Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has welcomed government support for Sinn Féin legislation to ensure that those involved in enforcing evictions are properly regulated.
The bill was proposed by Teachta Ó Laoghaire and Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice Martin Kenny TD.
Speaking tonight from Leinster House, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“I welcome that the government have supported our bill tonight. It is timely and necessary to counter a loophole that currently exists in our regulation, which means that those executing court-ordered repossessions and evictions do not fall under the scope of any regulating legislation.
“This means that banks can hire unregulated and unaccountable private security firms to enforce court orders, which is extremely dangerous.
“It has led to violent acts by these enforcers, which the public has no avenue to bring forward complaints about.
“We all remember the aggressive and violent scenes at the eviction on Frederick St in Dublin two years ago. These men hid their faces and identities, and were not accountable to anyone. They remain completely unregulated.
“Violent evictions unfortunately are on the rise as the housing crisis escalates under this government. Banks can hire anyone they want, who can do anything they want, with no accountability or recourse for complaint. For years, successive Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil governments did nothing to counter this.
“With this bill, those who act violently during an eviction are subject to legislated standards, oversight and licensing. With this bill, these enforcers can be subject to complaint and investigation by the Private Security Services Authority.
“This accountability is urgently needed to protect vulnerable people who find themselves in the most distressing circumstances. I welcome that the government have recognised the severity of the situation and have supported our call for urgent regulation.
“Now that this bill has passed, we need to progress this matter quickly. I hope that the minister does not allow this to be delayed at committee.
“I am also concerned that if the government lifts the ban on evictions, that evictions could take place and tenants could be left vulnerable once more. It is not enough just to regulate this area – we also need to stop evictions.
“The ban on evictions should be extended into January, and reviewed at that stage. The government need to implement the Focus Ireland amendment to prevent eviction into homelessness, and we need radical change in tenancy law to ensure tenants can have contracts of indefinite duration.
“Ending this loophole that allowed eviction enforcers to abuse their power is a positive step forward, but legislation is also needed to protect tenants from unfair evictions in the first place.”