Limerick city councillor in legal battle with woman, 91, after falling through her shed roof

CITY councillor Tom Shortt has sent a solicitor's letter to his 91-year-old next-door neighbour seeking compensation after he badly injured himself after falling through her shed roof.

CITY councillor Tom Shortt has sent a solicitor's letter to his 91-year-old next-door neighbour seeking compensation after he badly injured himself after falling through her shed roof.

Cllr Shortt was with his son removing vegetation when he fell through the asbestos roof. Although the incident happened on October 27, at O'Dwyer Villas in Thomondgate, Cllr Shortt is still on crutches after breaking the heel of his foot.

Now there is a serious dispute between Josephine O'Flynn – who says she warned the councillor not to go on the roof – and Cllr Shortt, who is understood to have a different version of events.

A letter sent by his solicitors to the Limerick Leader stated that he was carrying out this work "... at the request of Mrs O'Flynn and was on her property with her permission".

But clutching the solicitor's letter she received on behalf of the Labour councillor, who is a brother of the comedian and actor Pat Shortt, Mrs O'Flynn said her world has been turned upside down by the recent events.

Mrs O'Flynn has been living at the house since she was 14. She spent most of her working life at Geary's sweet factory. She and her late husband, a merchant seaman who died over 40 years ago, had three boys and enjoyed life in a close-knit neighbourhood.

"I don't know what I am going to do, I am in an awful state," she said. Mr Shortt's solicitors, in a letter to the Limerick Leader, said that their client informed Mrs O'Flynn of the likelihood of him making a claim and had learned that she had "a valid policy of house insurance" before the letter of claim was sent to her.

The wall between the houses is extremely high and is believed to to be part of an old Distillery structure. The garden shed is at the side of the house, underneath the wall. Cllr Shortt declined to comment when contacted by the Limerick Leader, but it is understood that his version of events is at variance with that of Mrs O'Flynn and he contends he had permission to go on the roof and, in fact, had been requested to do so.

Cllr Shortt's Galway-based solicitors Brian Lynch and Associates wrote to Mrs O'Flynn: "On the occasion in question, we are instructed that our client was removing vegetation from the roof of a shed situated upon your dwelling when owing to your negligence, breach of duty and breach of statutory duty, our client was caused and/or permitted to fall through the roof and land on the concrete floor as a result of which he sustained serious personal injuries."

Writing in December, the solicitors asked the pensioner to admit liability "in an open letter within 10 days from the date of this letter", also stating: "We are satisfied from our instructions that you are responsible for this accident and therefore liable to compensate our client for his personal injury, loss and damage."

"I can't believe it, I have been living here all my life and nothing like this has every happened. I have never had a falling out with a neighbour," said Mrs O'Flynn.

The letter goes on to state that Cllr Shortt's claim for damages may be the subject of an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.

"In the event that it becomes necessary to issue proceedings against you, our client will, as part of his claim, seek from you the costs of such proceedings," the letter read.

The Limerick Leader subsquently received a letter from Cllr Shortt's solicitors, which stated that he was on Mrs O'Flynn's property with her permission, carrying out work at her request.

The letter added that the insurance claims procedure "is the proper and appropriate forum for each party to advance their account of the circumstances surrounding the relevant events".