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New laws to regulate private security employed to enforce eviction orders

Such operators will in future be subject to training standards and a licencing regime, if the legislation is amended.

Updated Apr 9th 2019, 3:26 PM

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE Charlie Flanagan has announced plans to regulate private security employed to assist in enforcing court orders. 

Flanagan ordered his officials to review the situation surrounding these operators, and what regulation existed, in the wake of the removal of a number of activists from a vacant property on Dublin’s North Frederick Street

The incident in September saw a group of individuals working on behalf of the owner moving in to clear protesters out of the occupied building. Gardaí – whose faces  were covered – also attended the scene.

pastedimage-61278-2 Private security operators (in the building doorway) conducted the North Frederick Street eviction last September. Gardaí can be seen in the foreground Source: TheJournal.ie

The conduct of gardaí was criticised, and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris later said he would change how the organisation manages repossessions in the future. While gardaí do not have a role in enforcing court orders, they are required to keep the peace in such situations from time to time. 

The issue of private security operators conducting evictions was thrown into the spotlight again in December, when members of a family were removed from their home during an eviction in Strokestown, Roscommon.

Violence subsequently ensued after a number of other individuals arrived at the scene. 

What the Justice Minister is now proposing is a change in the law that will mean enforcement guards employed to enforce court orders will be subject to the training standards and licencing regime operated by the Private Security Authority (PSA).

Licensing by the PSA includes: 

  • Payment of a fee
  • The vetting of people providing a security service (including directors, shareholders and company secretary of a body corporate. People who reside or have resided outside the jurisdiction are required to submit a foreign criminal record certificate.)
  • Compliance with PSA standards in relation to training and minimum standards for employers

Commenting on his proposals, Flanagan said: “I strongly believe that those providing security should operate to appropriate standards.

“Bringing security personnel enforcing court orders within the remit of the Private Security Authority will mean that enforcement guards will require a license to operate in this area and ensure that they are subject to the training standards and licensing regime operated by the PSA.”

Criticism

Sinn Féin justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that, while he welcomes Flanagan’s commitment to regulate private security firms, more must be done to prevent the flow of people into homelessness.

“Sinn Féin welcomes this move, but it seems to us that the Government is more concerned with how people are evicted than it is about the flow of people into homelessness given it voted down Sinn Féin’s Prevention of Homelessness Bill last week and it refuses to bring forward its own workable solutions,” Ó Laoghaire said.

Regulation may stop people with no vetting or background checks participating in evictions, but it will not prevent evictions.

“The government refuses to bring forward workable solutions to the housing crisis and votes against measures brought forward by the opposition such as the Focus Ireland amendment and the Prevention of Homelessness Bill,” he said.

Flanagan’s proposal for legislative change was endorsed by Cabinet today.

The PSA is already governed by regulations which determine appropriate training and fit and proper guidelines for licenced security personnel.

Officials at the Department of Justice will now work with the Attorney General to bring draft amendments to the Private Security Services Act, 2004.

With reporting from Christina Finn and Hayley Halpin

Comments are closed because a case mentioned remains before the courts

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