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Dublin: 19 °C Friday 14 August, 2020

Council staff told to 'immediately' report intimidation incidents after protection payment court case

Dublin City Council’s Chief Executive wrote to staff in recent days.

Civic Offices, Dublin
Civic Offices, Dublin
Image: Shutterstock/Pierre-Olivier

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL staff have been told to “immediately” report any incidents of intimidation or threatening behaviour after allegations that protection money was paid to known criminals last year. 

It was alleged in October in the High Court that criminals extorted money from building firms – including one firm building houses for Dublin City Council – by offering protection from anti-social behaviour in return for thousands of euro per week.

The Criminal Assets Bureau told the High Court that the construction sites in Cherry Orchard, Ballyfermot were targeted with attacks in 2016.

The two criminals investigated by CAB are said to have received over €550,00 in protection payments. 

In a statement in October, Dublin City Council denied making payments to individuals concerned and launched its own investigation. 

In December, a Council official was arrested by Gardaí investigating extortion allegations at building sites.

The man was later released without charge. 

The Council recently reviewed its process of reporting intimidation, anti-social behaviour and so-called ‘protection payments’ which now involves logging all incidents and reporting these in writing to An Garda Síochana. 

In a letter issued to staff in recent days, and seen by, Council Chief Executive Owen Keegan said that there is a “strong culture” among Council staff of reporting accidents, incidents, issues relating to violence, anti-social behaviour or aggression. 

Keegan said that a “robust” internal reporting system “works well in the vast majority of cases”.

“It is important that this culture of reporting is extended to all incidents of intimidation and threatening behaviour and suspicions of irregular security arrangements or ‘protection-security’ payments made in respect of any City Council building site or project,” Keegan said. 

“I appreciate that staff members may be reluctant to report these incidents,” said Keegan, adding that staff should report any incident relating to a Council building site to a Supervisor or Senior Management immediately. 

In his letter, Keegan said the City Council is “committed to supporting frontline staff, delivering building and construction projects” but that “we can only provide that support if we are aware of the problems that arise in the first place”.

Shortly after Dublin City Council launched its investigation into allegations of protection payments, the Department of Housing undertook its own review. As a result, the Council’s investigation was stood down, Keegan told Councillors this month. 

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According to a spokesperson for the Department, the final report was received in late December.

“Having considered the Report, given its complexity and particularly in light of an ongoing Garda investigation, it was sent to the Office of the Attorney General seeking legal advice on publication and next steps,” they said. 

In recent days, construction has recommenced at three of Dublin City Council’s housing sites. 

A letter circulated to Council members advised that the Government was giving consideration to allow social housing developments which could be completed by the end of May to resume construction.

Dublin City Council had applied to allow 11 sites resume construction and has been granted permission for three of those social housing developments in Dublin.

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