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Dublin City Council denies paying money to convicted criminal and launches its own investigation

One of the companies that hired the two men was building houses for Dublin City Council.

Dublin City Council is carrying out an investigation into claims payments were made to known criminals.
Dublin City Council is carrying out an investigation into claims payments were made to known criminals.
Image: Shutterstock/Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH

Updated Oct 9th 2019, 6:00 PM

HOUSING MINISTER EOGHAN Murphy has said he cannot condone building firms paying protection money to criminals to safeguard against anti-social behaviour at construction sites.

A High Court hearing yesterday heard that a known criminal and his associate are alleged to have extorted money from companies, including one building houses for Dublin City Council, by offering them protection from anti-social behaviour in return for thousands of euro per week.

Justice Carmel Stewart at the High Court found that over €250,000 in four bank accounts linked to Derek O’Driscoll is the proceeds of crime.

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) seized the bank accounts in December 2018 and Justice Stewart’s order means that the money will be kept by the State.

Murphy said he only heard about the case in reports last night, stating that they are trying to get to the bottom of it. 

“Obviously we can’t condone any type of behaviour that would support criminal activity,” he said 

“Dublin city council are looking into this, they’re investigating it with their own staff and when they’ve done that they’ll report back to me.

“If the reports are accurate, I can’t condone that kind of activity or officials from any local authority’s involvement in that type of activity. but I need to hear more information. This is the first I heard of it.

“Dublin City Council have assured me through officials that they are investigating it and will report back to me when that investigation is finished.”

In a statement this evening, DCC said it did not condone any such payments. 

A spokesperson said: “The City Council does not condone the payment of protection money by any of its contractors. No payments were made by the City Council to the individuals concerned. 

“The particular site along with other vacant development sites in the area experienced severe anti-social behaviour over the years, which was a matter of serious concern for local residents and their elected representatives. In addition to providing much needed social housing, the development was intended to address the problem of the anti-social behaviour.”

 

DCC said it was also aware of an “extraordinary level of intimidation and criminal activity directed at this contractor’s staff, the City Council’s own staff and at the building site”.

The City Council is arranging for an independent investigation to be carried out into all aspects of its involvement in this matter.

Sinn Féin TD Aengus O Snodaigh said today that he had informed Dublin City Council as well as Minister of State Catherine Byrne that money was being paid to criminals years ago. 

When asked the matter today, Byrne said she received an email about the matter on Christmas Eve last year, but did not read it until 29 December. 

She said she called Dublin City Council officials about the information and spoke to officials about an incident that occurred where a JCB had been burned out. 

The Fine Gael junior minister said she was assured by council officials that the issue was being dealt with and that gardaí had been informed.

Noting that the gardaí from Clondalkin Garda Station were brought in to deal with the matter, she felt she had not other role to play in the incident as it was a garda investigation. 

Byrne said she “condemned” any form of intimidation and violence at all levels, stating that the areas of Cherry Orchard and Ballyfermot have had issues with drug dealing and criminality for years. 

“I totally condemn it and want to make that very clear here,” she said. 

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