I wish to share my time with Deputies McGuinness, Ardagh, McGennis and Michael Moynihan.
Private Members' Business. - Door Supervisors Bill, 1997: Second Stage (Resumed).
Is that agreed? Agreed.
In congratulating Deputy Farrelly on introducing the Bill I echo the Minister's remarks and share his reservations. I favour the regulation of the security industry and can see the wisdom of examining the merits of the proposals outlined in the consultative group's report. It would be wise also to study EU standards in this field.
The private security industry in general is in need of regulation, particularly when it comes to the employment of door security staff. It is unfortunate that the most popular description of personnel in this discipline is "bouncer". While this terminology may be apt in the case of some security staff, I cannot agree it is a fair description of the majority of those performing this essential and, at times, dangerous duty. Unfortunately, there are those who believe the best method of enforcing door security measures is the aggressive approach. Those who have this mental perception of their terms of employment should not be involved in the door security arena.
The role of supervisor of security staff is of prime importance. The vast majority of supervisors ensure that those who work for and with them are psychologically suited to the work. They monitor the number of patrons frequenting the premises under their care, ensure they have male and female security staff, as required, and have a clearly defined policy stipulating the actions to be taken by security staff. There are certain matters which need to be handled with tact at all times. Door security staff frequently find that they have to exercise their right to refuse admission to premises. The manner of security personnel is of vital importance. A flat refusal of entry without explanation can lead to an explosive situation. A moderate and measured explanation will normally result in acceptance of the right to refuse entry.
There are also problems associated with asking patrons to leave premises. This should never be done by a security person who interprets his or her role as that of a "chucker out", as it is known in Cork. It is more effective to continuously monitor the behaviour of clients and to avoid major problems by nipping potential trouble in the bud. Most patrons will react responsibly, reasonably and favourably to an even handed approach.
Complaints are regularly made to security staff about overcrowding, noise levels or the behaviour of other patrons. Many complaints are valid, although some are imaginary, but they must all be treated with respect. This means employing staff who are capable of mature assessment and reaction and who can handle situations with discretion. Nowhere is this more important than when force is required to restrain patrons who have lost self-control through drink, drugs or as a result of a heated argument. They must exercise only enough force to control a situation as overreacting could be fatal. They may have to escort the offenders from the premises and exercise judgment on whether to call the gardaí. They must at all times remain calm and distance themselves from heated arguments and excessive force. Our compensation culture means the threat of legal action is always present. Security management and staff must assist the organisers of functions to ensure that premises are not overcrowded.
Security staff play a pivotal role in ensuring that the licensing laws are observed. We are currently reviewing the trading times of licensed premises. At a meeting of the sub-committee of the Committee on Justice, Equality and Women's Rights I proposed that Deputy Farrelly's Bill be referred to the Minister to see if licensing provisions could be included. When Deputy Owen was Minister for Justice she proposed a similar course of action. She said she would ask the consultative group to look specifically at this growing area of security with a view to regulation. She said she could envisage that once the industry was regulated, a condition for people seeking licences for premises such as pubs, discos, etc. would be that they would use only registered security people to provide security services at their premises. I am convinced that such provisions could be incorporated in this Bill. I am concerned about people drinking and then intimidating pedestrians on the pavements outside the premises. We need more regulations in this area.
Security staff must know where fire fighting equipment is on the premises and the position of fire escape routes which must be kept clear. They must ensure that such equipment is in good working order. They must be aware of the constraints imposed by fire fighting regulations. They must have an overall insight into the many aspects of stewardship required in the locations where they work. They must know where first aid facilities are stored and how to administer basic first aid. They must note and record all incidents in a register. If a member of the public becomes sick or is accidentally injured, they must report it.
There is more to security than keeping good order. That is why we cannot pass this Bill without examining every aspect of the security business. I ask Deputy Farrelly to accept the Minister's prudent approach so that a consensus can be reached in this important debate. We should continue to examine the report of the consultative group and wait for the proposals the Minister will bring to Government. I urge the industry to immediately introduce a voluntary code of practice for its door and event supervisors, as we wait for the Minister to put regulations on a statutory basis. I am sure all Members of the House share my faith in the ability and commitment of the Minister to address this matter.
I am delighted the Bill is before the House because it gives us an opportunity to focus on this serious issue and on the provision of security services by the private sector. Although the Bill is well intentioned, its focus is too narrow. However, it should form part of the study undertaken by the consultative group. I look forward to a review of security firms and operators and to more comprehensive legislation for the industry as a whole.
As we have seen on the Continent, security firms are widening their activities to include event management, crowd control and on-site security and are taking over the traditional role of bouncers. I disagree with Deputy Farrelly's remarks on the radio yesterday evening because his description of bouncers' activities was too severe. A few people can give any business a bad name. I would like to think that bouncers who breach the norm are in the minority.
Today's bouncers must be aware of everything on the premises. A lot of responsibility is placed on their shoulders and they are expected to be experts on underage drinking and drug abuse. They are supposed to know the building and fire regulations and they are expected to deal with first aid issues. These expectations are too high. Most bouncers are employed on an ad hoc basis, yet they often become key personnel on doors and in buildings late at night. They are expected to respond to all situations and to restrain themselves from using physical force. They must also understand the principles of physical crisis management.
Security firms must educate the personnel they employ as bouncers. It should be incumbent on them to ensure that the person they place at the door to maintain crowd control or to carry out any of the functions described in the Bill is familiar with their surroundings and capable of dealing with any situation that could arise.
Regulations should ensure that bouncers have the skills necessary to carry out their job in a responsible manner. There should also be a body at national level to monitor criteria laid down in legislation to ensure a more responsible response from the employer and employee. They are regulations to which those employed in the freight business, accountancy firms or any organisations adhere and they can be monitored and policed in such a way that serious penalties can be imposed on those who breach them. A serious penalty should also be imposed on offenders who cause difficulties on or at the door of premises because on occasions they get away far too lightly. I support the Government's intentions in regard to this matter and I hope comprehensive legislation will be introduced. Such legislation must also take account of the health and safety issues surrounding any business or premises which do not appear to be included in the Bill. Comprehensive legislation is needed to cover the security activity of firms.
I congratulate Deputy Farrelly on introducing this Private Members' Bill. It is a monumental task and it must be nerve-wracking to listen to both sides of the argument and hope that one's Bill will get through the House. The spirit of the Bill is laudable and I am sure every Member agrees with it. However, there are wider issues that the Minister and the Government must consider as well as the matters covered in this Bill. The Minister mentioned issues of recruitment, training requirements, monitoring of working hours and the standards of employment. It is hoped that all those issues will be addressed soon in a Government Bill.
The Minister said the work is largely believed to be part-time in nature and is conducted mainly in the black economy. On a recent television programme I heard the managing director of a very substantial security company report that he had great difficulty in recruiting employees. That can be partly explained by the fact that the rates of pay in that industry are between £4 and £5 per hour and because of some of the poverty traps that still remain within our system. We hope to eliminate them over time — some of them were addressed in the budget, particularly the family income supplement which will now be calculated on net rather than gross income. The rates of pay that pertain in the industry are not attractive to the unemployed and there is a tendency for those employed in this industry to work in the black economy. That must be addressed also, but it can only be adequately addressed by also taking into account the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs, and company law.
As well as the need for this industry to be regulated by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform through the police force, the question of self-regulation must also be examined. There is a need for the security industry in general to improve its image and to develop in a professional manner. Electricians are affiliated to a body, RECI, which applies standards set by Eolas which has developed standards that are acceptable. Such self-regulatory bodies are becoming more acceptable to the general public. Perhaps the regulation of this industry should not be monitored by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform but by a self-regulatory body assisted by the Department in setting the standards to be adopted and used by companies and organisations in the industry.
A main concern about bouncers or door supervisors, as Deputy Farrelly kindly referred to them, is whether my children will be safe when they attend discos and clubs. There is anecdotal evidence that some bouncers are aggressive and that people aged between 18 and 25 who have appeared to have had too much to drink are liable to be badly beaten up if they give any lip to a bouncer. That is not tenable or acceptable. However, patrons of those premises inform me that good clubs employ decent bouncers and that the standard of bouncers is good in clubs that are regarded as nice places to go. That must be recognised. We should not tar all bouncers in all clubs with the same brush.
A friend of mine who is a steward in Luton University's student union works as a bouncer at the door of a disco. He had to attend a two week course for one hour a day which involved a programme of drug awareness, crowd control and first aid. That type of course run under the auspices of a self-regulatory body should be mandatory for bouncers or door supervisors.
There are many worthwhile recommendations in the report of the consultative group. I look forward to examining them in greater detail in the months ahead and to ensuring the spirit of this legislation will be part of the law.
I join my colleagues in congratulating Deputy Farrelly on introducing this Bill because it is no small task to introduce a Private Members' Bill. If it does not achieve anything else, it will have put into sharp focus the need for such legislation and I am sure the Minister will introduce a Bill fast on the heels of this one.
There was a reference to the history of problems surrounding doormen and bouncers which is true to an extent, but I do not know to what extent. The Minister mentioned that approximately 10,000 people are employed in the security business and that excluded bouncers or doormen. It would be freely admitted that even if one walked past a nightclub or pub one would presume bouncers had been hired on the basis of their brawn rather than their brain. That appears to be the visible criterion on which people are selected for the job.
It is a difficult job and not one I would like to do. Deputy Ardagh referred to concerns about the safety of young people. I would also be concerned that my children are safe and would not be at risk of being brutalised by someone who was breaking the law. It must be acknowledged that those bouncers who do a good job protect us and our children from the louts and thugs who want to create trouble. I know people who do that work and jumping into the middle of a melee between two or three young men or women who decide to have a punch up is not a pleasant way to earn £20, £30 or whatever they earn a night. Those who do a good job and try to intervene must be acknowledged.
The Bill specifically refers to pubs and clubs but security also applies to department stores and shops and this also needs regulation. I refer to minority groups who have been treated appallingly, in particular the travelling community who as a general rule appear to be excluded from admittance to hotels, pubs and certain shops. There is a need to deal with this issue in a fair and just fashion across the board. It is difficult to understand the arbitrary way in which decisions have been made and that should not be allowed.
A comprehensive approach is required and the group which examined this issue is representative of the security industry, including members of IBEC, SIPTU, the Garda, the Health and Safety Authority and the National Standards Authority and recognised the need for regulation. The Minister referred to offences, such as robbery, which should debar an individual from employment. Individuals with convictions for assault should automatically be debarred from employment in the security industry and this should form part of the regulations that are drawn up. However, this should apply to those with a history of assaults, not individuals who made a mistake years ago.
I have a problem with what is interpreted as a constitutional difficulty in regard to obtaining information from the Garda on potential employees. The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1992, allows for such exchange of information where somebody of an anti-social nature can be investigated. Constituents of mine have had to sign consent forms with the local authority to allow it to investigate them. A way should be found around obtaining such information and it should not be used as an excuse for not doing anything. I congratulate the Deputy and hope he accepts we are fully supportive of his Bill. I also hope he will allow the Minister to introduce legislation.
I congratulate the Deputy on bringing forward the Bill. One of the issues about which there is a great deal of concern in terms of door security for night clubs and pubs is overcrowding. Reference to night clubs and dances casts one's mind back to the Stardust disaster in February 1981. Door security staff should be trained in basic first aid and be aware of fire escapes and emergency exits because of the very nature of the job. People become aggressive under the influence of alcohol and drugs, which may not normally be in their nature and the lives of others are put in danger, not just those who are out for a night's entertainment but also the staff of the night clubs. It is important this is considered by the Minister when preparing legislation.
I wish to share my time with Deputies Higgins (Mayo), Perry and Hayes.
Is that agreed? Agreed.
I welcome the publication of the Bill and congratulate Deputy Farrelly on it and the considerable preparation he did. I also acknowledge his diligence and patience. It is most unusual that an Opposition Deputy is being love bombed by members of the Government. They have congratulated him on raising serious issues yet, at the same time they are protecting and defending the Minister who refuses to accept Deputy Farrelly's points.
No, he is not, he is not taking on the Bill.
I listened carefully to the Deputy and ask her to extend the same courtesy to me.
Deputy McManus, without interruption, please.
I am worried by the Minister's response and the fact that Deputy Farrelly's commitment has not been matched by him. He refused to accept the Bill and his grounds for doing so are that the Bill needs to be amended and the security industry requires wide and comprehensive legislation to meet present and future needs. I accept the first premise may be true and I have great confidence in the officials of the Department to be able to right any deficiencies on Committee Stage. I agree the future of the industry requires close and careful consideration but I cannot accept that the Minister refuses to deal speedily with an issue that affects the security and well being of thousands of young people. Most parents of teenage children, such as myself, find this worrying and unacceptable.
Clubs and discos aimed at young people have mushroomed in recent years. We know that in some of them, they are enticed into taking drugs or are offered them. According to the Eastern Health Board, 35 per cent of young people have had such an experience. We also know from anecdotal and hard evidence that in certain cases organised criminals dealing in drugs have moved in on new markets for their trade by controlling and managing bouncers at discos and clubs. An easier way to gain access to potential victims is hard to imagine.
This is the cause of worry and anxiety among parents. Many young people have an unprecedented level of disposal income and ways to spend it. All types of places of entertainment, decent and otherwise, have sprung up in response and these are often guarded by unregulated, unregistered bouncers. That is not acceptable and the Minister has a duty to act on this and not rely on a long-term strategy relating to the industry and certainly not the leisurely and reflective approach which he is adopting towards the industry generally. I am sure there are interesting debates to be had with regard to the future of the industry. The issue is one of importance with which the Minister needs to deal now.
There is no desire to penalise anybody who observes good industrial and business practice under the Bill. Nobody operating a legitimate door supervision business has anything to fear. They have much to gain from such legislation. We must recognise there is a twilight world in which some bouncers operate, one which cloaks misdemeanours and tax evasion and by its very secrecy, disguises serious crime, particularly drug dealing which targets young people.
The Minister must alter his mindset and look at the issue in terms of the danger which exists for young people because of a lack of regulation of bouncers who in the main work in places frequented by them often late into the night. This measure should be seen as part of a zero tolerance strategy against drugs. This strategy was very ably embarked on by the Minister's predecessor. However, despite his enthusiasm in Opposition, the Minister is sadly unwilling to extend this strategy to cover this aspect.
The Bill will deal with the cowboys who avail of the benefits of unregulated activity. The lack of information on the number of bouncers speaks for itself. The fact that many bouncers operate in the black economy and do not have to be registered or trained underpins the need for regulation. Government speakers referred to the lack of training, which is fundamental. Like every service, this industry needs to be made more professional and put on a proper footing. There is also a need for an identification system for bouncers whether by number or badge so that there is accountability when complaints are made and an individual bouncer can be called to account.
I am concerned at reports that members of the Defence Forces and Garda work as bouncers. Under the Constitution they have a right to do so outside their normal working time, but the Garda Commissioner has requested members of the force to declare such work to him as clearly there are situations where there are conflicts of interest. This area would also benefit from proper regulation.
It is extraordinary that the Minister has a difficulty with the notion of certification of fitness to work as a bouncer. In recent cases bouncers have been brought before the courts — I have no doubt they are only a fraction of the total number — in relation to actions which were illegal and extremely serious. If action is not taken it is inevitable that further cases will come before the courts. Is that what the Minister wants? Is he aware that he has a responsibility to deal with this issue?
The present position is clearly unsatisfactory and we should not wait to deal with it until the consultation process is completed, the recommendations are drawn up and the work is done at Cabinet level. This process can take many months, if not years. This problem needs to be addressed now.
The Minister said: "The Government should only regulate where there is a clear need to do so and where the public interest would be served by such regulation". This issue is crying out for proper regulation on both these counts. Why wait until later when Deputy Farrelly is offering an opportunity to meet that need and serve the public interest?
(Mayo): Like Deputy McManus, I am dismayed, flabbergasted and disappointed that the Minister has not seen fit to accept this measure. I have been a Deputy for 11 years and I have seldom heard such commendations of an Opposition Bill which has been given a decisive thumbs down by the Government. One cannot have it both ways. If the Bill is as good as the Minister says then the obvious thing to do is accept it and amend it on Committee Stage.
I contrast this with the approach of the previous Government who repeatedly acknowledged that constructive measures put forward by the Opposition would be accepted, put into Committee and amended. The Minister of State, Deputy Mary Wallace, can testify that I was involved in ensuring that her legislation dealing with people with disabilities was accepted by the House, sent to Committee and enacted. The Minister is doing himself and the general public a gross disservice by having such a closed, cloistered and cluttered mind to accepting legislation which has much to commend it.
I am amused at the attitude that we should wait until people have deliberated on the report of the consultative committee, after which we are supposed to see a so-called better Bill. I have with me the Government's legislative programme issued on 23 January. The programme is divided into sections A, B, C, and D. Section B lists 16 Bills which are before the Dáil and Seanad, section C lists 15 Bills which the Government expects to publish this session and section D contains the also rans, so to speak, with the great expectation that they will be enacted before the expiry of the Government. I read the legislative programme for the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform but did not see reference to a Bill which will regulate the private security industry. The programme lists the following Bills: Attachment to Earnings Bill, Civil Evidence Bill, Contractual Obligations Bill, Council of Europe (Amendment) Bill, Criminal Justice Bill, the Criminal Law (Insanity) Bill, Criminal Law (United Nations) Bill, Data Protection Bill, Defamation Bill, Disabilities Bill, Equal Status Bill, Family Law Bill, Family Law (International Protection) Bill, Fraud Offences Bill, Fund-raising for Charitable and Other Purposes Bill, Ground Rent Bill, Indexation of Fines Bill, Judicial Pensions Bill, Land Registry Bill, Parental Leave Bill, Prevention of Corruption Bill, Prison Service Bill, Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill and Trust Bill. One is talking about the next millennium, and possibly 2010, before that job lot is dealt with.
The Government will have changed three times.
(Mayo): This underpins the hypocrisy of not accepting the legislation. I wish the Minister had been his own man and had not once again accepted lock, stock and barrel the advice proffered to him by his Department.
This is a good Bill and I commend Deputy Farrelly on introducing it after much tedious and painstaking effort. I know the amount of research undertaken as I worked closely with Deputy Farrelly. It has been acknowledged virtually by everyone, including members of the security industry, that the time for regulation is long overdue. This Bill is just one element. Some people say it is too narrow but this is not true. Rather the Bill is clear, workable and prescriptive. It proposes the setting up of a register to which the public will have full access and which will be available in every Garda station. It also proposes the setting up of a proper application procedure under which a person has to make an application to the Garda superintendent and due notice is placed in the local newspapers.
It proposes the verification of personal fitness, which is crucially important. It states that certification must be provided in relation to the appropriateness of the individual applying for the particular post in question. It clearly states that a person debarred from qualifying or receiving a certificate of fitness has redress to the courts. It proposes the setting up of an appeals procedure and provides that a person not on the official register cannot present themselves as a door supervisor at a licensed premises, disco or dance hall. It ensures that records are kept up to date and are available for inspection. It insists that there must be clear visible identification and authentication of a person's right to work as a doorman or bouncer.
It is incredible that this clear, prescriptive and workable legislation has not been accepted. Deputy Farrelly's Bill will fill a vacuum. It is incredible that all there is in an industry which is supposed to look after the welfare of three quarters of a million young people for three or four hours every weekend is laissez-faire ad hockery and lack of supervision. This measure should have been embraced by the Minister and the Department, yet while it has been praised and love-bombed, it has been rejected. That is the net result of the discussion — the Government may compliment the legislation all it likes but if the measure is not accepted it is doomed to failure.
Also doomed are the thousands of youngsters, some under age, who will go to discos this weekend and have open access to drugs, in many cases for the first time. As was said last night, discos are the Mecca and marketplace for the drug scene. The EHB statistics show that we have epidemics of drugs and drink and that these cancers in our society are growing worse. Yet this clear, simple, prescriptive, effective, workable measure is being thrown out because the Government could not be receptive enough to accept it for what it is.
Drugs have now become the norm in even the smallest towns and villages. The graveyards of rural Ireland are filling up just like city cemeteries. The scene has changed from the heroin problem, which was the unfortunate lot of those with no hope in inner-city ghettos, with neither job prospect nor future. Drugs are becoming yuppified as a result of the reckless statements of popular culture figures and are regarded as part and parcel of the challenge of modern society. In these circumstances, a measure to ensure responsible supervision at discos and dancehalls should have been welcomed and rushed through the House. I am aghast that it has not been accepted because the Bill was parsed, analysed and subjected to the most intense scrutiny and I genuinely thought the Government could not reject it. This is a sad day for legislation and the House. I wish that a little more dialogue, consultation and openness of approach had been forthcoming, because society would be all the better for it.
I congratulate Deputy Farrelly on advancing proposals on this issue. The time has come to regulate persons employed for security purposes at a dance or function. Security is a big business not only in night clubs but in daytime businesses like restaurants and take-aways and it is argued that this area should be regulated separately from the mainstream industry.
The biggest question is who decides the difference between appropriate and excessive physical force when restraining an unruly individual. Most would agree that a chokehold of some sort is an appropriate method of restraint but to a bar bouncer "appropriate force" might mean far more. Bouncers can restrain or remove a patron who they believe is being or has been a nuisance, using methods they deem appropriate. Therein lies the problem, because there is no concrete or written list of appropriate and inappropriate techniques and methods.
While most people going to a bar on a given night have no intention of provoking a confrontation, some become rude or unruly and refuse to leave when asked by the establishment's employees. Those employees are justified in employing physical means to remove those who refuse to leave of their own accord. With huge amounts of people crowding into bars on a given night, the potential for incidents like these to escalate into dangerous confrontations is immense.
It would be appropriate to give bouncers courses to teach them to talk rather than hit patrons and it is essential that such courses cover criminal law, common law, the law on assault, incident reporting and first aid. People employed for security purposes in night clubs and other places serving liquor should not have a recent criminal history and should have training in appropriate conflict resolution and restraint techniques.
After an assault involving a security officer working in a night club it is sometimes difficult to get details of the staff involved. If the night club employed the officer on a casual basis, the fact of the employment might not be formally admitted; it might be of mutual benefit to the club and the employee to obscure the fact of employment so that neither the employer nor the employee would pay tax. If the night club engaged a firm to provide security the employment details might be held by that firm. Lack of accountability can also stem from unsafe systems of work.
Some security personnel in night clubs work long hours in difficult and overcrowded conditions. Some get insufficient directions from their employers or have little access to police access or other support if there is violence. Some are poorly trained. There should be proper training for bouncers and a system of regulation. Bouncers should be required to have a licence entitling them to act as such and this licence should enable the bouncer to be identified and recognised. There also should be an independent body to monitor the activities of bouncers. Anyone with a criminal conviction should not be employed. Training should cover crowd control and self-defence.
Many of the problems arising with bouncers are due to their lack of training and the absence of a set standard on their duties. Everyone accepts that bouncers are an essential element in a well maintained and run night club or licensed establishment. However, it is extremely important that they do not abuse their position and that they recognise they have a duty not alone to their employers but to the patrons of the establishment in which they work and the public at large.
A night club bouncer was jailed recently for an assault on a customer. That is a serious threat and this legislation would protect both the patron and the bouncer. A person who assaults another is guilty of an offence. This may be relevant if a bouncer uses force in excess of what is required to remove or exclude a person from the premises. A number of other offences should be noted. If a bouncer causes unlawful wounding or bodily harm he will be guilty of assault. If an action is unlawful it is of itself a criminal act, so it does not matter if the victim has consented to it. No person can licence another to commit a crime.
A person may apprehend another in the act of committing or immediately after committing a serious criminal offence. The person apprehended may not be detained but it is necessary and reasonable to allow for the attendance of a police officer or, alternatively, the person apprehended must be brought to the police officer as soon as is reasonable or practicable. The enforcement of this depends on the involvement of the gardaí.
The licensing legislation needs a complete revamp. This has been promised by previous Administrations but we must seriously examine it. Specifically, it is imperative that the law on bouncers be amended soon. The licensing laws date back to the 1890s and are outdated, so the matter requires attention. I compliment Deputy Farrelly on introducing the Bill. Previous speakers have applauded the Bill but it is disappointing that the Government has not seen fit to give it the go-ahead.
I am delighted to welcome the Bill and to congratulate Deputy Farrelly on the work he put into it over the past few months. I am glad that the Minister of State, Deputy Mary Wallace, is in the House because she knows what I am going to say. About a year ago I had the good fortune to be a Member of the Upper House, along with Deputy Farrelly, and the Minister well remembers my comments on the night her Bill was introduced to the House. It was an excellent Bill, designed to extend postal voting to those with a disability. What was the attitude of the Government of the day? It accepted the Bill in the Dáil and in the Seanad, and that legislative initiative by Deputy Wallace in Opposition became law. I lauded and congratulated Deputy Wallace on that occasion. She is now getting red in the face, and rightly so, because that is the kind of action our Government in power encouraged in this House.
It is not good enough to treat this House as some kind of rubber stamp assembly, that the Government has a total font of wisdom and nobody else can get a look in. That is not the notion the Government should put forward in this House. The Minister of State is well aware of the support she received in terms of her own legislative initiative last year when in Opposition.
It is totally frustrating to see good work established on the Opposition benches thrown out by the Government. The Government could accept this legislation on Second Stage, propose a variety of amendments on Committee Stage or keep it on the Order Paper for months, but it should accept the principle at the heart of Deputy Farrelly's Bill, which the Minister's colleagues supported last night.
What message is the Government and the Minister of State sending out to this side of the House? It is the tired old message that whatever is produced on this side of the House will be forgotten as soon as it is put on the Order Paper. I was not in the House last night but I had an opportunity to read the contribution of the Minister, Deputy O'Donoghue. The first comment that jumped out at me concerned the constitutional issue. We always get this argument from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. When the constitutional issue raises its ugly head it sends lights flashing on this side of the House. The Minister said last night that the Bill could have fundamental constitutional implications — another Articles 2 and 3 in the making. To what article was the Minister referring? Perhaps the Minister of State might inform us of this later in the debate. Raising the constitutional issue provides an opportunity for some people in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to play around with certain legislative initiatives.
The Minister also referred to criminal convictions and that various people could not gain access to employment as door supervisors. If the Minister has a view on that he could propose an amendment on Committee Stage. The attitude of the Government, not just in relation to this Bill but to a variety of other initiatives proposed by various parties on this side of the House in the past number of months, is not good enough because it demeans this House and treats those of us on this side as second class citizens. If we are to treat our work here with the important status it deserves the Government owes it to colleagues on this side of the House to accept the principle at the heart of the Bill. It can amend it on Committee Stage and propose a variety of other initiatives but unfortunately the Minister and the Minister of State, Deputy Wallace, who rightly accepted the generosity of the last Government when it accepted legislation she proposed, do not intend to accept the Bill.
I congratulate Deputy Farrelly. On reading the Bill it is obvious that it makes sense. We all know the type of violence that can attach to going out on a Friday or Saturday night, particularly in an urban setting. One only has to listen to some of the radio commentators on Saturday morning to hear about the latest stabbing or the fracas that developed outside a public house or a nightclub. As Deputy McManus said, there is an urgency about this legislation. It is not good enough for the Government to simply reject it and cast it out until we get the view of some experts. That is our job. We can engage as many consultants as we want but it is our job as legislators to change the law. The Government has an opportunity to do that by accepting the Bill and amending it on Committee Stage.
Many parents and young people in particular will not thank the Government for rejecting this legislation because they know that on Friday and Saturday nights in many areas of this city their children are being exposed to untold risks. They want this House to do something about that. Deputy Farrelly has given us an opportunity to address this problem but the Government is throwing it away.
The Minister of State should be ashamed because if she were on this side of the House and I was in the fortunate position to be sitting where she is now, I would accept the Bill.
Most speakers referred to the fact that Deputy Farrelly put a great deal of effort into bringing forward the Bill. Minister O'Donoghue and I in particular recognise that——
They should accept it.
——because when we were in Opposition we brought forward legislation and we know the amount of work required to do that. The Minister was very forthcoming in that regard last night. We acknowledge the report published in January this year and all the comprehensive issues surrounding this area. In fairness to Deputy McGennis, people are genuine in commending Deputy Farrelly on raising this issue and the work he has done to bring forward the legislation.
Last night the Minister went into great detail to explain the reason the Government will not accept the Bill. He emphasised that it is with regret and based on careful consideration of the Bill and related issues of a significant nature that the Government arrived at its decision. I do not intend to go over the same ground but I should mention that a number of provisions in the Bill, particularly with regard to access to employment, raise significant constitutional issues affecting the fundamental rights of the individual which would need careful consideration——
What aspect of the Constitution?
We are talking about access to employment and regard for the individual's——
It must be understood that this is an issue which gives rise to possible new concepts in law which must be addressed.
The provisions of the Bill are restrictive in that they do not address the wider issues which need to be addressed. If one goes through the report one can see the issues that need to be addressed in any proposals aimed at regulating——
If the Minister of State wants me to do that, I will do it.
The Deputy will have a chance to reply to the debate.
——or raising standards in the industry. Issues such as recruitment, training, monitoring of work, employment standards and so on must be addressed. Deputies made excellent points about the type of training required in this area — as Deputy Farrelly's Bill indicated — in regard to safety, responding to emergencies and dealing with large groups of people. Deputy Naughten echoed those important points about training last night. There is general acceptance that in any proposals to regulate the security industry, wider issues than simply accessing the industry need to be addressed if overall standards are to be improved and professionalism achieved.
Deputies Ring, O'Flynn, Ardagh, McGennis, Moynihan and McManus rightly drew attention to general concerns about the attitudes and behaviour of some door supervisors who act in an aggressive manner and appear to think they are immune to the law. The Minister took the opportunity last night to spell out that there are no special legal privileges unique to this employment.
Deputy Farrelly's Bill is concerned solely with provisions for the registration, control and supervision of persons engaged as door supervisors at licensed premises. In this regard, the Bill confines itself to this narrow sector of what is a very broad, wide-ranging, multimillion pound security industry. There was a reference last night to the need to regulate door supervisors as part of the entertainment industry. The Minister went to some lengths to explain we are talking here about regulating the private security industry, an industry with over 10,000 employees, over 400 companies and an annual turnover estimated at about £200 million. Door supervisors are only part of that broad spectrum of the industry and any proposals to regulate them must be addressed with the bigger picture in mind.
It has been the view of most Members for some time that there is a need for proper regulation of the security industry. In using the word "proper", we do not mean any disrespect to the Bill, which all sides acknowledge has considerable merit, but we wish to simply emphasise the broader issues which are not addressed in it. That point was also made by Deputy McGennis.
The report of the consultative group was published at the end of January. The Minister stated that Deputy Farrelly made a submission to the group and it is recognised he has a long-standing interest in the area. The report's conclusions and recommendations were also referred to. It is worth recalling that the consultative group emphasised that any regulatory framework for the security industry will not only have to deal with the question of access to the industry, but also with a series of issues aimed at having a significant impact on the industry in the medium and long-term. These issues are not addressed in Deputy Farrelly's Bill but were considered essential by the consultative group in professionalising the industry and in improving standards in employment and training generally.
The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is giving detailed consideration to the recommendations in the report. He has acknowledged that complex legislation would be required to give effect to its central recommendations. The Minister has announced his intention to consult formally in the immediate future with his colleagues in Government who have an interest in the recommendations of the consultative group which impinge on their areas of responsibility. When the Minister has completed that consultation he intends to immediately bring proposals to Government which will recommend an appropriate course of action. In so doing, he will be mindful of the need to ensure all other possible approaches to regulation have been fully explored.
I hope Deputy Farrelly will understand and appreciate why the Government has decided not to accept the Bill. I trust he will also accept there is a need to consider the private security industry as a whole rather than legislating for one small part of it. I appreciate and accept his view that if he had intended to legislate for the broad security he would have brought forward a Bill to do so.
I might do that because the Minister has no intention of doing it.
I hope he will also accept the Government is genuine in this regard and appreciates the fact he raised the issue.
A comprehensive approach is needed. This significant point was made by the consultative group when it underlined the best way to address all the complex issues highlighted in its report is through a combination of comprehensive measures. The Minister has given a commitment that he will bring proposals to Government recommending the most realistic, effective and appropriate course of action to deal with the industry. We urge the House to await these proposals.
The Minister, Deputy O'Donoghue, and I genuinely recognise the work involved in bringing forward this Bill. In doing so Deputy Farrelly has again highlighted this issue and the Minister has given a commitment to bring proposals to Government on the matter.
I thank those who contributed to the debate over the past two evenings — Deputies Ring, Naughten, Upton, O'Flynn, McGennis, Ardagh, Moynihan, McManus, Higgins, Perry and Hayes and the Minister and Minister of State. It is regrettable, given the importance of the issue and that 750,000 people visit the clubs, pubs and entertainment venues concerned, that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Minister of State, who is my constituency colleague, and the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, Deputy Dempsey, could not persuade their colleagues to accept and implement this Bill.
I did not say the Bill had all the answers. The Minister, the Minister of State and all the Fianna Fáil speakers said the Bill is too narrow. If I had wanted to produce a Bill for licensing the security industry I would have done so. I think the officials in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform have no intention of assisting bringing forward legislation, given that my colleague, Deputy Jim Higgins, mentioned there are 35 items of legislation on the Department's list but not a word about the security industry. I cannot let tonight pass without repeating to the Minister and Minister of State that they are seen by the officials as car passengers with provisional licences and that the officials regard themselves as running the Department.
Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats, with the Independents who will support them tonight, are saying to the young people that they care about them but not enough to look after them when they go out socialising.
The Minister did not mention the problems of assault, drugs or the black economy. He mentioned constitutional problems and that the Department of Finance might not be able to fund this legislation. I stand over my statement that this legislation is self-financing. It is quite obvious that the Minister, the Minister of State or anybody else in the Department did not try to find out whether it is self-financing because I know it is, even at £10 per head per licence.
Is it not quite odd that the thousands of dogs in the security industry are licensed by regulation under the Department of the Environment and Local Government but that dog handlers do not need a licence? Is it not odd that while the Government tells us it will look after us down the road, many serious incidents have occurred over the past six months, including murders and guards being shot in the middle of the night, arising from feuds between doormen trying to get space to peddle drugs to young people in this city? Many serious incidents have arisen from feuds over the past six months, including murders and guards being shot in the middle of the night. In addition, doormen have tried to get space to peddle drugs to young people throughout this city. Yet the Government has given the perception to thousands of young people that the concept of zero tolerance goes no further than the gates of this House.
This proposal has received support from everybody, including overwhelming support from the Fianna Fáil Party. Deputies and Senators are agreed on the need for it. However, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has told its Minister and Minister of State that it cannot proceed with it, despite the fact that people in this and other industries have sought such legislation for 20 years. The legitimate companies in the industry want the situation cleaned up because the illegitimate companies are under pricing and under cutting them. All the information I have received from every area of the industry confirms this.
The consultative group was established by the Minister's predecessor because the then Department of Justice took the view that it would act as a fob to get it as far as 1998. Three months after the report of the group was sent to the Minister the Department has decided to fob matter off again until 1999. It has no intention of leap frogging the 16 Bills before the House to legislate for the security industry.
Does anybody care about the pressures which young children face from the age of 12? There is not a town in Ireland which has escaped these pressures nor one which has escaped the opportunities available to people to push their wares, such as drugs. Despite this, we in this House are failing to legislate to help to protect these children. They have enough worries without the additional stress of wondering whether an ecstasy tablet has been placed in their mineral drinks. We need legislation to licence those who protect them and to make owners of clubs and pubs responsible for those who work for them.
When I started on this road a year ago I never said I would make proposals to license the full security industry. However, if by this day two months there is no proposed Bill before the House I will introduce another Bill which will be broad enough to receive not only the support of this side of the House but the support of the country to the extent that the Government will be swamped. The Minister of State may laugh but I cannot stand the hypocrisy of those who, seven months ago, travelled the country, spoke of zero tolerance and promised protection to those affected by crime.
Many people today suffer and have suffered from misdemeanours inflicted on them by people whose name could never be found. This legislation proposes a register, accountability, proper training and an assurance that employers are answerable. Many of those seeking redress have only been able to produce the first name of their assailants. If the Minister advises that there could be a constitutional problem with such a simple proposal, why are we paying the Civil Service and the Government's legal advisers to ensure that the necessary changes to proposed legislation are undertaken in the best interests of the majority of those it seeks to protect?
I thank all those who helped me to introduce this legislation, including the members of my party's Front Bench who ensured that this Bill reached the floor of the House. I also thank the huge number of people who telephoned and those who sent letters of support from the various organisations throughout the country who said it was the first time sensible legislation was proposed to protect not only them but the individuals using their premises. The majority of people involved in this industry are doing an excellent job. It is a small percentage of people who have brought it into disarray.
The Government's failure to accept this legislation will allow individuals to hire clubs to run discos, supply the doormen and DJs and turn off the drink to sell water at £5 per glass and then sell drugs to their clubbers. There can be no system of check. Not long ago I was alarmed to discover that one such disco occurred not far from the Minister of State's home. It determined me to introduce this legislation. Yet the Government is turning a blind eye to these activities and has indicated it has no intention to regulate the industry.
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