Firefigher wins action against employer

Aodhan O'Faolain


Aodhan O'Faolain


Firefigher wins action against employer

A firefighter has succeeded in overturning Roscommon County Council's decision to dismiss him.

A firefighter has succeeded in overturning Roscommon County Council's decision to dismiss him.

Sean Callaghan, a part time retained firefighter based at Castlerea Fire Station sued his employer over its decision to terminate his employment claiming he had breached his contractual obligation to live within a two mile radius of the fire station.

39 year old Mr Callaghan rejected that claim and in High Court proceedings said the decision to dismiss him was "absurd" "without merit" and "in flagrant disregard to his rights to fair procedures and natural justice."

He also claimed he was "treated appallingly" by the Council who had failed to provide him or his lawyers with any proof or evidence that he was living outside of the two mile radius.

Late last month, just days after the council informed him of its decision, Mr Callaghan of Kilkeevan Park, Castlerea secured a temporary High Court injunction preventing his purported dismissal.

At the High Court on Tuesday Marguerite Bolger SC, instructed by Purdy Fitzgerald Solicitors,  for Mr Callaghan told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan at the High Court that the action had been settled.

Counsel said the council was also consenting to declarations including that Mr Callaghan's purported dismissal was null and void, and that he continues to be employed by the Council as a part time retained firefighter in Castlerea unless and until his employment is lawfully terminated.  

The Judge agreed to strike out the matter. 

In a sworn statement seeking the injunction Mr Callaghan said he was informed on June 22nd last that the Council was not satisfied he was living within the two mile radius, as he is required to do under his contract of employment.  

He said that no reasons were provided why it did not accept he lived at Kilkeevan Park nor did the council say where it thought he lived, he said.

He said that in March he had provided the council with documents including a utility bill, bank statement, drivers licence and the relevant eircode details for Kilkeevan Park.

He did this after his employers wrote to all firefighters requesting evidence that they were all complying with their obligation to live within a radius of 2 miles of Castlerea fire station. 

He did not hear from the Council until June when it informed him he was to be dismissed. 

Mr Callaghan said he was "shocked an appalled" at the decision to dismiss him. 

Mr Callaghan said the Council bypassed numerous procedural safeguards, denied him a right to appeal, and denied him any opportunity to challenge the basis on which he had been dismissed.  

He said he has worked as a part time firefighter in Castlerea since 2007. 

He said he has an exemplary disciplinary record, but has been engaged in a unrelated disciplinary matter which is ongoing.

He feared that if the dismissal was upheld he would be left "in a perilous state." 

He had a mortgage to pay, and is engaged to be married. He would also find it extremely difficult if not impossible to to obtain alternative employment as a fire fighter, he said.