CORK County Council has cancelled an invoice for €2,024 following a call to emergency services during recent gorse fires. David Roche was abroad when the caretaker of his home phoned emergency services to alert them to a fire in Kealties, Durrus near his home last February.
The Sheep’s Head local said the call was made out of a civic duty and that firefighters never entered his property. With this in mind, the West Cork resident said he was willing to fight Cork County Council every step of the way to ensure the fee was waived.
Mr Roche had penned a letter to Cork County Council arguing that the fire was started on commonage. His letter was accompanied by supporting documentation that included photographs and videos he had recorded of the gorse fires.
Mr Roche was among a number to be issued with similar invoices in recent months.
Large fires caused severe damage to West Cork beauty spots more than two months ago with harrowing images emerging online that showed fires raging through Mount Gabriel on the Mizen Peninsula near Schull. Several blazes had occurred simultaneously according to eye witnesses.
Mr Roche said he is glad Cork County Council took his concerns seriously.
"This is a good example of how democracy works in a local environment with local people and local media who want to put things right. At the end of the day the person who handled my complaint in Cork County Council was very helpful. He invited me to submit my findings and replied to emails promptly.
He hopes that lessons can be learned from the experience.
"It was, in a sense, a big mistake to hand out bills for gorse fires to anybody because it casts the public service in a bad frame. It makes them look mercenary. It’s a public relations mistake and causes grief to people who often feel intimidated. It’s a vast amount of money to ask for and I think that was where the mistake was made.”