DUBLIN, Ireland - Barrister Patrick Butler S.C. has been appointed by the government to review any role Dublin City Council played in the events which culminated in payments by construction companies to stop anti-social behaviour on social housing construction sites.
The appointment follows a recent High Court case during which evidence was presented by An Garda Siochna of sums of money paid to the two defendants in the case which, in respect of at least two of three social housing construction sites, was so-called "protection money" to stop anti-social behaviour.
In carrying out his independent review Mr Butler will examine all relevant files and documents held by the Council as well as interview Council officials and other relevant parties who were involved in the construction projects. Mr Butler will report to the Minister in a month's time on 9 December, 2019.
"I was extremely concerned by the matters that came to light during the recent court case. Local authorities must be able to provide urgently needed social housing, in particular in disadvantaged communities, without interference or obstruction by criminal elements. There must at all times be full oversight, transparency and accountability in the local authority system to ensure that public funding is used for the purposes for which it is intended," Eoghan Murphy, Ireland's Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government said Friday.
"The idea that a public body and public money might be dispersed in respect of criminal behaviour shocked many so we must get to the bottom of this and find out the truth."
"I am confident that Mr Butler has the required expertise to promptly review these matters and establish the truth of what transpired in these particular cases," the minister said.
The terms of reference for the Butler inquiry are as follows:
Report to be prepared by an authorised person, appointed by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government under Section 224 of the Local Government Act 2001, into the alleged role, if any, of Dublin City Council regarding payments made to certain individuals for the purpose of facilitating the protection of social housing developments in Ballyfermot/Cherry Orchard, Dublin, against anti-social behaviour, intimidation of workers and criminal damage.
The purpose of the report is to establish the role, if any, of Dublin City Council, and individual employees of the Council, in the events which culminated in payments to two individuals identified in High Court proceedings case 2018 No. 30 CAB. During these proceedings, evidence presented by An Garda Siochna stated that employees of Dublin City Council facilitated the payment by construction companies of sums of money in the form of protection payments to the defendants in the case to stop antisocial behaviour on social housing construction sites.
In light of the foregoing, the preparation of the report will involve:
Having regard to the judgment delivered by Ms Justice Stewart on 8th October 2019 in case 2018 No. 30 CAB and associated affidavits filed by An Garda Siochna and the Criminal Assets Bureau in this case;
An examination of all written material/records in the possession/under the control of Dublin City Council in relation to the following social housing development projects (hereafter "the Developments"):
The development owned by Dublin City Council at the junction of Cherry Orchard Avenue and Cherry Orchard Drive under construction by Adston Construction Ltd.
The development owned by Cooperative Housing Ireland at the junction of Blackditch Road and Orchard Lawns under construction by MDY Construction Ltd.
The development owned by Dublin City Council at Elmdale Drive under construction by ABM Design and Build.
The examination is for the period from 1 January 2016 to 8 October 2019;
The examination should have particular reference to payments for fence maintenance to two individuals named in Court case 2018 No. 30 CAB;
Conducting interviews, as appropriate and necessary, with relevant employees of Dublin City Council;
Conducting interviews, as appropriate and necessary, on a voluntary basis, with other parties involved in the Developments;
An examination of any funding provided by Dublin City Council for the construction of the Developments and the approval processes within the Council for any such funding;
Making such findings as deemed appropriate in light of the examination; and
Compiling, by 9 December, 2019, a written report in regard to the foregoing.
All written material/records in relation to the Developments in the possession/under the control of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government will be made available to the person appointed to prepare the report. Officials from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government will also be made available to the authorised person.
The authorised person will need to be cognisant of the ongoing Garda investigation and ensure that the report does not in any way encroach on any matter which is more appropriate to the Garda investigation. Any evidence of criminal behaviour that may be identified in the preparation of this report must be provided to An Garda Sochna for the purposes of its investigation.
Subject to any requirements of An Garda Siochna and the Director of Public Prosecutions, for the purpose of this work, information provided or obtained shall be treated as confidential in line with a confidentiality agreement to be signed between the Department and the authorised person.
If any clarification of the Terms of Reference is required, this will be sought in writing as soon as possible by the authorised person and such clarification when provided shall be deemed to constitute part of the Terms of Reference herein and applied accordingly.