Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said he is "greatly disturbed" at reports that officials from Dublin City Council were aware and recommended that protection money be paid to two criminals so council houses could be built in west Dublin.

Speaking at the post Budget press briefing, he acknowledged the role of the Criminal Assets Bureau saying this was another success on their part.

He said there are court proceedings under way and he is restricted on what he can say in relation to the case.

Yesterday the High Court heard that officials from Dublin City Council were aware and recommended that protection money be paid to two violent criminals so that council houses could be built in west Dublin in 2016 and 2017.

The court heard that three building firms working for the city council paid between €1,200 and €1,500 a week to Derek 'Dee Dee' O'Driscoll from Croftwood Grove and "his enforcer" David Reilly from nearby Croftwood Park to prevent the sites and construction staff from being attacked.

Over €250,000 in the men's bank accounts has been declared the proceeds of crime and confiscated by the Criminal Assets Bureau, along with a mobile home and a horsebox.

A CAB officer told the court that council officials told the builders that the two men were "providing security" and "making sure there were no problems" at the sites.

Dublin City Council said it is investigating the matter.

Mr Flanagan said today: "I am greatly disturbed at reports that the county council have been in some way complicit in arrangements which would appear to be totally unacceptable.

"I look forward to receiving further reports on this issue and I trust that if there are any criminal investigations that they would continue apace for and on behalf of the Garda Síochána and other agencies involved."

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has said he "cannot condone" the idea of protection payments to criminal figures to allow construction.

He said he was been assured by Dublin City Council that they are investing the claims.

"If these claims are accurate I cannot condone this activity", he said.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, speaking at the launch of the Garda Síochána diversity and integration strategy this morning, said the investigations are ongoing and there may be more to emerge around this specific incident.

He said he did not want to say anymore because of the ongoing investigations by gardaí and Dublin City Council.

Fianna Fáil's spokesperson on Justice and Equality has said there are options open to have an audit conducted to ensure that protection money has not been paid by other areas of Dublin City Council, or by other local authorities in Dublin.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Jim O'Callaghan said it would be unacceptable that public money is being used to pay off people who are criminals.

He welcomed Dublin City Council’s decision to conduct an independent investigation, and said it must be recognised that the activities being carried out were criminal.

Mr O’Callaghan added that he believes a criminal prosecution should take place if there is sufficient evidence.