The appalling scenes of eviction in Roscommon highlight the urgent need for regulation of private security firms.
What we saw last Tuesday in Roscommon was Bank enforcers, from a private security firm, acting without repercussion and injuring citizens who they were sent to evict.
It was a disgrace, it was unjustified, and it brought to mind scenes from our past of people being thrown onto the side of the road, and I think touched a raw nerve with the community as a whole.
They have behaved liked this because they are allowed, because they are not governed by any law.
It is also not acceptable that the Gardaí apparently allowed this to carry on, according to reports, closing off the road to facilitate the eviction.
My colleague, Deputy Donnchadh O’Laoighaire, first raised this after the appalling way that the peaceful protest at Frederick St in Dublin was handled, with masked heavies carrying out the eviction.
The PSA confirmed in September that those who are undertaking repossessions are not covered by the Private Security Services Act.
The Sinn Féin Bill would amend section 2 of the Private Security Services Act 2004 by adding a new category of security personnel to come within the remit of the act, and under the scope of the Private Security Authority.
For example, Section 29 and 30 of the Private Security Services Act 2004 are explicit in stating that all operating with the sector must identify themselves clearly, and show ID to anyone who requests it, and there are significant fines for those who breach that.
This was clearly not done in Roscommon. This Bill would ensure that no grey area exists with regard to these companies and their obligation to act transparently.
The Bill also provides for the control and supervision of persons providing security; the granting, suspending and revoking of licences, maintaining a register of licensees, issuing identity cards to licensees, specifying qualifications, setting minimum standards of practice, Garda vetting and character checks, and a system of investigation and adjudication of complaints.
It is quite extraordinary that we expect door staff, and people who are doing security in shops in our high street this Christmas to be subject to high standards of regulation. Yet, bank enforcers, who are involved in most intrusive and hard edged areas of security, and indeed potentially violent evictions as we saw last week in Roscommon, such as evictions, aren’t subject to this regulation and licensing.