Larkin -v- Dublin City Council, [2007] IEHC 416 (2007)

Docket Number:2006 3870 P
Party Name:Larkin, Dublin City Council
Judge:Clark J.


DUBLIN CITY COUNCILRESPONDENTJUDGMENT of Ms. Justice Clark delivered on the 7th day of December, 2007

  1. David Larkin, the plaintiff makes an unusual case. He is a full time fireman attached to a busy city fire station. His father was a very senior fire officer and his only ambition in life was to follow in his father's footsteps. To move up the ranks in the fire service it is necessary to accumulate 7 years experience to be eligible to compete for a limited number of places for the position as sub officer. The successful candidates then form a pool from which sub-officers are drawn over the next two years or so. There is no other way to move up the ranks in the fire service. Every promotion starts from the position of sub officer so understandably, the places are very sought after and competition is keen. The competitions are held every three to five years with the number of candidates far exceeding the number of places available. The successful candidates are feted by other firemen in the station who are generally aware of the identity of those who succeed and those who fail to be considered as sub officer.

  2. The plaintiff had suffered what he described as a setback in his personal life in that his marriage had broken down and his wife had gone abroad taking their only child to live with her. His access to this child was consequently limited by the very considerable distance between the two households. He had previously applied for the sub-officer competition but had been unsuccessful. It meant a great deal to him to become a sub officer.

  3. In 2002 a competition was announced. There were approximately 160 applicants for 50 places. The plaintiff and two colleagues from the same station entered the very competitive process. They first obtained a study pack for home study and then engaged in a junior officer training course which lasted 13 months. They sat a written exam and were then assessed on the training course, their general experience, the written exam and their station performance. The points for each component of that assessment were notified to each candidate by letter and they then applied to be considered for interview.

  4. Obviously candidates with high assessments before interview have an advantage as points are accumulated and those with the highest marks make the cut. Exam results which were produced show quite small differences between the points achieved by the first successful candidate at the top of the list and the first candidate declared unsuccessful.

  5. On 16th. July the plaintiff was notified by phone that he had been successful and was included in the panel of the first 50 highest achievers. Another colleague, Ken Murray also received the good news while the third candidate Michael Moylan was told that he was unsuccessful. The Plaintiff was thrilled with his success and shared this good news with friends, colleagues and family. News of the results became common knowledge in the station. On the following Tuesday, he was officially notified by letter of his successful result. He felt elated and enjoyed a sense of personal professional achievement.

  6. Two days later, rumours circulated in the fire station that two candidates had been removed for the list of successful applicants. Michael Moylan gave evidence that he received a phone call that day to say that a mistake had been...

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