Court order execution by private security firms to be subject of law

Flanagan to seek approval for requirement that private security firms register with State

 Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan: concerned about suggestions banks may have employed unregistered security to assist in executing court orders. Photograph: James Forde

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan: concerned about suggestions banks may have employed unregistered security to assist in executing court orders. Photograph: James Forde

 

Private security firms executing court orders to repossess homes and other properties will have to be registered with the State under changes expected to be approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

A gap exists in the law whereby private security workers executing court orders do not have to be registered with the Private Security Authority (PSA).

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan is expected to ask Cabinet to approve legislation that will ensure that anyone hired to carry out such orders must be registered with the PSA.

The move will be enacted by an amendment to the Private Security Services Act of 2004, and Attorney General Seamus Woulfe and officials from the Department of Justice will begin work on the proposals.

Mr Flanagan last autumn commissioned a report to assess if “those enforcing court orders were satisfactorily regulated”, his spokeswoman said. He will brief the Cabinet on Tuesday on its findings and his plans to bring “enforcement guards” under the remit of the PSA, which will ensure they will be subject to the authority’s training standards and licensing regime.

Banks and repossession

Mr Flanagan has previously expressed concern about suggestions that banks may have employed unregistered security to assist in executing court orders.

Earlier this year, Mr Flanagan told The Irish Times: “There have been instances in recent times where banks have employed private security people to assist in the execution of the court order. I am concerned at reports that those involved are not appropriately or adequately regulated.”

In the early hours of last Sunday a Roscommon property was stormed by a gang who beat security men guarding the premises, burning their vans and cars and forcing them out of the house. Photograph: Brian Farrell
The aftermath of a high-profile repossession case in Strokestown, Co Roscommon, which took place late in 2018. File photograph: Brian Farrell

He made his comments after a number of high-profile repossession cases last year, such as in Strokestown, Co Roscommon.

Separately, the PricewaterhouseCoopers report into overspending on the new National Children’s Hospital project is also expected to be discussed by the Cabinet on Tuesday. It is expected to be published shortly afterwards.

However, as of Monday night, the report had been kept within the Department of the Taoiseach and had not been shared across Government.

Speaking at the weekend, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “I anticipate I will receive it in the next couple of days. I will read it, bring it to Cabinet, and once the Attorney General has cleared it, it will be published without delay . That’s how reports have to be handled.”