Gardai raid home of Mary Lou McDonald's former political ally
BMW and motorbike seized from house of ex-SF councillor while garda divers search aquarium
The home of a former Sinn Féin councillor and close ally to Mary Lou McDonald has been raided by armed gardaí.
Detectives stormed the Dublin property of Jonathan Dowdall (38) early on Thursday.
A BMW car, motorbike, documentation and other valuables were taken by officers shortly after 5.30pm who continued their operations long into the evening.
Members of the Garda Water Unit were also called in to aid in the search.
Sources have revealed that a garda diver entered a large aquarium, thought to be worth "tens of thousands of euro", in the shed of the property.
Gardaí brought in an underwater camera shortly after 3pm. One of the sub-aqua team then brought in air tanks and a breathing mask. It is understood that decision was made in order to protect the fish.
"It was the safest method to search the unit without impeding on the welfare of the fish. There is a duty to protect all animals under the Cruelty to Animals Act," said a source.
The car seized, a white BMW 535d M-Sport, has an estimated value of €85,000.
This price does not include a substantial slew of added extras, including a body kit and carbon fibre bumpers from tuning company Hamann.
The vehicle was so low to the ground that officers seizing the 2014, Dublin-registered car could not get it onto the back of the recovery vehicle.
It was later driven away by plain-clothed detectives.
The motorbike, a BMW HP4 - the most exclusive version of the company's flagship S1000 RR Sports Machine - was then placed on the truck.
The bike is capable of speeds approaching 200mph and is believed to cost close to €25,000.
The garda dog unit was also involved in the probe and was observed searching both inside and outside the semi-detached home on the Navan Road.
Several state-of-the-art CCTV cameras were in position outside the semi-detached property, which is positioned behind large electric gates.
Similar properties close by have recently sold for more than €800,000.
Father-of-four Mr Dowdall was first elected to Dublin City Council in 2014. Serving the North Inner City, he left Sinn Féin and public office less than a year later.
Mr Dowdall, who operates Dowdall Electrical Ltd, trading as ABCO Electrical, said he was leaving the party in September 2014 for health reasons before later agreeing to stay on. He finally quit the party and the city council in February 2015.
He said he was bullied by unnamed party members but never lodged a formal complaint.
In an interview last year, Mr Dowdall, who is originally from the north inner city, said he was targeted by "a certain element within Sinn Fein".
"Bullying is allowed go on in certain parts of Sinn Féin," he said. "There were numerous attacks on myself from a certain element within Sinn Féin, and there were attacks on my team members."
Last night, a Sinn Féin spokesman insisted Mr Dowdall never made any bullying allegations to the party.
Company records obtained by the Irish Independent show Mr Dowdall's firm has failed to file returns since 2013.
The website for ABCO Electrical is still in operation and boasts the HSE and Dublin Airport Authority as its clients.
Last night, North Inner City councillor and former Sinn Fein member Christy Burke said he was surprised to hear that Mr Dowdall's home had been raided.
"He comes from a family of street traders in the city centre; they are honest, hard-working people. He always seemed to be a quiet and shy guy ... When it comes to the council I think he promised people things he couldn't deliver on and he learnt that very quickly.
"He took a lot of heat for that but went back and told them he couldn't deliver."
Source Irish Independent