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Declan Doocey in his ceremonial mayoral robes in 2018. Waterford City and County Council

Council takes court action over FG mayor's €700k landfill bill weeks before local elections

Declan Doocey was at the centre of controversy due to his plastic waste recycling company operating a waste dump in his local area.

A LONG-RUNNING DISPUTE between the deputy mayor of Waterford and the local council has taken another turn, with the local authority launching fresh legal action against the Fine Gael councillor.

Declan Doocey, who runs a recycling company dealing with farm plastic near his home in Lismore in Co Waterford, was previously brought to court for allegedly storing over 5,300 tonnes of toxic waste that cost €700,000 to clean up.

He has argued against paying back this bill incurred by the Department of Environment and a further €39,000 worth of legal costs incurred by the council in previous High Court proceedings.

When asked by The Journal earlier this year about a local government auditor’s suggestion that the council could dock his expenses as a way of recouping the costs, he was defiant, replying: “I won’t be wearing that.”

A previous legal action was settled in 2021 after Doocey gave undertakings regarding the site and the council agreed to have these proceedings struck out.

In new proceedings filed this week, the council has taken action under section two of the Mediation Act 2017. The legislation is used when attempting to resolve disputes.

The move comes a month out from the local elections in which Doocey is fighting to retain his seat.

Doocey has been at the centre of local controversy due to the issue, which has seen Waterford City and County Council also receive criticism from the department and an environmental group over its failure to collect the costs from Doocey.

When contacted, a spokeswoman said it was not the policy of the council to “discuss the details of an individual case such as this”.

Doocey did not respond when contacted about the latest development. In January, he insisted to The Journal that he will be “exonerated” eventually.

He alleged at the time that he was “unfairly targeted” despite other cases of “hundreds of thousands of tonnes” of waste stored around the country, while he claimed his waste was “tidy, segregated” and ready to be disposed of before the council took action.

The first High Court case was settled in 2021 after Doocey gave undertakings regarding the site which “satisfied the purpose of the council’s application to the Courts”. On this basis, the council agreed to have these proceedings struck out.

Costs arising from clearing the site came to €739,000, with a Department of Housing and Local Government auditor criticising Waterford City and County Council for its failure to collect those costs from Doocey over the affair.

Local party feeling

Last month, Doocey put himself forward to contest the next General Election for Fine Gael but withdrew minutes before party members cast their votes at a selection convention in Waterford city.

The favourite, senator John Cummins, was selected as candidate as a result.

A number of the party’s local election candidates expressed disquiet about the controversy to The Journal on the evening in the Granville Hotel – while his dispute with Waterford City and County Council remains live.

One candidate said the issue had come up on the doorsteps, often as “people saying it under their breath”, with the issue raised directly on a small number of occasions.

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