ESB lodges High Court proceedings against two staff named in relation to alleged payments controversy

It is alleged by construction companies that certain ESB workers made demands for cash in return for help connecting projects to the electricity grid

The ESB has initiated High Court proceedings against two staff members named in relation to alleged demands for money from construction companies in return for help in connecting projects to the electricity grid.

In February, the State-owned company lodged proceedings against engineer Alan Brown and earlier this week it lodged proceedings against ESB technician Kieran Sharkey.

In both cases the proceedings are linked to the ESB’s ongoing inquiry into claims that payments were sought and received from construction companies Richmond Homes and Arkmount Construction by ESB staff.

The energy company is seeking to gather more information about the alleged payments. It is currently awaiting judgment in a case where it asked the High Court to grant it a Norwich Pharmacal order compelling the construction companies to set out details of payments of thousands of euro allegedly made to ESB workers.


Marcus Dowling SC, for the ESB, told Mr Justice Conor Dignam in February that the information was required so the company could initiate legal or disciplinary actions against staff members alleged to have sought the money.

The alleged demands for money first came to light last year when the construction companies complained to the ESB about the rising level of the cash demands it was receiving from staff.

In October, the High Court granted a discovery order to the ESB against the companies in relation to the payments. Included in the information handed over was audio of a conversation allegedly between Mr Brown and Donal Mulligan, a manager with Arkmount Construction, in which the payment of money was allegedly discussed.

Both Mr Brown and Mr Sharkey were mentioned in documents linked to a hearing in February before Mr Justice Dignam in relation to the alleged demands for money. It was alleged in the material that a foreman on a site in Kinsealy, Co Dublin, had been asked by Mr Sharkey to make a payment to an ESB technician.

The ESB has reported the alleged payments to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and an investigation is ongoing. Under the 2011 Criminal Justice Act, there is an obligation on companies to report instances of suspected bribery and corruption.

In seeking the order for a wider disclosure of information from the construction companies, Mr Dowling said there was a public interest in the court ensuring that the ESB could deal with the alleged wrongdoing effectively and potentially defer future wrongdoing.

Tony McGillicuddy SC, for the construction companies, both with an address at Embassy House, Ballsbridge, Dublin, said his clients had notified the ESB of the demands for money, provided the ESB with the names of four people alleged to have sought payments, had provided documentation, and had co-operated fully with the Garda. The Norwich Pharmacal order being requested went beyond what was allowed, he said.

A spokesman for ESB said he had no comment on the latest court actions filed. A request for a comment from the construction companies met with no response. Attempts to contact Mr Brown and Mr Sharkey were unsuccessful.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent