell the coun­cil about this difficulty, or sug­gest maybe get­ting a pro­fes­sional with just €1m in­dem­nity in­sur­ance, she said they were ‘play­ing the game at the time to be com­pli­ant. ‘We did not want this fight, we did not want to be here. I would have done an Ir­ish dance for them if they wanted me to.’ The case was ad­journed for le­gal sub­mis­sions.

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