A Sinn Féin Bill to provide for the proper regulation of private security firms hired to execute court-ordered repossessions and evictions will be debated in the Dáil tomorrow.
Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, who introduced the Bill last year, said:
“A loophole exists in current legislation which means that those executing court-ordered repossessions and evictions do not fall under the remit of current legislation. This means that banks can hire unregulated, unaccountable private security firms to enforce court orders.
“This is extremely dangerous and can sometimes lead to violent acts by these enforcers; acts which the public currently have no avenue to bring complaints about.
“The lack of accountability here is shocking. We all remember the violent scenes at the eviction on Frederick Street in Dublin two years ago. These men who hid behind balaclavas were not accountable to anyone and they remain completely unregulated.
“We expect door staff in bars and people doing security in our shops to be subject to regulation and to meet certain standards, yet people involved in the most intrusive and potentially violent security work are not subject to any regulation at all.
“Violent evictions will unfortunately increase 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 now, successive governments have done nothing about this.
“I understand that the government are likely to support this Bill, which is welcome. But the Bill must be progressed further – it cannot be allowed to languish at Committee – and they must go further and prevent evictions now in a Covid-19 context by extending the eviction ban.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Martin Kenny TD, added:
“Private security operators who are acting in a violent or abusive way must be held accountable and they must be subject to regulation.
“Our Bill will rectify the current legal loophole that exists and will ensure that these outfits are subject to investigation by the Private Security Services Authority.
“This accountability is urgently needed to protect vulnerable people who find themselves in the most distressing and potentially violent situations, whilst experiencing eviction.
“I hope that this Bill will be supported by all parties in the Dáil.”