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Council parks probe into protection racket payments

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Niall Carson/PA Wire

(stock photo)

Dublin City Council has quietly parked an investigation into how public money was used for protection racket payments, citing a Garda investigation into the issue, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Since September 2016, council officials were aware a gang led by criminal Derek 'Dee Dee' O'Driscoll was providing security at a public housing site in Cherry Orchard.

That arrangement was raised in court by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in October. It successfully got bank accounts containing more than €250,000 controlled by O'Driscoll and an associate, David Reilly, frozen.

However, the council's response to the scandal has been shrouded in secrecy. It refused to reveal the outcome of the 2016 investigation.

Last year the council's most senior official, chief executive Owen Keegan, urged councillors not to hold a meeting to discuss the matter.

At the time, he said he had "grave reservations" about the meeting "while the matter is under investigation by the city council and external agencies".

The meeting was eventually cancelled. In November, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy appointed senior counsel Patrick Butler to investigate the allegations.

Mr Butler's investigation was completed in December and has been passed to the Office of the Attorney General "seeking legal advice on publication and next steps".

However, the council has now confirmed the investigation announced five months ago, is no longer under way.

"The internal team has been stood down pending completion of these separate investigations," a statement said.

City councillor Mannix Flynn, who tabled questions to Mr Keegan about the progress of the investigation, expressed anger at the council's actions.

"We were not told about the decision about the internal report and this raises very serious questions for the council and officials," he said.

He asked on who's authority was the investigation parked.

"The executive has a responsibility to the elected members here. This is public money were are talking about. Why was this report shelved? When was that decision taken?"

In December, a senior employee of the council was arrested as part of the investigation. The 61-year-old, who worked in the housing department, was questioned in Clondalkin Garda Station before being released without charge.

He was previously quizzed by the CAB along with a now retired council worker in relation to money being paid over to the mobsters but not arrested on that occasion.

Irish Independent