Monday 14 October 2019

Council aware for three years that gang provided security at housing site

Derek ‘Dee Dee’ O’Driscoll
Derek ‘Dee Dee’ O’Driscoll

Breda Heffernan, Caroline O'Doherty and Luke Byrne

Dublin City Council has insisted it did not pay any money to criminal Derek 'Dee Dee' O'Driscoll and an associate following revelations of a protection racket at a council housing site.

The arrangement was raised in court by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) this week, after which the council said it had launched an "independent investigation" amid allegations council money ended up in accounts linked to O'Driscoll and David Reilly.

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However, it has emerged that the council has been aware for more than three years that a mob led by O'Driscoll provided security at a housing site.

In September 2016, the 'Herald' revealed the gang involved in the 'Ballymount Bloodbath' was providing "security" at the Cherry Orchard site.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan said the council must clarify what happened in 2016.

Fine Gael councillor Danny Byrne said he was horrified at the revelation and would be looking for a meeting with the council's chief executive, Owen Keegan. "This is very serious, if the council has been aware of this for three years, and has done nothing or has tried to make it go away," he said.

David Reilly
David Reilly

READ MORE: Minister seeking investigation on claims that council paid protection money to criminals

Earlier this week, counsel for the CAB told the High Court that sums of €1,200 and €1,500 a week were being paid by construction companies to O'Driscoll and Reilly in order to maintain the safety of workers and equipment at sites, and that this money had been paid through extortion.

The CAB successfully applied for bank accounts containing more than €250,000 controlled by O'Driscoll and Reilly to be frozen.

O'Driscoll (46), of Croftwood Park, Ballyfermot, and Reilly (36), of Croftwood Grove, Ballyfermot, had denied the money was raised by criminal means but was paid to them by providing the services of a fencing company.

The council said in a statement that no payments were made by it to O'Driscoll and Reilly. "The city council was aware of an extraordinary level of intimidation and criminal activity directed at the contractor's staff, the city council's own staff and at the building site," it said.

READ MORE: Court freezes €250k accounts of 'housing site protection gang' raised through 'extortion rackets'

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said more may yet emerge from the force's investigation into the case.

Sinn Féin TD Aengus O'Snodaigh said he told junior health minister Catherine Byrne about the matter more than two years ago.

Ms Byrne was asked about it yesterday and she confirmed that she did know about the intimidation incident.

"It was highlighted in a newspaper around December 19 or 18," she said. "I had rung the city council after I saw the incident happened and I was talking to officials and the local area officer told me that there had been an incident where there was intimidation and a JCB was burned out and the man who was driving had been injured.

"But he assured me that everything was fine and that the council were dealing with it and the guards were involved."

Irish Independent

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