Extraordinary reports are emerging on a High Court case held earlier this week about the payment of money by contractors to criminals to secure protection at a housing scheme, in this case, a social housing scheme. The details are extraordinary and the reports read like something from a mafia documentary or "The Sopranos". A message must be sent from this House that there is zero tolerance of any such behaviour. As I am very conscious that the case is before the courts, I will not delve into the details of it. However, if the Tánaiste has not done so, I suggest he do so to get a sense of the absolute madness of what is going on.
There are political ramifications for the sharing of information on these cases within government. What we know is that Dublin City Council states it did not pay out any council money, but one of the builders says they were advised by a Dublin City Council official to pay criminals. The Minister of State, Deputy Catherine Byrne, was informed of this by Deputy Ó Snodaigh and says she passed on the information to the Garda. She has not said, however, whether she passed it on to the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, who said the first he had heard of it was yesterday. We also know, as of this morning, that the office of the then Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, was informed of the case and that an acknowledgement was issued that the letter had been received. She did not, however, follow it up with a meeting. Again, this suggests there was knowledge in government of a problem at Dublin City Council and that nothing was done about it.
In September 2016 the Evening Herald carried a front page story about the issue. It led with the headline, BLOODBATH MOB GUARD COUNCIL SITE. The Tánaiste was Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government in September 2016. Did he not follow up on the story? Is this common practice within the local authorities? Has the Government done anything in the past 48 hours to get a sense from Dublin City Council of what is happening and what went on? Does the Tánaiste think it is appropriate for Dublin City Council to carry out its own investigation, or should the Government appoint an outside investigator to get to the bottom of the matter?
What is going on at the heart of Government? Ministers are not exchanging very important information with one another. Surely the Minister of State, Deputy Catherine Byrne, who seems to have history with the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, on other developments, should have brought the case to the attention of her political colleagues also? Surely, given the engagement the Minister and the Minister of State have had on other housing developments, opportunities were presented to her to raise the issue with the Minister to bring this practice to his attention. One would imagine the issue would come up in discussion in planning for and the financing of social housing.
Will the Tánaiste to reflect on these questions and give me the up-to-date position on the Government's understanding of what was revealed in the case?