Private security firms brought in for evictions and repossessions will have to be licensed under proposed legislation.
On Tuesday, the Minister for Justice will publish the Private Security Services (Amendment) Bill 2021, which will bring the regulation and licensing of security personnel assisting in the enforcement of court orders within the remit of the Private Security Authority (PSA).
The apparent loophole has been criticised in the past for allowing unregulated companies oversee proceedings.
Now an additional “enforcement guard” category will be added to a broader list of security services covered by the Private Security Services Act 2004.
It will require them to obtain a licence to operate and ensure they are subject to the training standards and licensing regime operated by the PSA.
“Private security staff occupy a position of trust, engaging in regular interactions with members of the public. I strongly believe that those providing security should operate to the highest standards,” said Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, who drafted similar legislation in the past in response to a number of high profile evictions, welcomed the move.
In 2019, following evictions on North Frederick Street in Dublin and at Strokestown, Co Roscommon, he told the Dáil such a lack of regulation was "unacceptable". Having complained to the PSA, and being told such security staff were not under their remit, he introduced the Regulation of Private Security Firms Bill.
Welcoming the new legislation which effectively deals with the same shortfall, Mr Ó Laoghaire said it was “incredible and appalling that private security nearly had a free reign” in such evictions.
“It was an oversight at the time. Loopholes do happen but it’s unacceptable that people had carte blanche in such sensitive situations,” he said.
The Bill will also make a number of additional amendments including allowing the PSA refuse to renew a company licence, or suspend or revoke it, as well as introducing an offence of “impersonating an inspector” of the PSA.