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22 May 2022

Limerick contractor successfully appeals pollution conviction

Limerick contractor successfully appeals pollution conviction

Kilmallock Courthouse

A CONVICTION against a County Limerick agricultural contractor for water pollution has been overturned on appeal.

Last October, Brendan McGrath, of Knockainey, pleaded not guilty at Kilmallock Court to two offences under the Water Pollution Act.

The case was taken by Limerick City and County Council, represented by Will Leahy, solicitor. Mr McGrath was defended by David O’Regan BL, instructed by John Cooke, solicitor.

Following a lengthy contested hearing, Judge Patricia Harney found Mr McGrath guilty of allowing polluting matters to enter waters but not guilty of failing to report it because he “did not believe” he did anything wrong.

She ordered he pay the council’s costs of €2,000. The maximum fine a judge can impose for the water pollution offence is €3,000. Due to Mr McGrath’s good record, Judge Harney imposed a more “realistic” fine of €250.

The crux of the case concerned Mr McGrath cleaning a road after spreading slurry for a client in the Herbertstown area. The council and a witness alleged that in cleaning the road slurry was washed into a gully and into a stream.

Mr McGrath, and his brother Seamus, both denied this. They said that you do not drive on slurry while spreading it and that there couldn’t be any drips from a slurry tank onto the road because they are “completely watertight and sealed”. They said they used water to sweep clay - that was picked up on tractor tyres - off the road.

Following the judge’s verdict in Kilmallock Court recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal.

John Cooke, solicitor for Mr McGrath, confirmed to Limerick Live they did appeal the matter to the circuit court.

“The appeal was allowed on consent (by Limerick City and County Council). The guilty verdict was overturned,” said Mr Cooke.

On the day, the council agreed to allow the appeal as the council’s costs had been discharged.

The McGrath family said: “We are delighted that the conviction has been overturned. Looking back on it we are still convinced we were right to clean the road because that is what we always do. If you don’t clean the road you could be fined for leaving it dirty - so what are you supposed to do?”

Limerick City and County Council has been contacted for comment.

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