Criminals have been paid significant sums of money to prevent attacks on building sites across Dublin city, construction industry and council sources have confirmed.
The High Court was this week told that protection money was paid by Dublin City Council, and contractors working on their behalf, to west Dublin gangland figures to stop vandalism and assaults on workers at social housing sites in Cherry Orchard, Ballyfermot.
The information arose during a case taken by the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) against two men. The bureau was granted orders against Derek "Dee Dee" O'Driscoll (46), Meagans Lane, Crooksling, Saggart, Co Dublin, and David Reilly (36), Croftgrove, Ballyfermot, Dublin, seizing assets of almost €300,000.
The council on Wednesday denied making any payments “to the individuals concerned” and said it “does not condone the payment of protection money by any of its contractors”.
However, it is understood the practice of paying criminals to prevent or stop attacks at building sites is endemic in several parts of the city. Contractors developing new housing for the city council, or refurbishing vacant homes in areas including Ballymun, Ballyfermot, Cherry Orchard and the north inner city have had to make "security" payments to criminals.
“It is pretty regular in certain areas of the city,” said one source.
In most cases the contractor “makes an arrangement” in relation to their site before construction starts and there is no explicit notification to the council that this has occurred. The council will later receive a bill for security costs.
In relation to the Cherry Orchard sites it is understood the levels of intimidation and violence were among “the worst encountered at any site”.
Sources have claimed that contractors and the council had appealed for Garda assistance in quelling extreme violence at the sites, but the force “wouldn’t tog out”.
“When there is a situation where the State cannot uphold the rule of law all bets are off,” said one source.
Contractors were left with two options – either pay the money or walk off the site. “Neither option was attractive . . . the pragmatic option was chosen,” said a source.
The particular part of Cherry Orchard where social housing was being built in 2016 and 2017 was described as “a wild place” with “awful intimidation and violence. It has improved enormously because those houses were built, ” said a council source.
The council has said it is gravely concerned that two staff members, one now retired, who it said had “co-operated fully with the Cab investigation” were identified in the High Court “without regard to their personal safety and without having been given notice”. It is understood that at least one of these staff members had been threatened by the criminals in Cherry Orchard in late 2016.