Private Security Services Bill 2001: Committee Stage.

Wednesday, 31 March 2004

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 176 No. 1

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Section 1 agreed to.

Amendment No. 1 not moved.

Sections 2 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.

Amendment No. 2 not moved.

Sections 7 to 12, inclusive, agreed to.

Amendment No. 3 not moved.

Sections 13 to 15, inclusive, agreed to.

Ms Terry: Information on Sheila Terry  Zoom on Sheila Terry  I move amendment No. 4:

I am upset I missed the opportunity to move my first amendment as I had to leave to get a copy of the amendments.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  I can do nothing about that, Senator.

Ms Terry: Information on Sheila Terry  Zoom on Sheila Terry  Amendment No. 4 will allow the Minister to receive as much information as [17]possible. Too often we see State agencies dealing with information which the Minister should have. The amendment promotes accountability. When Members of the Oireachtas ask the Minister questions, the information necessary to answer them should be provided by the authority.

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. T. O’Malley):  While I am sympathetic to the concerns regarding accountability outlined by the Senator, I am reluctant to provide for the provision of information to the Minister for the specific purpose of answering parliamentary questions. Section 16 already provides that the authority shall give the Minister such information regarding its performance as the Minister may require and I am satisfied that is sufficient. Moreover, it would not be appropriate for the Minister to be answerable before the House for independent decisions of the authority. I refer, for example, to decisions taken by the authority to grant or renew a licence.

The Bill establishes an independent appeals board, to which the authority’s decisions may be appealed. An appeal to the High Court on a point of law is also foreseen in section 40.

Ms Terry: Information on Sheila Terry  Zoom on Sheila Terry  The amendment is concerned with accountability and with facilitating Deputies and Senators in asking the Minister questions on behalf of the public. That information should be provided to him by the authority. I am disappointed the Minister is not accepting the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 16 agreed to.

Section 17 agreed to.

Amendment No. 5 not moved.

Sections 18 to 20, inclusive, agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 not moved.

Section 21 agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  Amendments Nos. 8 and 13 are related and may be taken together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 8:

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  These are technical amendments inserting appropriate cross-references.

[18]Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 9 not moved.

Government amendment No. 10:

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  This is another technical amendment removing a superfluous phrase.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms Terry: Information on Sheila Terry  Zoom on Sheila Terry  I move amendment No. 11:

I ask that members of the Garda Síochána and of the Defence Forces would not be allowed to take up employment as door supervisors. On Second Stage, the Minister agreed that it would not be appropriate that members of the gardaí be involved in such an occupation, yet there is anecdotal evidence to suggest they are. There is certainly a conflict of interest if an off-duty garda is working at a night-club and has to deal with someone he has already encountered when working with the Garda Síochána. There is also a conflict of interest when members of the Defence Forces, who are highly trained to use physical force, work as door supervisors. It is inappropriate that these people be considered for this type of employment.

I ask the Minister to accept this amendment to ensure there is no conflict of interest in situations like those I have just described.

Mr. Kett: Information on Tony Kett  Zoom on Tony Kett  I have a certain amount of sympathy with Senator Terry’s amendment. It is the case that gardaí moonlight in this sphere of activity, as do members of the Defence Forces and even prison officers to a lesser extent. It is also true that gardaí may go to a premises and seek the licence from the individual operating the security service, with whom the gardaí may also have worked. The same does not occur with the Defence Forces. The gardaí deal with the public and may be dealing with that same public at a night-club. The Minister agreed with us as he felt that the gardaí should not be involved in these jobs. Some consideration should be given to this issue.

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  While I have some sympathy for the amendment, I am reluctant to accept it in the context of this Bill. The position regarding the [19]involvement of members of the gardaí and the Defence Forces in providing security services while off-duty is as follows. As regards the gardaí, any such off duty activity is already prohibited. The Garda Síochána disciplinary regulations define prohibitive, spare time activity as including, inter alia, any activity which is prohibited by the Commissioner as inappropriate for members to engage in. Acting as directors or secretaries of security firms or being engaged in any way in security work or spare time activity is so prohibited. Section 16 of the Garda Síochána Bill, which is before the House, makes provisions for statutory codes of conduct. On balance, it would be more appropriate to deal with the off duty conduct of gardaí in the context of such codes rather than in this Bill.

As regards the Defence Forces, the Defence Forces regulations provide that involvement in off duty employment may be terminated or limited where such employment is likely to prove detrimental or prejudicial to the best interests of the service. I cannot accept the amendment.

Ms Terry: Information on Sheila Terry  Zoom on Sheila Terry  I accept the Minister of State’s argument that members of the Garda are prohibited from involvement in such work. Perhaps that should be enforced. It is like many other rules and laws which are not enforced. While I accept the Minister of State’s reply, the law should be enforced.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 22, as amended, agreed to.

Ms Terry: Information on Sheila Terry  Zoom on Sheila Terry  I move amendment No. 12:

the person—

of an offence referred to in subsection (1), the person may apply—

[21]the person resides, to be allowed to apply for a licence under such terms or conditions as the Court may direct.

On Second Stage, I spoke about the necessity to ensure that criminals are not involved in door supervision or security work. I advised the Minister that it would be worthwhile to consider how the Minister for Transport dealt with that issue when he dealt with the legislation relating to taxi regulation. We must ensure that people who have been convicted of serious crimes, such as murder, manslaughter, drug offences or rape, are not involved in security work, where they could put members of the public at risk. The Minister for Transport dealt with that issue well in the context of the taxi legislation. I am disappointed the Minister did not table such an amendment. Perhaps the Minister of State will accept my amendment. It is essential that we protect the public and this is one way to do that. We are copying what another Minister did in another Department.

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  This amendment raises the interesting issue of the eligibility of persons convicted of serious crimes to get licences to provide security services. The 1997 consultative group report recommended that an application to hold a licence should be refused outright by the authority if the applicant had been convicted of a range of listed serious offences. These include murder, rape or sexual assault, armed robbery, [22]drug trafficking or other offences carrying a sentence of more than ten years in jail. The group recommended a ten year gap before granting a licence to persons convicted of a range of other offences.

The Bill we are discussing does not incorporate the detailed and prescriptive approach recommended by the consultative group and now contained in the amendment. Instead it requires the authority to consider each application on its merits. Section 35 provides that an applicant for a licence and any licensee seeking a renewal who has been convicted of an offence or against whom proceedings for an offence are pending shall notify the authority of the conviction or proceedings in a prescribed manner. For its part, the authority may, having considered the applicant’s character and competence, grant a licence or refuse to grant a licence if it considers that the applicant is not a fit and proper person to provide a security service. That is included in section 22. In arriving at its decision, the authority may require verification of information provided by the applicant by affidavit or may require the applicant to supply a certificate from a member of the Garda not below the rank of superintendent. Furthermore, the authority may request the Garda Commissioner to provide any information required for the due performance of its functions with regard to any applicant for a licence or any licensee.

The authority will seek to strike an appropriate balance by operating the licensing system in the public interest and in the best interests of the private security industry while at the same time recognising an individual’s right to earn a living and support himself or herself and to provide for dependants. It is also relevant in this context that the membership of the authority will include a practising barrister or solicitor of not less than five years’ standing and a representative of the Garda not below the rank of assistant commissioner. In the circumstances, I am not disposed to accept the amendment.

Ms Terry: Information on Sheila Terry  Zoom on Sheila Terry  I am disappointed the Minister will not accept the amendment. It would provide a cast iron guarantee that every effort will be made to ensure that criminals who have committed serious offences will be prevented from holding a licence. I support ex-prisoners integrating themselves into the community and securing employment. However, in the case of criminals who have committed serious offences, the amendment will provide the security that is necessary to the general public. I will press the amendment.

Amendment put.

[21][23]The Committee divided: Tá, 14; Níl, 29.

Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Feargal Browne  Zoom on Feargal Browne  Browne, Fergal.
Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  Coghlan, Paul. Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank.
Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  Finucane, Michael. Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Norris, David.
Information on Kathleen O'Meara  Zoom on Kathleen O'Meara  O’Meara, Kathleen. Information on John Paul Phelan  Zoom on John Paul Phelan  Phelan, John.
Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane. Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan.
Information on Sheila Terry  Zoom on Sheila Terry  Terry, Sheila. Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.



[23]Níl
Information on Eddie Bohan  Zoom on Eddie Bohan  Bohan, Eddie. Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian.
Information on Michael Brennan  Zoom on Michael Brennan  Brennan, Michael. Information on Peter Callanan  Zoom on Peter Callanan  Callanan, Peter.
Information on Margaret Cox  Zoom on Margaret Cox  Cox, Margaret. Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  Daly, Brendan.
Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  Dardis, John. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Geraldine Feeney  Zoom on Geraldine Feeney  Feeney, Geraldine. Information on Liam Fitzgerald  Zoom on Liam Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Liam.
Information on Camillus Glynn  Zoom on Camillus Glynn  Glynn, Camillus. Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan.
Information on Tony Kett  Zoom on Tony Kett  Kett, Tony.  Kitt, Michael P.
Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Leyden, Terry. Information on Don Lydon  Zoom on Don Lydon  Lydon, Donal J.
Information on Marc MacSharry  Zoom on Marc MacSharry  MacSharry, Marc. Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin.
Information on John Minihan  Zoom on John Minihan  Minihan, John. Information on Tom Morrissey  Zoom on Tom Morrissey  Morrissey, Tom.
Information on Pat Moylan  Zoom on Pat Moylan  Moylan, Pat. Information on Francis O'Brien  Zoom on Francis O'Brien  O’Brien, Francis.
Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Ó Murchú, Labhrás. Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary.
Information on Ann Ormonde  Zoom on Ann Ormonde  Ormonde, Ann. Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon.
Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  Walsh, Jim. Information on Mary M. White  Zoom on Mary M. White  White, Mary M.
Information on Diarmuid Wilson  Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson  Wilson, Diarmuid.  

[23]Tellers: Tá, Senators Terry and Tuffy; Níl, Senators Minihan and Moylan.

[23]Amendment declared lost.

Government amendment No. 13:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 23, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 24 to 28, inclusive, agreed to.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Dardis): Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  Amendments Nos. 14, 22 and 23 are related and may be taken together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 14:

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  Section 29(7) makes it an offence for an individual to produce for inspection an identity card issued to another person by the authority or to forge or use a document purporting to be such an identity card. [24]It does not deal specifically with a situation in which a person produces an identification document issued by a corresponding authority to another person or a forgery of such a document.

This amendment broadens the definition of “identity card” for the purposes of subsection (7) to include a form of identification issued by a corresponding authority. This will mean that it will also be an offence for an individual to produce an identity card or form of identification issued by a corresponding authority or to forge or use such a document. The amendments to Schedule 3 are consequential, technical amendments involving the deletion of a superfluous subparagraph in paragraph 5(d).

Amendment agreed to.

Section 29, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 30 to 45, inclusive, agreed to.

Government amendment No. 15:

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  This is a minor drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 46, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 47 to 49, inclusive, agreed to.

[25]

Government amendment No. 16:

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  This is essentially a drafting amendment designed to clarify the content and improve the presentation of section 50(1).

Amendment agreed to.

Section 50, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 51 and 52 agreed to.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Government amendment No. 17:

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  This is essentially a drafting amendment designed to clarify the content and improve the presentation of paragraph 14(1) of Schedule 2.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  I move amendment No. 18:

The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the applicant or holder of a licence has the last [26]word in the appeals process. This is to ensure fair procedures are upheld. An applicant or holder has something akin to a property right or right to earn a livelihood and fair procedures must apply. Accordingly, he or she must have the right to comment on submissions made by others.

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  Schedule 2 sets out the procedure for dealing with appeals. The provisions regarding the service of a notice of appeal by an appellant and the making of submissions by other persons allow each person to make only one submission in regard to the appeal unless the appeal board requests further submissions or observations from that person. The proposed amendment is inconsistent with that approach. Furthermore, it would be inappropriate to require all submissions received by the appeal board to be supplied to the licensee without also supplying them to the other parties to the appeal.

In addition, there may be circumstances where it would be inappropriate for submissions to be provided to persons other than the appeal board. To give an example, a situation could arise where a licence is revoked by the private security authority on foot of information from the Garda Síochána that the licensee is involved in paramilitary activity. If the licensee appealed the revocation of the licence and the appeal board requested a submission from the Garda, it might not be appropriate that the submission from the Garda regarding the licensee’s activities be given to the licensee.

The amendment proposes that the licensee would submit submissions or observations to the private security authority. The authority is not the appropriate party to consider submissions made in the context of an appeal. That is the role of the appeal board. In the circumstances I am not disposed to accept the amendment.

Ms Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  What does the Minister of State say about the issue of fairness? The licence holder or applicant could lose out because of something submitted about them, but will not have a final opportunity to respond to it. That would not be fair, given that the consequences are significant.

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  The advice from the Attorney General is to proceed in the way we have. I cannot, therefore, accept the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Government Amendment No. 19:

[27]

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  This is a technical amendment. It amends the paragraph dealing with oral hearings of appeals by inserting a new subparagraph in order to make it clear that the time limit within which a party to the appeal, other than the authority, can request an oral hearing shall be one month from the date of receipt of the notice of appeal.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Government amendment No. 20:

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  This is a technical amendment. It updates the list of provisions in paragraph 1 of Schedule 3 that do not apply to relevant persons in order to take account of previous amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  Amendment No. 21 is a Government amendment, amendment No. 25 is related, therefore, amendments Nos. 21 and 25 may be discussed together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 21:

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  These two amendments provide that any standards laid down by the authority in relation to the provision of security services in the State shall apply also to the relevant persons. An example might be technical standards for the protection of cash in transit. These standards will have to be respected irrespective of whether the person concerned is a licensee who holds a licence from the authority or a relevant person who holds a licence from a corresponding authority.

[28]Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 22:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 23:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 24:

Mr. T. O’Malley: Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  This is a technical amendment involving the deletion of a superfluous paragraph in Schedule 3.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 25:

Amendment agreed to

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

Ms Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  I apologise for being late this morning. Unfortunately I missed my amendments. I hope I might be allowed to re-submit them on Report Stage. I understand that in order to do that I must mention them at this Stage. It is important that I get the opportunity to re-submit them. They relate to the compilation of the authority. There is also an amendment on contempt of court and on the Freedom of Information Act, which provides that the applicant should have to provide information. As the Bill is currently drafted, that is required on a discretionary basis. There is also an amendment dealing with identifying the beneficial owners of corporations. I would like the opportunity to re-submit them.

Acting Chairman: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  If they have been negatived they cannot be reintroduced. I suggest that the Senator consult with the Clerk’s office, which will be able to guide her on this matter.

[29]Ms Terry: Information on Sheila Terry  Zoom on Sheila Terry  I welcome the Bill and look forward to Report Stage when I will be resubmitting amendments in my name. I wish to resubmit, in particular, the amendment dealing with remuneration to ensure that door supervisors in clubs cannot get drink as part of their remuneration. I thank the Minister of State and his staff for their attendance.

Acting Chairman: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  When is it proposed to take Report Stage?

Mr. J. Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  Tomorrow.

Report Stage ordered for Thursday, 1 April 2004.

Sitting suspended at 12 noon and resumed at 1.30 p.m.


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