herald

Sunday 20 August 2017

Former Mary Lou ally denies links to crime

Over €100k of vehicles seized from home of ex-councillor who quit SF over claims of bullying

The Garda water unit at the scene
The Garda water unit at the scene
Gardai remove the BMW
The motorcycle being taken away

A former political ally of Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has categorically denied any involvement with criminality following a raid on his family home by armed gardai.

One-time Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall said he was "surprised" to see scores of armed officers pulling up outside his Navan Road home, near Cabra, on Thursday, and said he managed to open the door "just in time to stop them bursting through".

The 38-year-old, who hails from the north inner city, was first elected to Dublin City Council in 2014 but quit public office and his party less than a year later.

Strenuously denying any links to "criminality or any crime organisation", Dowdall said if he had any connection to crime, "it would have come out [during] the election".

However, when speaking to RTE Radio's Liveline programme yesterday, he said he was "proud to know" some members of the Hutch family.

He also denied any links to the Kinahan Cartel.

When queried by broadcaster Joe Duffy about his association with the Hutch family, he said: "You know how the inner city works, everyone knows everyone, some of them I'm proud to know, and there's plenty of others I've never met.

Linked

"Just because someone has the name Hutch doesn't mean anything. Patrick Hutch is a father and has been a good friend of mine since I was a child.

"It's been in the media all along that this man has no involvement in crime.

"I know that man; that man is a friend of mine and this is probably linked to that.

"I wasn't cautioned or arrested at any point, and I've no idea what it (the raid) was in relation to."

Mr Dowdall, who operates Abco Electrical, confirmed reports that a luxury BMW worth close to €85,000 and a high-speed BMW motorbike worth €25,000 were taken by officers, along with documentation and other valuables.

However, he stressed that he had them financed with loans. He claimed that the motors were only taken because they "looked good on the back of a truck", claiming other vehicles - a 4x4 and a mini - were not taken.

He accused the gardai of leaking information of the raid to the media and said his wife came back to the property to find an officer sitting in the house alone on the sofa watching television with a machine gun beside him.

Responding to reports that gardai called in the Water Unit to examine a large aquarium, he said that, as a hobby, he keeps Japanese carp fish.

"I grow them up and sell them on to some of my friends. It's a hobby and is something I built myself."

A garda diver entered the water during the search rather than draining the unit to prevent harm to the fish.

Dowdall, who yesterday refused to speak to the Herald, said he feared for the future of his company. It's believed a member of the Hutch family - a nephew of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch who has no link to criminality - worked for him on occasion.

The company acts as a sub-contractor for security giant G4S. A company spokesman yesterday said that six Abco workers had been suspended from a site in Ireland.

"I'm worried here. I've worked my a**e off since I was 16 and now my whole life has been turned upside down," Mr Dowdall said.

"Like any business today, my company is always in overdraft. I borrow, which I've proof of, from the Credit Union down the road for the weeks I'm waiting for payment to come. It's not a cash business."

Concerned

Earlier, Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald distanced herself from her former colleague, who quit the party amid bullying claims.

"The person concerned, Jonathan Dowdall, left Sinn Fein some time ago," she said.

"In terms of that particular garda operation - I don't know why it was carried out.

"I don't believe that the gardai have made a statement on that matter but I would just reiterate that the gardai have to carry out their duties and, of course, people are entitled to due process - that is how it is."

Asked if she was concerned that the home of her former colleague had been searched, she replied: "I'm very concerned as I've said that the gardai pursue matters in an appropriate, an efficient and an effective way."

Dowdall, who quit the party in February 2015, claimed he was bullied by unnamed party members but never lodged a formal complaint.

In an interview last year, he said he was targeted by "a certain element within Sinn Fein".

He claimed there were "attacks" on him and his "team members" from certain factions within the organisation. The party has denied the claims.

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