Thursday, 23 June 2005
Joe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
While the Private Security Services Bill was introduced in 2001, it only progressed through the Oireachtas in 2004. The Government dragged its heels with regard to the Bill. Ireland is the last of all the countries in Europe to introduce regulation, licensing, standards, training, vetting and monitoring of the private security service, but the authority is still not operational. Its members have only recently been appointed and the Minister has just stated that the first licences will not emanate from the authority until October next, and that will only happen on such a phased basis that it will be 2007 before service providers are licensed. Is this not a disgrace? One of the largest industries in the country, in excess of the combined strength of the Garda Síochána and the Army — the public security forces that have stringent regulations and standards — is totally unregulated, with no vetting procedures, no licensing procedures and no standards provided at all. Does the Minister agree this is an area where the black market has operated for a considerable period of time? It is an area infiltrated by questionable people, including redundant paramilitaries, from building site to bouncer. The State has shown no urgency in this matter. Is it not ironic that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, who has spoken out so strongly on paramilitary and criminal activity, has done nothing to prevent people with dubious credentials from establishing their career in this area and that the State is to blame?