A known criminal has been alleged to have extorted money from a company building houses for Dublin City Council (DCC), offering ‘protection’ from anti-social behaviour in return for thousands of euro, it was revealed last week.
The revelation was made at the High Court on October 8, where Justice Carmel Stewart found more than €250,000 in four bank accounts linked to the criminal and his associate, after the Criminal Assets Bureau seized the accounts in December 2018.
It is believed that money was extorted from a number of companies, including a company developing homes in Cherry Orchard for DCC.
The matter was raised in the Dail last Thursday, with Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy saying he “can’t condone any type of behaviour that would support criminal activity”.
Last Thursday, Minister Murphy announced that there would be an independent investigation into the claims, but Deputy Aengus O Snodaigh (SF) said the investigation “runs the risk of becoming a ploy to bury an issue that has exposed major failings” by Minister Murphy and party colleagues.
Deputy O Snodaigh said: “For this investigation to be effective, it must ensure that it looks at whether or not the case before the High Court, at present, is part of a pattern of intimidation and extortion of building contractors in the area, across the city and in the State in general.
“The concerns that I raised with them [via correspondence sent in December, 2016] were ignored or dismissed and no action was taken on foot of the letters I sent them.
“These letters had also been sent to senior management in DCC, the local TD and junior minister Catherine Byrne, and to the housing body, Cooperative Housing Ireland.
“What’s needed now is for an investigation to address the reason why ministers and An Garda Síochana ignored my request for a meeting, and that, in fact, [then 2016] Minster [for Justice] Frances Fitzgerald dismissed my concerns.
“It is unacceptable that certain communities are allowed to be held to ransom by criminal gangs, as in this case,” said the Deputy.
Junior Minister Catherine Byrne also said that she contacted DCC when she was made aware of the matter last December, and was assured that it was being dealt with, and that gardai were involved in investigating.
Cllr Daithi Doolan (SF) put forward an emergency motion for the South Central Area Committee meeting on Wednesday, October 16, calling on DCC to investigate the claims, and to make the findings public.
He said: “Criminal gangs must be tackled head-on by gardai and must not be allowed to hold communities to ransom.
“Aengus O Snodaigh and myself contacted Government ministers, DCC management and senior gardai in December, 2016, raising our concerns about criminal gangs demanding money from builders.
“We asked for a meeting to discuss our concerns – no meeting ever happened. This was wrong.
“It is unacceptable that certain communities are allowed to be held to ransom by criminal gangs.
“Gardai or Government ministers would not tolerate this in Blackrock or Foxrock.
“We will be redoubling our efforts to ensure this does not happen during construction work in the the Local Area Plan for Cherry Orchard.”