Council in protection racket claims: The truth must be established

Council in protection racket claims: The truth must be established

Even if it’s nearly 40 years since Charlie Haughey’s “grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented” became the enduring definition of an era — Gubu — it is hard to think of one that better describes allegations that a Dublin City Council official might be involved in paying protection money to criminals so a building project might not be interrupted.

That the official, allegedly, told builders paying the protection money that it might be reclaimed from the council stretches even Haughey’s description of amazement.

Earlier this week, the High Court heard that protection money for criminals paid by at least one builder to ensure a construction site remained free from attack was first given to a council official.

The money was put in an envelope for the official, Eugene Toolis of Westside Engineering told Criminal Assets Bureau officers in February, 2018. The official explained to Mr Toolis that “security costs” of €1,200 per week would need to be paid to two criminals in cash only.

This is the stuff of Tony Sporano; inevitably, the finger-pointing about who knew what and when they knew it has begun. It is not hard to imagine that that rarely-used phrase — career-ending — might be dusted off before these allegations are credibly resolved.

Every decade or so, a situation that cannot be allowed stand comes along. This is one and it must be resolved no matter where the paths lead. The full resources of the State must be used to establish the truth.

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