The issue of taxpayers’ money being paid for the ‘protection’ services of known criminals around construction sites by Dublin City Council has been condemned in west Dublin as being “completely unacceptable”.
Dublin City Council was asked by the Irish Examiner what investigations are underway into the issue, and whether council officials were operating rogue, or if they encouraged the protection payments with the approval of higher authority.
The council did not deny that such payments had been made, but did say that it “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,” a spokesperson said. They added that the council had been aware of the “extraordinary level of intimidation and criminal activity” directed at people working on three sites in the Cherry Orchard area before the protection payments commenced, and had “fully appraised” gardaí of the issues.
It’s understood that an internal investigation at Dublin City Council is underway into the issue. The council said that it is now further “arranging for an independent investigation to be carried out into all aspects of its involvement in this matter”.
“I am surprised that these individuals were reimbursed by Dublin City Council, it’s completely unacceptable,” said Daithí Doolan, a Sinn Féin councillor for Ballyfermot-Drimnagh.
“This shouldn’t have happened, a line needs to be put in the sand,” he said.
Hazel de Nortúin, a People Before Profit councillor for Ballyfermot-Drimnagh, said the payment of such money to criminals by a local authority made her feel “very let down by those paid to look after our area”.
“We’ve agreed a local area plan, with five major sites set for development,” she said.
“So what kind of message is this to put out there — that this is how you work with Dublin City Council? We need to be showing a different way of life to people, that there’s no need to engage in this kind of thing.”