An arson attack on a JCB driver has halted work in the construction of 72 units of social housing in Cherry Orchard in Dublin.

Chair of Dublin City Council's Housing Committee Cllr Daithi Doolin condemned the attack, in which petrol was thrown into the cab of a JCB and set alight on Orchard Lawns.

According to gardaí the JCB driver escaped serious injury by jumping from the vehicle but was taken to hospital as a precaution.

"This is an attack on the development, on the workers and in the community. I call on everyone to condemn this" said Cllr Doolin, of Sinn Féin.

The site, which is owned by Dublin City Council, was previously earmarked for social housing but the plan collapsed with the property crash in 2008.

The site then attracted anti-social activity.

However, local people developed a community garden and grotto and planted 100 trees in honour of local people who had died.

City councillors agreed to a plan for a €12m development of 72 three-bed homes by Co-Operative Housing Ireland.

Cllr Doolin said work has now ceased on the site, and called for workers to be given garda protection so it can resume.

The arson attack is believed to have been carried out by one individual but gardaí have not yet made an arrest.

It is the second time this month that the development has been disrupted. A protest by residents prevented workers going onto the site on 5 December.

Last September a car was driven through a steel fence and set on fire at another site in Cherry Orchard which is planned to be developed for modular housing.