Dáil Éireann - Volume 556 - 07 November, 2002
Private Security Services Bill, 2001: Second Stage (Resumed).
Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
Mr. Deasy Mr. Deasy
Mr. Deasy: I welcome the Bill, which is a Fine Gael measure in large part. It was originally introduced as a Private Members' Bill in 1999 by former Deputy John Farrelly but was rejected by the coalition Government at that stage. It has been on the table for approximately two years and the timing of its introduction is interesting. A recent “Prime Time” programme highlighted the regulation of bouncers and the violence that occurs in and around nightclubs and pubs, particularly those places that cater for young drinkers. There has been a flurry of interest in the legislation since that programme was televised.
The reason this Bill is before the House is that the Government is afraid the wrong signal will be given to the public by not dealing with this issue. The only reason the Government is paying any attention to this issue is that “Prime Time” is doing documentaries about it. It would not be the first such instance. There was a flurry of Government activity after programmes about clerical sex abuse.
A couple of days ago the Criminal Justice (Illicit Traffic by Sea) Bill was introduced. It dealt with drug interdiction and the fact that in two circumstances the Naval Service, Customs and Excise and An Garda Síochána cannot board vessels with drugs which are coming into or passing this country. It is a matter of national security as  well as a tremendous concern to the law enforcement agencies that this Bill has not passed all Stages in the House and been enacted. In five months the Dáil has not passed any legislation aside from that dealing with the referendum. That is sad. Perhaps if “Prime Time” made a programme about the fact that the Naval Service cannot board vessels and broadcast it on a Tuesday or Thursday night, we might see some action on that legislation.
The Government is reacting to the media and to RTE's programmes. It is not reacting to the priorities in daily life, the issues that are enormously important to people. We have, effectively, government by media.
This Bill is an indictment of the Government and the lack of action in the past few years on issues such as street violence. One is taking one's life into one's hands when one goes out for a drink, particularly in urban areas. The fact that the House is dealing with a Bill to regulate bouncers shows how bad the situation has become. Gardaí cannot do this job because they do not have the resources. This is a stopgap measure, pathetic in some respects, to prevent the violence that is affecting young people today. The industry should be regulated but the message here is that we are losing the battle on the streets, if we have not done so already.
Aside from regulating bouncers, we need to start thinking about regulating the establishments concerned. Superpubs and similar establishments catering specifically for young people have sprung up throughout the country. The phenomenon has increased in the past five years. If no onus of responsibility is put on proprietors to have regard to the consequences of filling a youngster full of alcohol, the situation will get worse. I am not talking about traditional public houses but of the huge superpubs which cater specifically for young people. Unless they have some regard for serving visibly drunk young people, the situation will get worse, if that is possible. That is what gardaí tell me. They are extremely concerned that there is no sense of responsibility on the part of some of these proprietors when it comes to serving drink. They could not care less how smashed these people get or whether, on leaving the premises, they might shove a knife into somebody. If we are to deal with this problem, we will have to impose and enforce an onus of responsibility on the proprietors of such establishments.
The use of CCTV has been urged a great deal in the past three or four years but we have yet to see it. Waterford city is still waiting for it. The town council in Dungarvan has repeatedly asked the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform for a grant to install CCTV. It is told that the prospectus for the system is ready but the application forms are not. That is ridiculous. The Government promised more funds for CCTV but it simply has not delivered. A certain District Court judge voiced a particularly good idea  recently when he said it should be mandatory that CCTV be installed inside and outside every nightclub. The Government should take that on board. We need to do that. Furthermore, any new pub being built should be mandated to have CCTV installed. It would act as a deterrent. The cost would be borne by the proprietor but it would be an effective one.
We have lost the battle for the streets. Bills such as the one before us are necessary but they are an indication of how bad things have become. Gardaí are retiring in massive numbers. It appears there will not be anywhere near the number of gardaí in 2007 that the Government promised before the last election due to the retirement rate. It is particularly worrying that gardaí in the middle management ranks are retiring in numbers we have never previously seen. All the Government is able to do is come up with these “cutesy” measures, as I call them.
Another example is the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill. It came before the House in June and we have not seen it since. It was supposed to be the cure-all for public order offences and street violence. Has the Government conceded that it is a waste of time? Gardaí certainly think so. The Bill does two things – it imposes a barring order on an individual if he or she causes trouble in a premises and, second, shuts down a premises that is the scene or location of continual trouble. Gardaí tell me they do not have the resources to go after young fellows who commit a crime in a particular place. They have a hard enough time dealing with the street crime that already exists. Has the Government finally conceded that the Bill is ineffective for dealing with street violence? I believe it has.
The Bill before the House is purely a licensing measure. I cannot see where the standards are outlined. There is no indication in the Bill of the appropriate standards for the companies to be licensed. With regard to the breaches that occur, we are talking about the unlawful use of force or assault. In effect, the security firms are taking on the role of the Garda Síochána. It is an admission by the Government that there are not enough gardaí to police and protect people.
Sections 16, 17 and 18 deal with declarations of interest and the propriety of discharge of any Government function. The provisions are necessary but they are also an indication of the Government's failure to enact comprehensive anti-corruption legislation. We will probably see these provisions in other Bills but if this problem is to be dealt with effectively, the Minister will have to pass comprehensive anti-corruption legislation.
The current Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform inherited the failed legacy of zero tolerance. I agree with many of the things the Minister has done since taking office and some of his ideas are innovative. However, unless the Government prioritises crime and starts putting the necessary resources into the Garda Síochána to deal with  street violence nothing will improve. The crime statistics issued every three or four months will only get worse unless it is made clear that if a person commits a public order offence he or she will go to prison. Middle class people laugh at the idea that judges will order offenders to pay €200 or €300 into the court poor box. A fine of €300 for a first public order offence is not a deterrent. Parents must understand that they are responsible for the actions of their children, otherwise they will not give a damn.
The situation has become so bad that we will be back here in a year's time to debate introducing the Army reserve into urban areas, rather than licensing private security firms and bouncers to protect people outside clubs. The Garda Síochána has admitted it cannot do it, which is an indication that the Government has failed in this. The Minister may say that is my opinion, but it is the opinion of the general public and the Garda Síochána. It has been proven by the crime statistics that have been issued over the past two years.
Unless crime and related issues are prioritised and the Garda Síochána is properly resourced the problem will become worse and more people will be stabbed and shot on the streets of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford. It is not a laughing matter. The Minister has not dealt with it and zero tolerance has failed. We have been here for five months, yet the House has not passed any legislation to deal with this problem. The Oireachtas committees were formed yesterday to deal with all sorts of legislation but five months into the new Dáil we are still waiting for the Public Order Bill to go through the House. It is pathetic.
Mr. Costello Mr. Costello
Mr. Costello: I compliment the Minister of State, Deputy O'Dea, on his new position. I hope he does as good a job as he did in adult second-chance education in his previous portfolio. I welcome the Bill. I recall that the former Minister for Justice, Nora Owen, originally established the consultative group on the private security industry. The group's report was produced towards the end of 1997 and the former Fine Gael Deputy, John Farrelly, produced a Private Members' Bill the following year which sought to implement the recommendations of that report. Fine Gael certainly has a strong tradition of trying to control the private security services industry.
This Bill effectively seeks to implement the recommendations of the consultative group's report five years later, but if the Government had accepted former Deputy Farrelly's Bill it could have been done in March 1998. This area has been neglected and should have been dealt with long ago, so the legislation is long overdue. An excellent report was produced in 1997 by all sectors concerned with the private security industry as represented on the consultative group, including the Garda Síochána, IBEC, the trade union movement and the private security industry itself. While that report was clear and concise, the same cannot be said for this Bill's provisions, wording,  presentation, headings and sections, which do not clearly designate the relevant sectors as they should. There should be a clear delineation between the providers of private security services and their employees. The manner in which the legislation is presented is confusing. It would have been more desirable if a clear distinction could have been made from the beginning, so that the duties and standards required for each section could be clearly presented. Yet the confusion continues.
The private security industry is in need of proper regulation and control, and I welcome the proposal to establish the private security authority in order to control and supervise individuals and firms providing security services. In his contribution yesterday, the Minister stated that “society has undoubtedly become more security conscious” in recent times, and the work of private security companies “has broadened into new areas and occupational activities”. It has become pervasive in many aspects of our lives, yet there has not been any proportionate regulation and control of the industry, which has been neglected entirely.
During the debate on, the former Deputy Farrelly's Private Members Bill in 1998, the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O'Donoghue, made an amazing statement when he said:
The Government should only regulate where there is clear need to do so or where the public interest would be served by such regulation.
For crying out loud, surely there was a clear need to regulate this industry? The previous Minister's inane and self-serving statement makes a mockery of any meaningful response from the Government.
The current Minister's statement indicated yesterday that the private security industry is quite large with an annual turnover of €250 million. That is a substantial figure. He indicated also that approximately 400 companies are involved in it, although I am sure the figure is larger now since the same number was quoted in the 1997 report. I presume, therefore, that at least 500 companies are currently involved. Some 12,000 people are estimated to be working in the industry on a permanent basis, as distinct from part-time employees and those working in the black economy, which is probably as many again. Those figures are substantial compared to the current strength of the Garda Síochána. It shows therefore that the private security sector employs more people to enforce the law of the land than the State does. No one would suggest that we should not regulate the behaviour of the Garda Síochána, yet until now we have not lifted a finger to regulate the private security industry.
Those involved in the provision of private security services, particularly door supervisors – known as bouncers – at night-clubs and other venues, are undertaking a particularly difficult job. They are on the front line in providing secur ity for the owners and customers of such premises. Their work involves an enormous degree of responsibility and most of those in the trade take the job very seriously. Most do a good job but, as we well know, there are unfortunate exceptions.
Members of this House may be familiar with the case of a young Corkman, Adrian Moynihan, who died tragically as a result of a fracas with a bouncer at Sidetrax night club in Cork city on 25 March 2001. This tragic event was brought home to television viewers in graphic terms when video footage from the incident showed a very strenuous headlock on the young man by a bouncer which led eventually to the removal of the victim by ambulance and his subsequent death. Thankfully, this matter was forwarded to the DPP for investigation so that the family and friends of Mr. Moynihan might see some closure to the case.
During the hearing of the case the bouncer admitted that he received no training in security duties and that he did not know how to handle people, particularly in such extreme situations. There did not seem to be any training in health and safety matters such as for an evacuation if there was a difficulty with a fire or whatever in the club. Clearly that incident gives a graphic account of how a person who is not trained can be responsible for a fatal incident. It shows the need to ensure proper standards and regulations for the industry.
Thankfully, this type of incident is by no means common, but it raised in many people's minds the whole question of the controls and provisions which are in place to regulate the private security industry. Most people never have to cross swords with bouncers or security, but those who set out to deliberately create trouble or violence in a club or other venue need to be dealt with in a fair manner, without recourse to excessive violence.
There is anecdotal evidence from many quarters that some security personnel are prone to over-step the mark and act in an overtly aggressive manner towards customers on a premises. Indeed, there have been numerous court cases in recent years involving assault of individuals by security personnel who over-stepped the mark in carrying out their duties. There is a sense among some security personnel that there are no limits to which they can go to deal with a chaotic or violent situation. Some door supervisors, in particular, do not deal with problems proportionately. I say “some” because, as with so many professions, a few have given everyone else a bad name.
RTE's “Prime Time” programme recently screened an exposé on the private security industry. What was abundantly clear from that programme was the extraordinary lack of regulation and control in the sector and how easy it is for anyone to become a front line door supervisor, bouncer or other security person, even with little or no training or qualifications. It has been suggested that it would be quite easy for a convicted criminal just released from prison to join a private  security company. That revelation shows the true extent of this problem and proves how necessary is this legislation.
The whole area of recruitment and training in the estimated 400 private security firms in existence is at the heart of the problem we are considering and I am concerned that this is an issue not properly addressed in the Bill. Surely there should be some basic requirements and standards for the training and recruitment of security staff. There should be regulations governing the nature, extent and timescale of training. There should also be a strict set of guidelines to deal with the recruitment of security staff. How rigorous are the criteria for recruitment? Are size and strength the only requirements? There are no directions here regarding the authority. Surely brain is more important than brawn, even in the security business.
I hope the proposed private security authority will lay down comprehensive and stringent guidelines and standards for training, even though there is no direction in the Bill to that end, and that the authority will be given every resource necessary from Government to do so. There is little point in the Minister saying, as he did last night, that everyone in the industry should behave to a high standard unless there are guidelines and regulations to ensure this is the case and adequate penalties are in place to ensure that those who breach those guidelines are punished.
As I said, one of the major flaws in the Bill is that it does not make a clear distinction between providers of security services and their employees. This results in it being confusing legislation. The legislation should deal with each separately and spell out the standards required in each case. Indeed, a cursory reading of the Bill and its headings would suggest that it deals only with employers who provide security services. Section 35, which is a small section, creates part of the confusion regarding how the Bill will operate. It states: “A person shall not employ a person to provide a security service if that person is required to, but does not, hold a licence to provide the service”. It seems, according to that section, that not all providers of security services will need to hold a licence. Is that the case? This Bill should provide that all security service providers are licensed. There is something seriously wrong with the manner in which that is presented and the Minister needs to clarify it.
In Part 3, section 21, on the licences to provide security services, which to my mind is the key section, there are very few requirements. It states that an application for a licence shall be accompanied by a fee and “such references as to the applicant's character, financial position and competence as the Authority may require”, but later it states: “The Authority may require . . . ” The critical area here is section 21(3)(c), which states that the Authority may “require the applicant to supply a certificate by a member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of superintendent . . . ”. If one of the constituents of the  Minister of State, Deputy O'Dea, applied before the general election to be entered on the supplementary register of electors, he or she would have had to go to the Garda station and get a special form signed by a Garda not below the rank of superintendent to identify him or her as the citizen concerned. If that is required in those circumstances, surely the least we should require here is a Garda certificate of fitness signed by a Garda not below the rank of superintendent for everybody working in this industry. The Minister cannot provide for less. This is the most sensitive area of business operations because it provides a security service.
The report of the consultative group readily acknowledged that criminal elements infiltrated the industry. Therefore unsavoury characters can quite easily become employees of security firms and there are many such employees at present because there are no standards or regulations and no licensing system. What is to stop unsavoury elements coming from central and eastern Europe who have been involved in the security forces in those countries. We know that some of them are in Ireland. Only a couple of weeks ago, the door supervisor for the well known night club, Lillies Bordello, was convicted of assault on a young husband and wife entering the club. It transpired that he had been a member of the special forces in one central European country which has been well noted for its unsavoury behaviour in terms of ethnic killing and so on. These are areas at which the Minister must look seriously. He should consider as a requirement a certificate of fitness from the Garda Síochána.
I would like to refer to a number of other issues. The plan to be drawn up by the private security services authority is very important. An initial plan will be drawn up and revised for each subsequent three year period. The plan should be presented to the House for debate. The contents of the strategic plan will be all important and will include the criteria for licensing. How will the register operate? Will it be subject to freedom of information legislation?
How will the identity card system work? Someone who works in the security business should not merely carry a concealed identity card available only to a member of the Garda or a person in authority. Why should such a person not wear a badge at all times if he or she is to interface with the public? Private security personnel should wear an identifying mark rather than simply carry ID in their pockets which would not be available to the public on demand. A person could pretend to be a bouncer at a nightclub and behave like a heavy if he wanted to cause trouble. The legislation is wrong in not requiring visible identification for those in the security business, particularly those working as outdoor supervisors.
Training standards are important but the Bill is silent on this matter. It will be left to the private security authority to determine these standards. Who will deliver them? Is there a school of security services in existence? There is none to my  knowledge and the Minister has not referred to one. There are now approximately 12,000 security people in the open economy who, apart from some informal training, are all untrained. Surely we need a school to provide the training services required by this legislation. We need a clear statement of what those standards will be. Will the training standards for the businesses who are the providers of security services differ from those required of employees who will be the frontline people dealing with the public? Surely there is a huge psychological aspect to training. We do not want people for whom brawn is everything. People can be attracted to this industry because they are heavies and enjoy the power it gives them. We must identify the training standards required.
How will the complaints mechanism operate? This is dealt with to some extent by the Bill. How will the inspectors operate? How many inspectors will be employed and what resources will be given to that sector? If legislation is not adequately enforced we might as well not enact it.
The Minister must give the House a commitment that when the strategic plan is put together by the authority it will be brought to the House for debate. The plan will be the template for the regulation, operation, licensing and control of the security industry in the future. We should get things right as soon as possible and from the very beginning.
Because the security industry is not regulated we do not know the extent of the black economy in the industry. However, we know it is huge. We also know that there is very low pay, low standards, long hours and exploitation in the sector. This aspect of the industry must be examined. Every proper company involved in the security industry wants to see it regulated and operated properly but we must come to grips with the section of the industry which operates in the black economy and ensure that the elements which are giving the entire industry a bad name are rooted out.
The role of members of the Defence Forces, the Garda Síochána and the Prison Service presents a serious question. Anecdotal evidence suggests that large numbers of these forces moonlight in the private security services, particularly as doormen and bouncers. The Garda Commissioner has requested that members of the Garda voluntarily inform him of their intention to moonlight outside their normal work. I would love to know how many gardaí have volunteered that information to the Commissioner. I would speculate that they could be counted on the fingers of my two hands. I would be surprised to hear that the Commissioner has a massive database of gardaí who are working in the private security industry.
Is this a proper function for members of the security forces? What should we do about it? Will members of the security forces be regulated by this legislation? Will they be licensed and carry identity cards? The Minister should give this mat ter some thought before he brings the Bill back to the House for its next Stage.
I hope the Revenue Commissioners will turn their attention to this sector once it is regulated. I know many people working in this sector who are poorly paid. Surely it is time those working in the security business had trade union regulation if they request it. The Bill should state that security providers or employees of security providers may join the trade union of their choice. We should encourage citizens to organise collectively in relation to pay and conditions of work. The Minister should reflect on this before the Bill returns to the House.
I welcome the Bill although had I been drafting it I would have done so differently from the Minister. The Bill should state more clearly what it is intended to do. It should make a clear distinction between security firms who are employers and individual security providers. Because the Bill does not do this it will be difficult to impose the different standards required on those who will be licensed as employers and those who will be licensed as front line people delivering the service. We look forward to the opportunity of teasing it out and looking at the individual sections of the Bill. The Bill is very necessary and it will be in the interests of the industry and the public.
Mr. McHugh Mr. McHugh
Mr. McHugh: I wish to share my time equally with Deputies Cuffe and Ó Snodaigh.
Acting Chairman (Mr. O'Shea)
Acting Chairman (Mr. O'Shea): Is that agreed? Agreed.
Mr. McHugh Mr. McHugh
Mr. McHugh: I welcome the introduction of this Bill and I very much appreciate the opportunity to speak on it today. I compliment the Minister on his initiative in introducing the Bill because it deals with an aspect of Irish life that has been allowed to operate without any control, regulation or sanction for far too long. For a long time, there have been demands for the introduction of controls in the security industry, but to the shame of all those with responsibility for this matter, nothing was done.
The Bill deals with the entire private security industry, including suppliers and installers of security equipment, private investigators, private security employers, security guards, door supervisors, etc. “Door supervisor” is the fashionable term for the old-fashioned term “bouncer”. I will address this area this afternoon. In many cases, the criterion for the selection of door supervisors or bouncers was: “The bigger the bruiser, the better”. That description underlines the urgent need for control in this area. I have witnessed people operating as bouncers who were totally unsuited to the job. This is for many reasons, not least because of their inability to communicate in a reasonable manner, but also, in many cases, because of their seedy backgrounds and general violent behaviour.
 We have had many high-profile cases where the actions of bouncers have had devastating, tragic results, sometimes leading to loss of life. Those cases are the ones highlighted by the media, but there are other incidents occurring on a nightly basis where young people in particular are treated in an appalling way by bouncers.
The very fact that young people go out to socialise means that, after a night's entertainment, they may be in high spirits. Therefore, it is essential that people dealing with such matters be trained to relate to people and not just rely on the old thinking that people in high spirits have to be taught a lesson, and then administer that lesson by brute force.
We have had cases of young people disappearing late at night, sometimes after being ejected from discos and nightclubs. The ejection may have occurred because they consumed too much drink, or they may have consumed some other substance, in many cases without having realised that they consumed the substance. The method of dealing with such circumstances is to throw such people out on to the public footpath and abandon them in their deranged state. Then they have to survive amidst all the dangers inherent in our society, which are undoubtedly amplified in the early hours of the morning.
We cannot lose sight of the fact that alcohol has been consumed on the premises – the evidence would support this – but there is no sanction for the proprietor who has served the young people with too much alcohol. Their solution is to employ a big brute to teach the young people a lesson.
I regret that placing responsibility in this regard is not dealt with in this Bill and I ask the Minister to give some consideration to this issue. I know the principal purpose of the Private Security Authority, which is to be set up under this Bill, will be, amongst other things, to operate a licensing system for providers of security services. However, it does not refer to the necessity to develop a code of practice for the industry and this is a deficiency that needs to be addressed.
Section 2 deals with the membership of the Private Security Authority. The membership of the authority includes a barrister or solicitor, representatives of security employers and employees, a nominee of the Garda Commissioner and staff representatives, but I regard the composition of the authority to be deficient because there is no specific stipulation that young people be represented on it. This is a very serious omission because bouncers deal mostly with young people. Therefore, the people at the coalface, i.e. the young people, should be represented on this authority.
The Bill provides for the issuing of identity cards to licence holders and requires the licensees to have the identity cards in their possession and to produce them on request to a Garda, a member of staff of the authority or a person for whom the licensee provides security services. That is not good enough because the licensee should be  required to wear an identity tag so he can be identified at all times when providing security services, just as members of An Garda Síochána have to wear an identity number when on duty. Otherwise, how could a member of the public who has a complaint against a bouncer identify that bouncer?
Because of the element of riff-raff and people of bad character who work as bouncers at the moment – I am not saying that all bouncers are people of bad character, but there are many blackguards in the industry – it should be compulsory for people seeking a licence to have Garda clearance. Section 31 says that the authority “may” request the Garda to provide information on an applicant for a licence, but that is not strong enough. It should be compulsory that Garda clearance be required.
The private security industry and particularly bouncers, or door supervisors as they are now called, have much to do to gain the respect of the public. Their behaviour down the years has been totally unacceptable. People were subjected to physical abuse and often ejected from premises for no good reason or ejected at two or three in the morning without the opportunity to bring with them their personal effects such as clothes, coats or money and left on their own, often with tragic consequences.
This Bill will go a long way towards ensuring that the public is protected and will help to impose a certain respectability on the private security industry. Again, I thank the Minister for introducing this Bill because it is so badly needed to regulate the industry. The industry was crying out for regulation and it is certainly a poor reflection on previous Governments that they allowed the situation to continue unchecked. I have no doubt that lives could have been saved if action had been taken earlier, and the trauma experienced by many people at the hands of bouncers could have been avoided.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh Aengus Ó Snodaigh
Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Ba mhaith liom ar dtús a lua go bhfuil spéis ar leith agam san ábhar seo mar tá deartháir agam a chuireann córas rabhaidh ar fáil. Tá comhlucht dá chuid féin aige. Ba mhaith liom a rá go dtacaím go hiomlán leis an mbogadh seo chun go mbeadh reachtaíocht éigin ann chun na comhlachtaí agus na daoine atá ag obair ar dhóirsí mar bouncers a eagrú i gceart agus chun go mbeadh ceadúnais agus traeneáil ceart acu. Tacaímid go hiomlán leis an bhogadh seo sa dóigh is go mbeidh na comhlachtaí seo agus daoine ag obair ar dhoirse faoi reachtaíocht éigin agus go mbeidh siad eagraithe le ceadúnais agus go traenáil acu.
Regulation is important if it is well handled, especially in a sensitive sector such as this, and can be positive for the industry, the consumer and society. We are pleased this industry is to be regulated. It is a rare occurrence and we wish to see it happen in other areas. We would all like to see a situation where private security companies are  adequately licensed, scrutinised and called to account for mismanagement or abuse.
Ba cheart go mbeadh foirne na gcomhlachtaí seo traenáilte i gceart, go mbeidís rialaithe agus go mbeidís i gceardchumann. Ba mhaith linn go mbeadh an módh oibre seo bunaithe ar an chleachtadh is fearr, cibé run a dhéanann siad, go mbeadh caighdeán leagtha síos maidir leis an méid nirt a bhaintear úsáid as nuair is gá, go mbeadh caighdeán cearta daoine leagtha síos d'achan duine sa tseirbhís agus go mbeadh a fhios acu ar fad na dualgais atá acu maidir leis an dhlí, go háirithe an t-Acht Stadas Cothroma.
We want to ensure that security companies and their employees maintain a positive relationship with their communities and the Garda Síochána. This legislation has the potential to ensure that this sector has a positive role to play. We welcome the proposed creation of a private security authority in that it should strengthen the accountability of service providers and prevent abuses. Such accountability and good practice is fundamental, regardless of whether the security providers are from the Garda Síochána, the military or the private sector.
Tacaímid leis na príomhchodanna den Bhille – ag cruthú údaráis slándála príobhaideacha, córas ceadúnais agus córas comhfhiosrú a dhéanamh, cinnithe a ghlacadh maidir le gearáin agus bórd athamharc le féachaint ar chásanna a rachfadh go hathamharc. Fáiltímid roimh moltaí go socrófar caighdéan traenála mar caithfidh traenáil bheith tugtha d'achan duine ag obair sa tseirbhís seo agus go mbeadh caighdeán difriúl ar fáil do dhaoine difriúla sna gnéithe difriúla den obair seo. Ní gá go dtabharfaí traenáil iomlán do dhuine atá ag obair ar shuíomh tógála i gcomparáid le duine ag obair ar dhoras. Caithfidh go dtabharfaí cáighdeán difriúl traenála do dhuine atá ar lorg oibre ar dhoras nó ag tabhairt slándála príobhaideacha do dhaoine.
We believe it would be of benefit if the membership of the proposed authority was to be diversified. At present it is proposed that membership will be drawn from representatives of the industry and the Garda Síochána. However, there is no provision for representation from the unions, civil and human rights activists or advocates or the communities which are directly affected by private security service. This should be addressed on Committee Stage.
When the authority is established it must ensure that all licensed companies and individuals act in conformity with human rights standards. The right to privacy must be understood and adhered to and there must be full compliance with all related legislation in this area. Given Ireland's diversity and the danger that prejudice could have a negative impact on decision making, resulting in unnecessary cases being brought before the Equality Authority, all licensees should be required to be thoroughly trained in equality issues and be aware of their obligations under the Equal Status Act. This applies to both employers and employees in the industry. This is  anti-racism in the workplace week and I hope that when the legislation is enacted it will be a vehicle for change in this area.
In the interests of fairness and transparency the licensing criteria set out in sections 21 and 22 must be specified and clarified by the authority and made specific to the various sub-sectors in the industry. Sinn Féin wants to ensure that workers in this sector have good working conditions and the ability to be unionised. Ultimately, we wish to see the sector fully unionised.
Sinn Féin also wishes to ensure that the complaints mechanism outlined in section 36 has adequate teeth. Its powers are not fully clear. We wish to ensure that an annual report is published to monitor the trends in the various sub-sectors of the industry and to list how many people are involved in it.
I agree with Deputy Costello that there is a need to tackle moonlighting by members of the Garda Síochána. That aspect must be fully regulated and a directive should be issued that gardaí do no engage in this type of work. They cannot have it both ways.
We support this legislation. However, there is concern that its provisions and future regulation may lead to the inevitable privatisation of security in this State, leading to the greater deployment of private security in support of civil authorities. This is especially so given the state of the public finances and the widespread recognition that the current deployment of the Garda Síochána is hardly adequate to meet public needs. In most of the area I represent the Garda presence is totally inadequate. Some stations appear to be operative on a part-time basis despite the rise in crime in their areas.
While Garda resources are inadequate, I hope that will not lead some to call for the privatisation of security in the State. We should not contemplate this. Privatised security and the privatisation of policing and prison services in other countries, such as Africa, Latin America and Australia, or even the United States, has had consequences in terms of serious human rights violations, sub-standard conditions and, in many cases, deaths. Some will argue that regulation in advance of privatisation would address these aspects, but the evidence of this is conflicting.
While I fully support the Bill I ask the Minister to address my concerns. I hope in the future there will be no deaths related to this sector or to the activities of those involved in night work. I also hope that cases against security staff are dealt with as quickly as possible and that those in the industry charged with human rights abuses or assaults are no longer allowed to work at the doors of night clubs or whatever.
This happened in a recent high profile case in Dublin where a couple managed to win an award against Lillies Bordello because of the activities of one of the bouncers. That same bouncer assaulted my own brother and has another charge pending, which means he was left in a position  to assault others while prior assault charges were made against him. It is not acceptable that people are allowed to continue in security work where they have been charged in regard to assaults while on door security.
Mr. Cuffe Mr. Cuffe
Mr. Cuffe: The Green Party welcomes the publication of the Bill. I compliment a previous Minister for Justice, Nora Owen, who commissioned the report by the consultative group on the private security industry back in 1997. That was a very impressive report.
There have been a number of disquieting incidents in regard to so-called bouncers at entertainment venues using excessive force resulting in young people getting injured. Quite apart from the use of force, the attitude of security staff has left something to be desired in recent years. The report highlighted mismanagement and bad working conditions among security firms but on a far more sinister note it also implied that there was paramilitary and criminal involvement within the industry and for that reason alone, if not for any of the others, there is a need for action.
The Bill does not go far enough. We are concerned about the potential exemptions in section 3. I am not a parliamentary draftsman but there appears to be a possible ambiguity in section 3(f) which makes me worry that not all members of security firms would have to register with the new authority being created. As the Member from Sinn Féin pointed out, it is crucial that we know who is working in the sector. There have been many reports of double jobbing in the industry by members of the Garda Síochána and if we could wipe that out we could create much needed employment.
There is one very simple change that is needed in the legislation in regard to identification of security firm staff. From the experience of colleagues and friends in Australia, I have some knowledge of how the industry is carried out there. In Australia any security worker who is in the public domain has to have a clearly identifiable number on his or her front and back, almost akin to having a number plate on a car, but in letters, perhaps eight inches high. This would ensure that when an incident of aggression occurred at a nightclub door or other premises, the public would clearly know who was involved. We need to go far beyond section 27 which refers only to the carrying of identification cards. I know personally of many cases where problems have arisen due to the difficulty in identifying which member of a security firm was involved. In the same way that the Garda Síochána carry, or are supposed to carry, their identification number on their epaulettes, security firms should carry much larger numbers on their uniform that are clearly visible to the public.
There is a strong need for training in this area. I compliment the Garda Síochána for the assistance it provided in this regard to private security firms in Cork city. I am not sure how formalised the training was but there are reports that it was  carried out by the Garda in regard to security duties. We could take that a bit further and have a minimum standard of training for people who are actively engaged with the public.
With regard to the exemptions in Part III, I believe that any member of the Garda should be clearly identified whether on or off duty. We have to ensure that double jobbing does not happen. There is also exemption for apprentices and that is a potential loophole in the law. I suggest we put a three week time limit on the training of apprentices to ensure we do not have security firms with a large number of apprentices still on their books many years after they are recruited.
Identification numbers would be a relatively simple change and we could look at the Road Traffic Acts to see how to go about that. Security people should be clearly identified and the exemptions should be a lot narrower to ensure the public know who is involved in a security service. We have to clean up the industry both at a management level but also at a more sinister level where there is evidence of the involvement of paramilitary or criminal organisations. This Bill has merit and I am glad the Government is putting it forward. I hope we can make suitable detailed amendments to it at a later stage.
Mr. Andrews Mr. Andrews
Mr. Andrews: I too welcome the Bill. Often legislation is prepared simply because a new Minister arrives in a Department and we end up being over regulated with layer upon layer of legislation. In this instance I deem the Bill to be very necessary.
It is not long since I was face to face with the doormen of Dublin, which I found a daunting prospect. I am sure this Bill will be a positive development for security on our streets. In Dún Laoghaire we have a problem on Marine Road and rumours abound about the nature of the goings on there.
Much of the debate up to now focused on doormen but the Bill deals with other areas such as private investigators, which is also commendable. This area has been broadly ignored but it is a growing industry and a very useful one in terms of protecting us against fraudulent claims. Private investigators have managed to undo some of the most complex webs of deceitful claims brought before the courts and are to be commended for it. At the same time, regulation is necessary because we are dealing with an area that is sensitive for reasons of civil liberties, apart from anything else.
To its credit, Fine Gael introduced a Private Members Bill on this area before. Much of the criticism today has focused on the delay in bringing the Bill forward as the report was produced in 1997 or 1998. It is a very sensitive area and one that should be addressed correctly and properly. Hopefully that will occur on Committee Stage.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle Rory O'Hanlon
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Does the Deputy intend to share time?
Mr. Andrews Mr. Andrews
 Mr. Andrews: I intend to share with Deputy Glennon. With respect to the contents of the Bill we have many cases in the courts regarding private security firms. Where a criminal case is involved concerning the circumstances covered by the Bill it should be open to a judge to seek the authorities' opinion on a private security firm much like a trial judge might seek a probation report from the probation service. Equally it should be open to a trial judge to ask the authorities for an opinion on private investigators or private security firms to help him or her make up his or her mind about the standing of that firm and previous complaints against it etc.
When proposing the legislation the Minister indicated that it was on foot of much technological progress that has taken place in this area. I have come across a number of nightclubs that have CCTV installed at their entrances. When one is aware that CCTV is in operation at the entrance it can have a sobering effect on one's behaviour. We need to allow the authority and the private security appeal board to attach conditions to licences. I am not sure if that is envisaged in the Bill. For example, a private security firm would need to have CCTV in order to ensure that it carries out its work in a safe manner. That is something that should be considered in the operation of the private security appeal board.
If the licence is taken from a private security firm we should consider if it can be reissued. A PSV licence is withdrawn from an individual for three years if he or she is convicted of a road traffic offence. Perhaps the Minister will clarify if a private security firm can apply for a reissue of a licence.
Section 21 deals with evidence of character and is the most important part of the Bill. It calls upon the authority to make these investigations. I would query, if not object to, the reference to the financial position of an applicant. What circumstances would require the Minister to investigate the financial position of an applicant? If this provision is intended to ensure a person is tax compliant it should be spelled out more clearly. I cannot foresee a circumstance where someone's financial position should be examined by the authority.
Section 32 envisages an ongoing investigation by the authority whereby a licensee is obliged to provide evidence of his or her licence on inspection by the authority or the Garda Síochána. That is to be welcomed. What steps are taken if somebody is unable to produce the licence on request? Is the premises closed down or is the security firm required to cease operation? Is the premises expected to carry on business without security?
I echo the comments made by other Deputies regarding training. Any applicant should be versed with provisions of the Equal Status Act, 2000, as it applies to those against whom discrimination is prohibited. They should also be versed in Garda powers. In many cases these men are large – like Deputy Glennon who is looking at  me – and many of them would benefit from some training in controlling their brute strength.
Mr. Costello Mr. Costello
Mr. Costello: Like Deputy Glennon.
Mr. Andrews Mr. Andrews
Mr. Andrews: Of course they are provoked in circumstances of high inebriation. These are difficult circumstances with which to deal. The authority should require a high standard of proof that the men and women who are hired to protect are well trained in those matters. I urge the House to pass Second Stage of this Bill.
Mr. Glennon Mr. Glennon
Mr. Glennon: I welcome this Bill and thank the Minister for prioritising it. I wish him well in steering it through the Oireachtas. I pay tribute to the former Deputy, Nora Owen, who commissioned the initial report. This is my first contribution on legislation as a Member of this House. The irony is not lost on me that I should be doing so on legislation that Mrs. Owen – to some extent I now occupy her seat – played such a large part in framing. I pay tribute to her and know this was an issue of major concern to her.
I congratulate the different interested parties that have been involved in bringing the Bill to this stage. The professional and trade organisations involved in the security industry have taken a major interest in having the matter brought this far. I look forward to their continued co-operation and persistence, not only in bringing matters to a conclusion, but in taking a full part in the authority when it is formed. While there is a provision in the Bill for a role for employers and employees, I believe the professional associations are the ground-level experts and should have a major voice in the authority. Another contributor said that there was no allowance made for trade union involvement. There is provision in the Bill for employee involvement.
Mr. Costello Mr. Costello
Mr. Costello: It is not the same thing.
Mr. Glennon Mr. Glennon
Mr. Glennon: The Bill is timely. It is important that the media-friendly issue of doormen and bouncers is not allowed to dominate the debate. This Bill is broad in its scope covering the gamut of the security industry. It covers everything from bouncers to armoured cars. While the media has a particular interest in the aspects of the Bill that relate to doormen – a lot of attention has been given to that already – it is not appropriate that that aspect should be allowed dominate. The security industry is huge. The 400 active companies employ around 22,000 people. Those are important figures which should be borne in mind throughout the debate. The men and women on the doors of establishments that my younger colleagues frequent to a greater degree than me capture the attention, but the issue should not be allowed to dominate.
It is important that the new authority will not only operate a licensing system and provide a register of licence providers, but that it will also  set training standards. Reference has been made to the importance of this aspect of the work of the new authority. I am aware that some of the professional associations in the industry are working with FÁS in this regard. That is an area that will be of crucial importance in the implementation of the Bill. The Bill's provisions in this area have received maximum attention in the debate as a result of recent bad publicity and the experience of younger Members of this aspect of private security services.
I am aware of a case involving a doorman who was in fancy dress while working at a club on a theme night. He was unidentifiable to the patrons who were trying to gain access. This was a high profile case that went to court and it cost the would-be patron. The case involved mistaken identity which arose because the individual fulfilling the role of doorman was attired as a Bedouin sheikh. That is utterly unacceptable and this issue should be brought to the attention of the new authority. The patron became involved in an altercation as a result of this mistaken identity and it cost him dearly both financially and in terms of reputation. I look forward to the day when such an occurrence will not be possible.
Deputy Cuffe stated there should be a requirement on security men in dance clubs to be adequately identifiable. That is not practical as a vitally important part of a security service is the undercover nature of a substantial portion of its work. It would be extremely difficult to implement appropriate security if every member of the security staff at a venue was clearly identifiable to patrons.
I am proud I am the son of a publican. Both my grandfathers were publicans and a number of my uncles on both sides of my family were publicans. The sections of the legislation dealing with licensed premises are of particular interest to me, particularly the role of such premises in our culture and their evolution from old family-run pubs to the current fad for super pubs. I grew up in a small family-run pub and at that time the role of licensee as owner-barman was important. There was no need for bouncers in those days. The owner-licensee decided when the patron had had enough and, invariably, the patron respected his view.
However, as we have entered the era of the super pub, licensed premises are suffering from a lack of staff supervision and training and a lack of experienced staff. The vast majority of staff in the larger pubs are students who do a few nights work to earn a few euro to put themselves through college. There is a distinct absence of hands-on management. The standards that applied decades ago have vanished in super pubs and can only be experienced in the relatively small number of owner-run pubs that remain. The super pub phenomenon is not a matter directly related to the legislation but it is an issue that must be addressed. Consideration should be given to the size of an area licensed to sell intoxicating liquor but that is an issue for another day.
 Deputy McHugh referred in his contribution to the difficulties relating to public disorder at certain times of the night as people emerge from licensed premises. This reminded me of a legal precedent which states that where something escapes from one property to another and causes damage to the latter property, the owner of the property from which it escaped is liable for the damage. Could that precedent be applied to public order offences involving patrons emerging from licensed premises? This relates to my earlier point regarding the standards applied in owner-run pubs and those being observed by the owners of super pubs. It is a moot point as to whether they apply standards.
Deputy Deasy referred to the possibility of providing for parental responsibility for the acts of individuals emerging from pubs. In theory, to enter a licensed premises and consume intoxicating liquor one must be an adult legally, that is, over 18 years. It would be almost impossible under the terms of the Constitution to apply parental responsibility for the acts of other adults, some of whom may well be parents themselves. I do not know whether that is practical. Publicans must take greater responsibility for the premises they run. Their level of responsibility has reduced dramatically and it is something to which we must revert.
I thank Deputy Andrews for sharing time and I commend the Bill. I look forward very much to the implementation of the legislation and the continued participation of the professional bodies involved in the industry in the smooth implementation of the legislation.
Mr. Coveney Mr. Coveney
Mr. Coveney: I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate on this important legislation. I congratulate the previous speaker on his maiden contribution and I thank him for the recognition he gave to the former Minister for Justice, Nora Owen, who was responsible for putting a consultative group in place to address this issue in 1997. It is regrettable it has taken so long to introduce this legislation. A consultative group was set up to discuss this issue and former Deputy, John Farrelly, introduced a Private Members' Bill relating to this issue two years ago. The private security industry as a whole has sought such regulation for some time.
I welcome the debate and look forward to the passage of the legislation. However, it is has taken too long for the Government to prioritise this issue. I hope this is an indication of the priorities of the new Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in regard to the security of young people, in particular, at night on the streets of our towns and cities. It gives me no pleasure to say that the record of the former Minister left a lot to be desired.
The purpose of the Bill is to establish a private security authority to control and supervise firms providing security, a welcome development. It will also establish a publicly accessible register of licence holders and provide for the issuing of  identity cards to licensees and for the setting of standards for training. These are immensely important provisions.
I am afraid I am as guilty as other speakers who focused their attention on bouncers and security personnel at nightclubs and pubs. However, I have good reason to focus on that area. Unfortunately, there have been many instances of bouncers, door men or security personnel abusing their powers. Yet sanctions have not been imposed on people or companies for what they have done. I am sure the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Michael Ahern, knows about the tragic case in Cork in recent years where a young man was killed after being dragged into a nightclub and severely manhandled. I must be careful about what I say on that matter. However, the clear evidence from the video tapes is that the young man was dealt with in an overly harsh way with tragic consequences. My colleague, Deputy Allen, has attempted to prioritise this case on many occasions in the House.
There have also been cases outside Cork. I remember being shocked to hear on the radio the story of a man who was beaten up on Grafton Street outside a well known nightclub. When he asked why he and his wife were refused entry to the nightclub, he was beaten so badly he required hospitalisation. That is not acceptable in a civilised society which is supposed to be based on law and order and to have a Constitution which protects all its citizens.
The provision of security personnel identity cards will be a major positive step. Once people realise they can be identified by a security card number and that a complaint can be made against them, they will think before they act. Unfortunately, in some cases the thought process comes after the physical punishment has been dished out. I accept that the job of a security person or doorman is difficult and is becoming more challenging every year. However, that is not an excuse to over-react in a non-professional way by giving a young person, who may be under the influence of alcohol, a severe beating which can sometimes lead to tragic consequences.
I welcome the fact that a system of investigation and adjudication of complaints against licensees will also be established. I am glad the Bill is providing for a system whereby a member of the public who feels they have been unfairly treated will be able to make a complaint. That complaint should be treated in a professional manner and the response should be given in a reasonable amount of time. The authority should investigate the matter and ensure fair and due process for both the licensee and the member of the public who made the complaint. I also welcome the provision in the Bill to establish an appeals board. If members of the public feel they have not been fairly treated by the authority they can appeal to the appeals board and, if necessary, go to the High Court.
 I hope the authority will be run independently of the individual companies concerned. I also hope there will not be a close link between the authority which gives out licences and the security firms. I would not like to see the establishment of a system, such as the Garda Complaints Board where gardaí investigated other gardaí. That puts the people under investigation and those investigating in an awkward and unfair position. The authority must be totally independent of the industry, although it will be the regulatory body.
The Bill gives effect to the principle and recommendations contained in the report of the consultative group on the private security industry which was published in 1997. That group was set up by the former Minister for Justice, Nora Owen. Unfortunately, she did not have time to give effect to those recommendations in legislation.
I welcome the establishment of the complaints authority which members of the public are anxious to see in operation. The only course of action a member of the public can take when trying to seek redress for unfair treatment is to go to the gardaí or to the Ombudsman. Either avenue is not acceptable at present. Many cases are drawn out because the Ombudsman must make a judgment call between the word of a bouncer and that of a member of the public, which is not entirely satisfactory. That is why I welcome the fact the authority can either revoke or suspend a licence or warn a company if a minor offence is committed.
I am happy about the inclusion of a number of sections. Section 9 provides for the preparation of a strategic plan by the authority to set out targets and guidelines for a three year period. I was pleased that was included because there was a danger we would try to establish an authority as a knee-jerk reaction to some of the tragedies which have occurred on the streets of Cork, Dublin or Limerick. The recommendation that we must constantly plan and set ourselves targets into the future came from the consultative body. I hope that when the strategic plan is made available the House will have an opportunity to debate it and the Minister will have an input. If we, as policy makers and legislators, have a problem with it, we will have an opportunity to voice our concerns.
Section 15, which requires the authority to report to the Minister on a regular basis, is linked to the issue of consultation. In general, where such authorities are established, I do not favour regular ministerial intervention or significant ministerial influence. In this case, however, it is important that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, who has responsibility for the security of the nation, is given the opportunity to consult members of the authority on a regular basis to ensure they respond to Government policy as it is adapted to meet the changing demands of society. For this reason I welcome the requirement of the authority to report to the Minister.
 I also welcome section 14, which provides inspectors with the necessary powers to enforce the regulations and monitoring of the authority. It would be unacceptable for the proprietors of pubs, nightclubs, shops or any other facility to refuse entry to an inspector who is enforcing the rules laid down by the authority. I, therefore, welcome the decision to make non-compliance with the request of an inspector a punishable offence.
It would not be possible to discuss private security services without alluding to the increased levels of street violence and violent crime in general. Bouncers, security personnel and doormen – I use all three titles as one's choice depends on where one is from – work in a changing environment. As such, the legislation is as important for the security industry and, in some ways, for the security of doormen as it is for members of the public.
I remind the House of the environment in which we now live. All sources, whether the Garda Review, Victim Support, taxi drivers or accident and emergency services, regularly remind public representatives that we live in a more violent society. It came as no surprise to read recently that Limerick General Hospital had requested a Garda presence in its accident and emergency department at weekends. Such requests give us an idea of the problems many security personnel have to deal with in pubs, night clubs and other locations where people gather socially or to purchase goods.
We held a conference in Cork last year entitled Demanding Safer Streets, at which one of the speakers, a doctor from the accident and emergency department of a Cork hospital, outlined the significant increase in the number of people he sees and treats as a result of assaults on the streets. The largest group of people attending accident and emergency departments at weekends are victims of street assaults. An officer from Victim Support reminded the conference that in addition to the rise in the number of assaults, their viciousness had also increased. This, too, must be reflected in the formulation of policy on private security services and in the training provided for personnel working in that sector.
Another speaker at the event, Mr. Pat Delaney of the Small Firms Association, highlighted that more than half the small businesses he represents had been victims of crime in the past 12 months, an increase of 19% on the previous year. From memory, I recall that small firms are spending almost £500 million a year on security in the form of personnel, cameras, double-glazed glass, extra door locks, window grills and similar items. It is sad, but unfortunately true, that we are moving in this direction.
In a further reminder of the problem we face, Garda statistics issued last year, unfortunately well out of date, showed an increase in violent crimes of 131%. As a result of violent attacks in our towns and cities last year, more than 3,500  persons were hospitalised and required in-patient care, in other words an extended stay in hospital.
Unfortunately, we live in a violent society in which a new fear factor has emerged among parents and young people. I come from a big family and have a younger brother aged 18 years who frequently tells me I am not up to speed on these issues. Many people of his age group do not go into the city centre.
An Ceann Comhairle Séamus Pattison
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has one minute remaining.
Mr. Coveney Mr. Coveney
Mr. Coveney: Do I have 20 minutes speaking time or half an hour, a Cheann Comhairle?
An Ceann Comhairle Séamus Pattison
An Ceann Comhairle: As you are not the first speaker from your party, you were allocated 20 minutes speaking time.
Mr. Coveney Mr. Coveney
Mr. Coveney: That is fine.
An Ceann Comhairle Séamus Pattison
An Ceann Comhairle: The first speaker for your party has 30 minutes.
Mr. Coveney Mr. Coveney
Mr. Coveney: Many 18 year olds, such as my brother who is 6 ft. 3 ins. and weighs 15 stone, are choosing not to go into the city centre at night because of fear and security concerns. They now go to local pubs and night clubs. We need to reflect these concerns in legislation. A combination of changes in Garda deployment, legislation on the private security industry and the provision of tools, such as CCTV and proper equipment and training, would enable the Garda and security personnel to provide a decent level of supervision and security for young and not so young people to go out at night without fear.
We need to get away from the image that bouncers need to be tough guys and must be big, burly, strong and intimidating in order that people do not mess with them. Bouncers should defuse problems, not cause them. There should be more female security personnel in pubs and night clubs, particularly at night. At least half their patrons are female, yet male bouncers and doormen do not generally receive adequate training in how to deal with the many young girls out enjoying themselves at weekends. We must concentrate on enforcing the rules to ensure we have a safer environment for our young people.
Mr. O'Connor Mr. O'Connor
Mr. O'Connor: Although it seems a long time since this Dáil first sat on 6 June, I have not had the opportunity to speak in the presence of the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Michael Ahern. Having shared an office with him for a few days, I take the opportunity, if somewhat belatedly, to wish him well. I am glad to see him doing so well in his Department.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to this debate and I have listened to Deputies Andrews, Glennon and Coveney, whom I commend for their contributions. Deputy Andrews referred to nightclubs as did Deputy  Coveney, but I am of an age group that is not that used to going to such clubs and it is not something I have done all that often. I do not know if I am outing myself in that regard and I suppose that Deputy English, who goes to a few, does not understand what I am saying.
Mr. English Mr. English
Mr. English: I have to keep up.
Mr. Coveney Mr. Coveney
Mr. Coveney: He holds his clinics there.
Mr. O'Connor Mr. O'Connor
Mr. O'Connor: I remember a little while ago going to a nightclub in Tallaght and as I was going in the doorman asked, “You are not really going down there Charlie, are you?” before offering to get me a cup of tea. It is a different scene but I hear many people talking about it. Many of my constituents who come to the seven clinics I do during the week and to my full-time office in Tallaght tell me of the fears they have, not only about going out, but as Deputy Coveney has said, about sending their young people out and wondering what state they will return in, or if they will return in one piece.
All speakers have emphasised the bouncer element and I refer to it also, but we should not forget that there is another side to that. Many of my constituents who have been employed in security jobs in various institutions and venues tell me it is becoming more difficult to live locally and be seen by the people they have to deal with. I often say that politicians living communities do not get hassle but I understand what these people are saying. I hope security staff understand that their ethos should be to protect the public, but if by preventing people from stealing and abusing passers-by they are intimidated in turn and have people calling to their houses to tell them they must move on, there is something wrong. My town is no different to anywhere else in that regard, but those things happen and in looking at the points being made in this debate we should remember that there is also that perspective.
I do not want to talk exclusively about my town, but it is relevant to say that it is quite different to many in the country. Even though Tallaght is our third largest population centre, there are only, if that is the right way to express it, nine pubs and two hotels. On many rural village streets you will find that many pubs and I was fascinated recently on visiting a town in a southern county to walk up and down a street counting the number of pubs. I suspect that Members on all sides of the House have different views and perspectives on this subject, which is fair enough, and in the short space of time I have been here I have been interested to listen to what my colleagues say. We do not all do that as there are many other demands on our time, but it is important to realise that there are people of all ages and backgrounds in the Dáil and it is good to share this information.
Like all Members, I receive many representations from constituents who have had difficulties with door security personnel outside public  houses, nightclubs and, in a new phenomenon, fast-food restaurants. I suspect that happens in a lot of constituencies and I am interested in hearing what other Deputies have to say on the matter. I am disappointed, as are many other Members, that our society has become so tense that door security has become an essential part of the night out. In my inaugural speech to the House, I spoke on the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill which I welcomed as part of the comprehensive tightening of the law to provide maximum protection to the public we serve. I realise that the entire private security industry is covered in the legislation before the House, but I wish to concentrate on door security services, as have other speakers. Over the years as the need for this service has, regrettably, increased, the high profile of serious breaches of the law by bouncers – if I can use that word – has left the public with a suspicious view of their ability to do their job. While the feeling abroad that door security is arrogant and aggressive is denied by the industry, that image is unfortunately all too real and visible. Deputy Coveney underscored that graphically and I have seen the video footage from Cork which he referred to quite a bit on television. It upsets and saddens and I am glad that he and other Members have brought it to the attention of the Dáil.
I welcome the fact that the private security authority will licence all members of the industry both as operating companies and as individuals. In addition, the staff employed by companies or individuals will require a licence. The condition that the licensee must be “a fit person” as defined by the authority will need to be strict and transparent and while I do not want to see anyone deprived of an honest living, I realise that there are people engaged in door security who are not suited to this customer service position. As such, they should not be acceptable or accommodated in this area.
I serve in a constituency, as do other colleagues, where one knows that people engaged in security work have other lives and activities and come from what I describe delicately as “political interests”. I do not want to upset Members who are not in the Chamber, but that is the case in my constituency. The requirement of all private security service staff to carry at all times their licences, which I assume will be in the form of an ID card, will give the public further confidence that they are being protected by suitable persons and will allow the Garda to make checks if problems arise. The fact that it will be illegal for a business to hire or engage a person to carry out door duties who is not a licence holder will mean that responsibility will be jointly held by the owner and the individual. In the past, business owners have disavowed knowledge as justification when a problem has occurred, but this Bill will put an end to that practice.
I welcome the fair way in which the Bill proposes to deal with complaints. I accept that nuis ance complaints can become an issue where right of entry is involved and I expect the speed with which the authority responds and investigates to reduce their frequency. The advice and caution options to which the authority has recourse in the event of a complaint being upheld are too weak and the authority should issue a warning as its first response. The appeals process will allow natural justice to take its course and I welcome the provisions of the Bill in this regard. The technical supports provided to the authority are also welcome as is the Strategic Management Initiative requirement to produce a strategy statement, which I look forward to reading when it is placed before the House. With regard to the authority's membership and its day-to-day activities, the Minister and his officials have struck a good balance. I support the Bill.
While I have concentrated on the door security services provisions of the Bill, as a newly elected Deputy for Dublin South West, I also welcome the other provisions which deal with the installers of security equipment, private investigators, private security employers, security guards, security consultants, locksmiths, armoured car services and safe installers.
The presence of the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Callely, reminds me that he helped to get me here, if I can say that while there are very few in the House. I ask Deputy English not to tell anyone that. I am always happy to be in the presence of the Minister of State because he looked after me well when he was chairman of the health board in recent years.
Mr. Callely Mr. Callely
Mr. Callely: I was happy to do so.
Mr. O'Connor Mr. O'Connor
Mr. O'Connor: The focus of this debate, the publicity attaching to it and to this Bill has rightly dealt with the issues of concern to us. I support Deputy Coveney's point about the public's image of bouncers. We should not forget the other side of the coin. The public gather in many public places, for example, in Tallaght they gather at health board centres, doctors' surgeries, The Square, the hospital, the council buildings and other buildings one would expect to see in a major town. It is regrettable that there is an increasing need on a daily, and certainly on a nightly, basis to have security personnel in place in such buildings. If one were to go to Tallaght hospital late at night – the position is no different from that in a hospital in Cork, Meath or elsewhere – one would be struck by the number of security personnel patrolling the accident and emergency department and the grounds. There must be an emphasis on security in the other public buildings I mentioned, including The Square, which is a large shopping centre that attracts millions of people a year. Security personnel, no more than many other people who work in the public domain, are often the subject of abuse and intimidation.
 Prior to having the privilege of being elected to the Dáil, I spent a good deal of my time as a member of South Dublin County Council, formerly Dublin County Council, working with families who because of the nature of the job in which a member of their family was engaged – I am specifically talking about security personnel – found themselves under threat. Given the emphasis in the Bill on bouncers and what they should be doing, which is hitting the headlines, we should also be aware of the other side of the coin. We should not be afraid to say to those people who provide an honest, decent security service that they have our support. We want the security industry to do the job right and the majority of people who work in it want to do that. However, we must understand that they also have needs. We must ensure the rights of security personnel in, for example, The Square or Tallaght hospital, caretakers or those looking after people in health centres are protected. I am speaking about places in Tallaght but the same holds true for premises elsewhere.
I enjoyed listening to the debate and congratulate my colleagues who contributed to it. It is a subject about which we are all interested and concerned. I ask the Minister of State to impress on the Minister the need to deal with this legislation and to listen to what is being said. I hope this Bill will be passed and will become law as quickly as possible so that we address the image of the industry and the other issues of concern to many of us. I hope the Minister will take on board the recommendations that come forward from this debate. I look forward to the Bill being enacted. I thank the Chair for allowing me to speak on the debate. I commend the Bill to the House.
Mr. Callely Mr. Callely
Mr. Callely: I thank Deputy O'Connor for his kind words. I listened to his contribution and congratulate him on it.
Mr. English Mr. English
Mr. English: The Bill before us is long overdue and needs to be brought into force without further delay. It should be old news at this stage. It is time we moved on, we should be dealing with another Bill. The country is in crisis in that what is happening on our streets is mad. Everyone is afraid. We are talking about a Bill, in respect of which a similar Bill was introduced three or four years ago by a colleague, John Farrelly.
Mr. O'Connor Mr. O'Connor
Mr. O'Connor: Is he still the Deputy's colleague?
Mr. English Mr. English
Mr. English: Some 90% of the provisions in that Bill are included in this Bill. He is still a colleague and – as Deputy O'Connor said in respect of the Minister of State – he helped me to get here.
Mr. O'Connor Mr. O'Connor
Mr. O'Connor: I am happy the Deputy is here.
Mr. English Mr. English
Mr. English: I am glad to be here too.
Mr. O'Connor Mr. O'Connor
 Mr. O'Connor: As long as the Deputy does not move to Tallaght, I will be happy.
Mr. English Mr. English
Mr. English: While we can joke, this is a serious issue. This Bill addresses only the tip of the iceberg. I read in the News of the World recently that the Minister of State for Justice, Deputy O'Dea, said he is afraid to walk the streets of Limerick. He has a nice fancy car and a garda assigned to him at all times. We talk about the loss of control, that is admitting we have lost control. If the Minister of State feels like that, what hope have I, my mother or any of the rest of us of feeling safe on our streets? This is serious. Crime has taken over.
I thank John Farrelly for his work in this area. It is regrettable it took four years for the Deputies opposite to realise the importance of this legislation. I heard a speaker say the former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O'Donoghue, thought it was unnecessary. The Government has learned four years later that it is needed – we will get there yet. Given that a good deal of work on a Bill similar to this goes unmentioned, it is good that John Farrelly is finally getting recognition for his work in this area.
This Bill makes common sense. It is the only way forward. Deputy Deasy said that in addition to this Bill much more is required. This is only the start and there is room for improvement in terms of setting standards and control mechanisms. What happens if a person on the door of a premises does not have a licence? Who will report that person and what will be done about it?
The registering and training of private security guards makes common sense. I can only ponder why we had to wait until now for the introduction of this Bill, but it is better late than never. It is a simple though regrettable fact that in this modern era private security, that is bouncers, are needed in the pubs of our rural towns. They are also needed in chip shops and in almost every public building. We will probably see them outside churches soon. No function, particularly where alcohol is present, can be planned in this modern age without the security of the venue being at the forefront.
We are the elected representatives of this country and it is our job to ensure this section of the growing security industry is the best this country can produce. If we do not do this, somebody else will and it will be left to police itself. As to what I mean by this, private security has for far too long been run in the shrouded secrecy of the black economy – a few bob here and there away from prying eyes. Meanwhile the problems of this sector can be seen plainly with the worst extremes played out on our streets and later in the courtrooms of this land on a weekly basis. This is not good enough and it must change.
I have experienced this having managed a pub for years in which there was a security presence. Due to the tax situation many of these people work in the black economy. They are not trained  and are not legally employed. Therefore, this Bill is needed. If there was a row in my local club on a particular night and I went there the following morning to find out what bouncer was on duty or who was there to protect the people, the manager of the premises would say the security people are not employed by the club. If I were then to talk to the man in charge of security, he would say a different person works each night and that he does not know who was on duty the previous night. A log should be kept on every premises to show the bouncer on duty the previous night. People would then be in a position to make a complaint about him, if necessary.
Regulation of this sector is not to be feared by the many honest law-abiding people and businesses who either use private security services or provide them. The thousands of people who visit pubs and clubs see firsthand the work done by those who provide such services. When I worked as a bar manager I employed doormen and I could in no way find fault with those particular gentlemen. Without them, I could not have done my job and, in light of the way society has developed, I would not like to be doing it now. As good as these individuals were at their jobs, however, I would have been much happier if there had been a legally essential training course for them to undergo before taking up such responsible roles. I imagine all other managers, pub and club owners and members of the public feel the same way.
I recall an incident which occurred when we employed a new bouncer to work on the door. We had no way to discover whether he had been trained and were obliged to take him at his word. A row broke out and when we sought out the bouncer he had disappeared because he did not know what to do. He was only a young man who needed some money. He looked the part but when it came to action he was not up to it. As a result, the remainder of the staff and I were obliged take on the thugs. No staff member should be placed in such a position. This is proof that the Bill is badly needed and should be fast-tracked.
Disputes or rows that break out from time to time may have to be settled in the law courts. As matters stand, private security guards or, to use the name given to them in popular culture, bouncers, really have no defined place in law. There are no set guidelines, no acceptable codes of behaviour and no yardstick by which they can be judged. This makes their job almost impossible. The Bill is only a beginning. We will be depending heavily on the new authority to set standards. The Bill does not offer much guidance and we will, therefore, be relying on the authority and we will be obliged to monitor its activities.
There are bad apples in every walk of life. The lack of a central quality or assured register and training allows all types, both good and bad, to operate in this black economy. What is even more sinister is that, in the absence of the powers of the  State in this area, a lack of direction on our part allows gangs and organisations, whose respect for the law would be questionable in the first instance, to take up places of power in society.
A new pub opened in Navan, County Meath, one or two years ago. I recall driving past and seeing seven or eight bouncers on the door who looked the part. I thought that was great, but I knew at first glance that two of them were drug dealers. This proves the point I am making about the need to regulate the sector. Every application for a licence, not just those the authority makes a request in respect of, should include a Garda reference. The Garda Síochána or an office or bureau established for the specific purpose should vet those making applications.
In addition to the many good individuals, there are a number of dodgy characters working as doormen. These people have ample opportunity and have licence to engage in criminal activities such as drug dealing or operating protection rackets. This places us, as individuals, and the well-being of our children at risk because many of these people currently stand guard over many of our pubs and clubs. I am not saying this practice is widespread, but as has been proven in the past if an opportunity presents itself, cunning criminal brains will seize it to all our costs. At present, a vacuum exists and so does the opportunity. The legislation must be passed by the House as soon as possible in order to remove this opportunity from these ruthless people.
As a bar manager I had some interesting experiences while assisting doormen in their duties. I outlined some of these previously and I will not rehearse them now. Firsthand knowledge of this subject has taught me that training is all important. The days of putting brawn without brains on the door of an establishment should be well and truly over. While good body language and a well-tempered word can cool a situation, the opposite can also be said of a wrong word or threatening posture or gesture. The atmosphere is often charged, fuelled by alcohol and excitement. It is so easy to cause this atmosphere to explode, with disastrous consequences for everyone. This is where cool, professional, well trained individuals will know their briefs and work as a team and that is invaluable. Muscle may not always be the answer.
It is not always what one says, but the way one says it. While working in chippers and pubs and attending discos, I witnessed many instances where bouncers said the wrong thing or bared their teeth at an inopportune moment and caused an all-out row. When Ireland lost to Mexico at the 1994 World Cup finals, about ten or 11 thugs visited the establishment where I was working. Half of them were drunk, while the others were on drugs. They were fairly wild but we had done well in dealing with them. Some of the security personnel and staff had managed to calm them down. We had nearly got them off the premises when one of the bouncers decided he was Mr. Macho and grabbed a flag off one individual and  broke it in half. The whole place erupted. When the gardaí arrived two hours later the place was a mess. This shows how the wrong move by a bouncer can cause a row. In that context, I commend the Minister for bringing forward this Bill.
For too long, trouble which starts in pubs on or dance floors has ended up on the streets and innocent bystanders have become involved. We must put a stop to this. The streets of our towns should be safe for 17 to 70 year olds at any time, night or day, and should not be left to thugs ejected from pubs or clubs. I say 17 year olds because anyone younger should be at home safe in his or her bed by midnight or 1 a.m. and their parents should know where they are. Other legislation to deal with this issue will be introduced in the future and it cannot but help.
Deputy Deasy referred earlier to CCTV, which is essential. Every town should have CCTV. I am aware that there are four or five pilot CCTV schemes throughout the country. My hometown, Navan, has been on a waiting list for CCTV for two to three years and I am of the view that we will be waiting a long time for it. Tax breaks should be provided to pub and club owners and various traders in particular streets to allow them to get together and provide CCTV coverage. I recall gardaí visiting various establishments in which I worked and seeking CCTV tapes which helped them to solve many crimes. Due to lack of resources, however, they often had to use our recorders to watch the footage because the equipment at the station was not suitable for this purpose. An integrated approach must be taken in respect of this matter. The Bill on its own will not prove sufficient.
There is a pub situated next door to my constituency office and the owner's CCTV system was of major assistance to me when someone visited my office in the middle of the night. The individual in question was caught on camera slipping through the door to my premises. CCTV works and will help gardaí, security personnel and others to do their jobs. It is essential that CCTV systems should be put in place.
As already stated, the Bill on its own is not sufficient. Tougher legislation is required. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill was introduced when I first entered the House and it was stated that people who entered premises illegally would be fined a few hundred euro. That is a joke as people who break the law in this way are not going to be concerned about paying such an amount. We must get tough when dealing with this issue.
I wish to ask the Minister to clarify a number of points. Section 35 states that anyone employing a person to provide security must ensure they have a licence. What will be the position in the case of a charity function or local festival where people will do this work free of charge? The organisers of such events often grab anyone they can to help with security on the night. Is there a grey area here or will those providing security events of this nature need a licence if they are not  being paid? There is no way all of these people can obtain licences. Will the Minister clarify the position in this regard?
The Garda Síochána should be involved in vetting all applications. I agree with Deputy Costello's suggestion that the Garda should provide people with certificates. However, I am anxious that further pressure should not be placed on Garda resources. There must be a way to ensure that someone in authority will be obliged to provide people with a certificate to accompany their application for a licence.
Many speakers referred to the black economy. It is difficult to blame many of the people involved in the security sector for working in the black economy because being a bouncer is often their second job. They work as doormen on a part-time basis at weekends, usually late at night and in dangerous conditions. Perhaps the Minister could consult the Minister for Finance to discover whether these individuals could be given special tax breaks to make the job worth their while. Some of these people ask €100 or €150 for their services, while others are only paid €60 or €70. They work 40 hours per week in their primary jobs and by working at weekends they enter the higher tax bracket. If they work four or five hours as a bouncer for €60 gross, they receive approximately €30 into their hands. This means it is not really worth their while working. We are missing out on the services of good people. The capable individuals who we want to see doing this job will not do it because they will not be adequately rewarded. There must be some way to facilitate them within the tax regime in order to allow them to do their job.
I commend the Bill to the House.
Mr. Stanton Mr. Stanton
Mr. Stanton: This is the first opportunity I have had to congratulate the Minister of State on his appointment. I wish him well and I believe his appointment is well deserved. I look forward to great things from him. In light of my past experience of working with him on one of the Oireachtas committees, I believe I am in a position to say that we will see great things from him in time. I genuinely wish him the best of luck.
Mr. Callely Mr. Callely
Mr. Callely: I offer the Deputy my heartfelt thanks for the sentiments he has expressed.
Mr. Stanton Mr. Stanton
Mr. Stanton: As many Members stated, this Bill is long overdue. The recent television programme probably pushed this Bill to the top of the agenda, which is the reason we are discussing it today. In a way that is a shame. The Bill is well constructed but there are areas which need to be changed and strengthened or which require greater certainty.
First, I will discuss the need for the Bill. Other Members have also addressed this point. Society is developing in such a way that there is a greater need for security. In many country towns one will see, outside pubs and shops, people in uniforms and caps which bear crests showing they are  security personnel. This was not the case ten or 15 years ago. We did not need it. Today, however, we do. At night, in provincial towns and cities throughout the country, one will see burly door personnel outside the doors of every pub.
This is indicative of the society we have allowed to develop and we should not let this occasion pass without commenting on it. How have we arrived at this situation, where life and limb are at risk and people are so afraid for their lives and property that they must employ security personnel? The Minister of State, Deputy Callely, has responsibility for the elderly. Older people, more than any others, are afraid. This should not be the case. All Members of the House have a responsibility to work together to try and change the thuggish culture that has developed.
The thuggish culture is one in which the right thing to do, it seems, is to go somewhere to have a fight or beat somebody up. There are unprovoked assaults on our streets. People are in hospitals today who, while going about their business without interference to anybody, were assaulted for no reason. Somebody attacked them with their fists or other objects to such an extent as to cause serious injury. That is indicative of the society we have developed. It is not good enough. Tourists, the old, women and grown men are attacked. Teenage boys, in particular, suffer attacks. A number of them have been badly hurt and sometimes killed for their mobile phones. We must examine this problem. The Government should establish an interdepartmental committee to do so. It should bring in all the agencies and investigate how this situation can be turned around.
Alcohol is a significant problem. Ireland is turning into a nation of alcoholics. This has huge implications not only for health but also for personal safety and security. Our nation is almost unique in Europe in that our people, it seems, cannot go out without getting drunk. It is the thing to do. The provisions of the Bill that get most of our attention are the ones dealing with door security at nightclubs, discos and public houses. The main reason for door security is abuse of alcohol so we need to change the culture in that regard.
Many young people have nothing to do and nowhere to go aside from pubs. The youth service is virtually non-existent and the amount of money we put into that area is miserable. The Oireachtas passed the Youth Work Act recently but it has to be implemented and resourced. Otherwise, more resources will have to be put into prisons, security and safety. That is the wrong way to go when the other option is available.
The state of our society is the reason for this Bill. Hospitals, businesses, schools, shops, pubs, discos and other facilities need security. I urge the Minister of State to give serious consideration to revoking or changing the licensing hours. The last change was a bad mistake. It is all right to have long opening hours in a mature society, where  people will drink responsibly. That is not the case in our society, especially when there is nothing else for people to do.
Fast food outlets are also causing problems on our streets. People come out of pubs and congregate around the fast food outlets. Invariably there is a row. These places should be closed before the pubs close. Nobody will starve if they cannot get a bag of chips at midnight or 1 a.m. but a life might be saved. There is no need for these outlets to be open. There are people in my home town who cannot get to sleep until four or five in the morning because these places are open.
If somebody wishes to become a security man or woman, will they have to be registered? Will they have to hold a licence or will it be sufficient that their employer holds a licence? There is a degree of uncertainty about this in the Bill. I cannot see a definite requirement in the Bill that a person who wishes to become a security man or doorman must have a licence. Will it be enough for his or her employer to hold the licence? If so, it is not good enough. Every person who is working in this industry should be vetted, registered and licensed.
The Bill provides a list of the people, door supervisors and so forth, who are covered. Are bodyguards included? They are not specifically mentioned, although I have not had time to go through the Bill in detail. They should be mentioned because they are a separate recognised branch of security.
Everybody who works in the security sector should receive training. The people who were interviewed on the “Prime Time” programme made the point that training is crucial. It is wrong to give somebody a badge and a uniform and put him or her working in a premises without proper training. The training should be supervised, monitored and certified. In other words, the person should sit some type of examination at the end of his or her training. I am not sure if this is required; I cannot find such a provision in the Bill. Further down the road, however, it is something the authority should demand. We should become more professional in dealing with this matter because we are dealing with life and death.
Mention has been made of the identity cards security personnel would carry. There has been some debate as to whether the person should wear the card on their clothes so that it is visible. The card would probably carry the person's photograph and should be tamper proof and forgery proof, if there is such a term. It should also have a number. Each member of the Garda has a number so people working in the security industry should also have one. If there is a complaint of abuse, especially if it occurs at night, the person will be easily identified by their number. If it is dark and hard to see identification, a person will probably see the number. That is important. At the same time, we must be careful not to establish a pseudo-paramilitary group, wearing caps and badges, that would intimidate people.  Visibility is important but there is a thin line between being visible and intimidation. If people are trained properly, however, they will know how to deal properly with people and situations, which is crucially important.
I am pleased the Bill's provisions allow for people to be checked out before they undertake private security work. Therefore, people with a criminal record, or those with whom the Garda is unhappy, would not be allowed to work in the security sector.
Articles 43 and 49 of the European convention deal with the freedom to establish and provide services between EU member states, so will companies from other jurisdictions be able to operate here under the provisions of the Bill? If security firms from Britain or France, for example, wanted to set up business here would they be able to do so, and what steps would they have to take?
Much of the private security industry concerns the management of conflict. Another uniformed pseudo-security group that has been involved in conflict are the wheel-clampers. Will they be included within the remit of the legislation?
A few years ago the Minister of State and I were involved in debating copyright issues, but will electronic security technicians be covered by the Bill? Many issues, including security of information in cyberspace, are now arising through the increased use of the Internet. Those working in the electronic security sector are private investigators of a sort, but will they be covered by the Bill? The legislation must be able to deal with cybercrime, including pornography on the Internet and breaches of copyright and patent law. Will investigators working in those areas be included within the parameters of the Bill? Perhaps the Minister can answer those questions when he replies later.
The Bill refers to people who accompany dogs on patrol, but perhaps the legislation should provide for the obligatory training of guard dogs. If a dog is not properly trained and does not respond to commands by its handler, the animal could become dangerous. If someone is working with a guard dog the animal should be properly trained. Such animals could be tested to see if they obey commands properly. The Minister would not be too happy if he was attacked by a guard dog whose handler could not control it. We must ensure that cannot happen. Perhaps that point can be included in the Bill during later Stages.
The Bill seeks to establish a private security authority, including a practising barrister, two private security employers and employees, and a representative of the Garda Commissioner. In the past, however, it was suggested that such bodies would be discussed by a Dáil committee before being established. In that way the Minister's proposal could be vetted by the Oireachtas but the last Government was totally against this idea. In dealing with the Railway Procurement Agency Bill and other legislation, the former Minister for Public Enterprise, Senator O'Rourke, promised  that this proposal would be examined within the framework of Oireachtas reform, and that a Dáil committee would have an input in the appointment of people to statutory authorities. Although the Bill does not envisage this matter, I am raising it again because I think we should take this step.
I am pleased that the private security authority will have strategic plans and the power to investigate the industry. For too long the private security sector was seen as an uncomplicated area that did not warrant much attention. At long last, however, it will now receive the attention it deserves. The private security authority will be able to investigate, in its own right, any security services provided by any person.
There is no doubt that the private security sector has operated as part of the black economy for years. Has the Minister examined the possibility of requiring potential private security personnel to obtain tax clearance certificates before taking up employment in the sector? If not, we will be giving the nod to the black economy and saying, “It is okay. We will let them off”. We should examine that issue which would help to professionalise the industry.
What is the Minister's view on members of the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces or the prisons service working as private security staff? Perhaps he can deal with that question in his reply to the debate.
The Bill is necessary and I could say much more about it if time permitted. I will be watching closely its progress through the House. The legislation needs to be enacted pretty soon, notwithstanding a proper debate on Committee Stage. Once the Bill has passed all Stages, we should not have to wait for months for the required action to be taken on foot of its enactment. Proper resources must be provided to the new private security authority to enable it to carry out its work effectively. Let us hope that as a result of this legislation the private security industry will be taken out of the darkness in which it currently operates. The Bill should grant the industry a respectability it has not had up to now.
Unless we deal with the underlying problems in our society that have led to the massive growth in the private security industry, we will see more such problems arising in future.
Dáil Éireann 556 Private Security Services Bill, 2001: Second Stage (Resumed).