Labour leader Brendan Howlin has called for an investigation into the alleged payment of ‘protection’ money to criminals to be handled by the Gardaí.
The High Court has heard that building firms working on Dublin City Council housing projects paid money to violent criminals to prevent attacks at building sites.
It heard that the firms were handing over between €1,200 and €1,500 a week to stop intimidation of workers at sites in Cherry Orchard.
It also heard officials from the council were aware of what was happening and recommended that the money should be paid.
The details were revealed in a hearing over money seized from two people by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).
High Court Justice Carmel Stewart ruled that the money was the proceeds of crime and accepted CAB’s evidence in its entirety.
The case will return to the High Court later this month for the appointment of a receiver.
In a statement this afternoon, Gardaí confirmed that “certain matters identified in the evidence” brought forward by CAB are the subject of an ongoing parallel criminal investigation.
They said they are also investigating “local incidents” at the building sites.
Dublin City Council has said it will arrange an "independent investigation" into all aspects of its involvement in the matter.
Speaking to Today FM this morning, however, Deputy Howlin said the investigation should be handled by Gardaí.
He said the Local Government Audit Service should be investigating whether there has been any misuse of public money.
“How did it come about? who was aware of it? Is this an isolated case? Or has this been a practice people knew about in other sites?
“I suppose, more worryingly, why has it taken a High Court case for this revelation to be acknowledged by Government and for it to be responded to in the public domain?
“I think the need for an independent Garda investigation is clear-cut.”
Gardaí said they cannot comment further while the matter is before the courts and subject to an ongoing investigation.
Investigators are appealing to anyone who has been subject or knows about “any form of intimidation or extortion.”
They are also calling on the public to report anyone they believe to be living on the proceeds of crime.