Barrister to probe council protection money claims

Barrister to probe council protection money claims

The Government has appointed a leading barrister to investigate whether Dublin City Council paid protection money to criminals to stop violence and intimidation at social housing construction sites.

The High Court was told the council paid security or protection money to the leader of a Dublin drugs gang, and also to a man who was connected to three murders.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has appointed senior counsel Patrick Butler to “establish the role, if any, of Dublin City Council in the events which culminated in payments by construction companies to stop anti-social behaviour on social housing construction sites”.

Mr Butler has been appointed for the purpose of carrying out a statutory review and preparing a report for the minister, which is expected to be completed in a matter of weeks.

Mr Murphy made the decision to appoint Mr Butler following a recent High Court case during which evidence was presented by An Garda Síochána of sums of money paid to the two defendants in the case which, in respect of at least two or three social housing construction sites, was so-called protection money to stop anti-social behaviour.

It has emerged that in carrying out his independent review, Mr Butler will examine all relevant files and documents held by Dublin City Council as well as interview council officials and other relevant parties who were involved in the construction projects.

Mr Butler will report to the minister by December 9.

Explaining his decision to investigate the matter, Mr Murphy said: “I was extremely concerned by the matters that came to light during the recent court case.

“Local authorities must be able to provide urgently- needed social housing, in particular in disadvantaged communities, without interference or obstruction by criminal elements.

There must at all times be full oversight, transparency, and accountability in the local authority system to ensure that public funding is used for the purposes for which it is intended.

According to the terms of reference, Mr Butler will review the judgment delivered by Ms Justice Stewart on October 8 and associated affidavits filed by An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau in this case.

Mr Butler will also examine all written material/records in the possession/under the control of Dublin City Council in relation to the housing developments involved.

The examination is for the period from January 1, 2016, to October 8, 2019.

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