herald

Thursday 5 December 2019

Council aware of 'Dee Dee' mob site security claims three years ago

The Cherry Orchard site in west Dublin pictured in 2016. Photo: INM
The Cherry Orchard site in west Dublin pictured in 2016. Photo: INM
Derek 'Dee Dee' O'Driscoll (pictured) and David Reilly had €250k in bank accounts frozen by the CAB this week

Dublin City Council has been aware for more than three years that a mob led by gangland criminal Derek 'Dee Dee' O'Driscoll provided security at a council housing site.

In September 2016, the Herald revealed the notorious gang involved in the infamous ‘Ballymount Bloodbath’ was providing “security” at the Cherry Orchard site.

The council said at the time it would investigate the allegations.

However, the outcome of that probe is unclear because the council yesterday refused to release details of it, or to comment on it.

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

Horrified

Fianna Fail justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan has said the council must clarify what happened in 2016.

“Dublin City Council should clarify whether it investigated these claims back in 2016, as was indicated in the Herald three years ago,” he said.

“The public should also be informed of the results of that investigation.”

Fine Gael councillor Danny Byrne said he is horrified at the revelation and will be looking for a meeting with the council’s chief executive, Owen Keegan.

“I will be demanding answers about what happened with that investigation,” he said.

“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.”

The council has insisted it did not pay any money following revelations of a protection racket at a council housing site.

Three years ago, the Herald first revealed that the site in Cherry Orchard, west Dublin had been targeted for anti-social behaviour, prompting the decision to hire a security firm.

Earlier this week, counsel for the CAB told the High Court that sums of €1,500 and €1,200-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.

CAB was successful in getting bank accounts containing more than €250,000 controlled by O’Driscoll and Reilly 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 to three sites being developed for housing in the Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard areas.

Derek O’Driscoll was jailed for 18 months in 2013 for threatening someone with a crutch during a violent melee dubbed the Ballymount Bloodbath which left another man dead.

Sinn Fein TD Aengus O’Snodaigh yesterday claimed he told Junior health minister

Catherine Byrne and the Government about the matter more than two years ago.

Ms Byrne was asked about the matter at a Department of Health press conference and she confirmed that she did know about an incident at the site in December 2016.

“It was highlighted in a newspaper around on the 19th or the 18th of December,” she said.

The Herald reported at the time that an innocent worker was lucky to escape injury when a thug threw a lit carton of petrol into a digger at the site. 

“I received an email into my office on Christmas Eve,” 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.

Extortion

“After that, on the 29th, when I did receive, I looked at the letter, I read it. I was very concerned with what was in it. But I also noted in the letter that it also been brought to the guards’ attention at Clondalkin and other senior officials.

“Really, my job, at that stage, was finished because this was an investigation by An Garda Siochana.

“I totally condemn intimidation or extortion at any level, particularly in communities and particularly in vulnerable communities.”

As councillors reacted angrily to the revelations and demanded answers from DCC chief Owen Keegan, the council said it was arranging for an “independent investigation to be carried out into all aspects of its involvement in this matter”.

However, in a statement, it insisted no payments were made by the city council to O’Driscoll and Reilly.

“The city council does not condone the payment of protection money by any of its contractors,” it said.

It said the sites “experienced severe anti-social behaviour over the years”.

“Enabling works were carried out and a legitimate contractor was engaged to secure the fencing on the site and to protect the fence and the enabling works, pending the appointment of a contractor to construct the new social housing.

“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 added that, at all times, council staff kept gardai fully appraised of the “very serious difficulties being experienced by the contractor”. DCC also said that two of its officers identified in the High Court yesterday had co-operated fully with the CAB investigation.

Meanwhile, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said more may yet emerge from the garda probe into the case.

“I don’t think we have reached the conclusion of our investigations in respect of that,” he said.

Responding to the scandal, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said he could not condone the payment of protection money to criminals to safeguard against anti-social behaviour.

“Obviously we can’t condone any type of behaviour that would support criminal activity,” he said. “Dublin City Council are looking into this, they’re investigating it with their own staff and when they’ve done that they’ll report back to me.”

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