Staff in Dublin City Council have been moved out of positions and areas of the city because of intimidation or threats from criminals, councillors have been told.
Councillors who represent the Cherry Orchard area were meeting on Wednesday following revelations last week of attacks and protection rackets at building sites in the west Dublin suburb.
The High Court was last 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.
Councillors on Wednesday agreed a motion proposed by Sinn Féin’s Daithí Doolan expressing “deep concern at reports of payments being made to criminal gangs in order to allow the construction of housing in Cherry Orchard”.
An independent investigation is to be undertaken into the council’s handling of the issue.
“We call on Dublin City Council to make the findings of their investigation public and to ensure appropriate action taken. Criminal gangs must be tackled head-on by gardaí and must not be allowed to hold communities to ransom,” the motion stated.
Sinn Féin councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh asked the council's manager for the area Mary Taylor if procedures were in place to protect council staff from intimidation and threats from these gangs.
“I know how vulnerable estate managers and project managers can be in some of our areas and I want to be sure they get adequate protection and resources needed if they find themselves in incidences like this,” Ms Ní Dhálaigh said.
Ms Taylor said measures, including training for staff to deal with “situations” such as these were in place. However, she said there had been incidences where workers had to be moved for their protection.
“We are very aware of the need to protect our staff,” she said. “On occasion we have had to move staff out of particular jobs and particular areas.”
The investigation into the particular issue in Cherry Orchard was already under way, she told councillors.
“We will be back to you with the results of that investigation when its done.”