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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 28 Nov 2002

Vol. 558 No. 3

Private Security Services Bill, 2001: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am delighted to speak on this important Bill. The absence of legislation and vetting procedures has opened the doors to people with criminal records working in the security industry. Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe with no legislation to regulate it. It is important that control, regulation and training be brought to bear and it is positive that the regional technical colleges have adopted the subject as a module. As the RTE "Prime Time" documentary revealed some weeks ago, there have been numerous vicious assaults and the industry needs to be regulated and controlled.

Business crime has increased by 10%, costing businesses €775 million. Some 45% of businesses are victims of crime. Theft of stock, cash and property and credit card fraud are increasing and the average cost per incident is €2,181. The incidence of business people being targeted in their own homes in violent crime has increased by 27% and Internet crime has also increased, with an average cost per incident of €4,800. Crime in business has led to increased investment in security equipment and personnel.

Of the 648 companies which responded to a survey carried out by the small businesses association, theft of stock happened in 25% of businesses, criminal damage in 21%, burglary in 19%, theft of cash in 19%, theft of property in 19%, Internet fraud in 10%, credit card fraud in 9%, armed robbery in 2% and other crime in 5%. Crime is a big industry and is now highly organised and on the increase. This is highly professional and planned criminality. Against this background, the Bill provides for the establishment of a body to be known as the private security authority to control and supervise individuals and firms providing security services. The principal function of the authority will be to provide a licensing system for providers of security services in order to maintain and improve standards within the sector. This has been talked about for some time and is welcome. The Bill will give effect to the principal recommendations contained in the report of the consultative group on private security published in 1997. Even though it has taken five years, given the level of crime in the business sector, the Bill is particularly welcome.

Licensed premises are victims of much crime. Equality legislation in the sector also deals with the control of property and security on premises. The Minister of State, Deputy O'Dea, is dealing with this legislation and, having spoken to the Vintners Federation of Ireland, I know its members are happy with his approach. The legislation is creating some difficulties for many people working at the forefront of the tourism industry in hotels, restaurants and pubs. Bringing private security into these premises may help businesses deal better with the provisions of the equality legislation. People feel they have an entitlement to refuse service even though it is a difficult decision to make. One cannot discriminate against any segment of the community, although the vintners have their view on this. There is an obligation on the trade to have security on their premises. It is important that when people do not adhere to the code of conduct on the premises, the licensee has recourse to a regulated security firm. It is not always possible to have the gardaí on hand and they often arrive after the fact. This Bill will go a long way in helping the Minister of State introduce equality legislation, particularly in dealing with the VFI.

Section 6 provides for the establishment of a private security authority which will be independent in the exercise of its function and the details of its operation. Section 7 deals with the composition of the authority and the term of office of its members. It is a standard provision for legislation dealing with the establishment of a public body of this nature. Members will be appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the authority will consist of not more than 11 people. These will include a practising barrister or solicitor, a representative of private security employers and a nominee of the Garda Commissioner and staff representatives. It is important to have members from the licensed trade too, such as the VFI, if we hope to get acceptance of the Bill. The regulation and promotion of this authority is important as is a code of conduct and standards requiring qualifications that could be awarded to suitable individuals.

It is welcome that the Garda is involved because it gives the weight of law to the body. Security personnel should wear uniforms that conform to a certain standard of dress code as well as identifying serial numbers – which relate to registration – on their jackets or lapels so people in night clubs, etc. can identify who they are dealing with and ask for their number. In that way, there can be no subsequent claims that the individuals in question were not on duty on the occasion in question. It is important that the Minister should get it right by introducing those measures in a professional manner, having looked at systems in operation in other jurisdictions. The policing of the system should allow for total traceability.

Adequate resources must be invested in dealing with the growth in violent crime. The issue of crime within business also needs attention, including more effective use of Garda resources and increased provision for detention places. I am also concerned about the operation of the courts system, in terms of bail arrangements, forfeiture and estreatment. There has been a 10% increase in the level of crime against small businesses since the last survey a year ago. That also involves associated costs for businesses, which have been estimated at €181 million, based on an average cost of €2,181, representing an increase of 34% on a 1997 survey figure. Those figures take no account of capital expenditure by small businesses on private security equipment, costing an average of €2,650 per company, plus an additional €842 for maintenance costs.

Private security cameras have provided valuable information to assist the Garda in the investigation of crime. The total cost of criminal activity and preventive measures borne by businesses amounts to €775 million per annum, including night clubs, pubs, hotels, supermarkets and industrial premises. The Minister should take account of that resource and ensure that the security business is properly supervised so that vested interests are dealt with. Relevant security equipment includes alarms, closed circuit television, hidden cameras, access control, time-lock safes and till surveillance. Such facilities are now an everyday part of doing business.

In relation to the courts services, the proportion of people absconding from bail is quite alarming. According to a recent report, the Garda Síochána identified 5,000 cases which arose between 1988 and 1998 as still outstanding. Unexecuted bench warrants are increasing at an annual rate of about one quarter of the number issued in 2000. In 2001, 10,121 bench warrants were issued and, in the same year, the number of such warrants executed was 5,787 in terms of the persons concerned being brought before the relevant courts by the Garda. However, the executed bench warrants are not necessarily for those issued in 2001, indicating that many bench warrants are carried over to the following years. In practice, a warrant execution rate of 100% is regarded as unattainable in the foreseeable future. Of the 10,121 bench warrants issued in 2001, some 1,810 are estimated not to have involved a cash bail amount. However, in 3,297 of the remaining 8,311 cases, there was failure to pursue estreatment. Clearly a substantial number of people are getting away with paying a small amount of their bail and there is no subsequent follow-up. In the Dublin Circuit and Central Court, no order for forfeiture or estreatment of bail money has been made in the five years from 1997 to 2001, although 1,321 bench warrants were issued during the same period for non-appearance in those courts. Those alarming figures would suggest that crime pays.

The Deputy's figures may be very interesting but they have nothing to do with the Bill. Clearly he is just filibustering.

The issue of private security is most important.

How much longer is this to continue?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

Deputy Perry has four minutes remaining.

We are discussing security matters. The issue of people absconding bail is very relevant.

The Deputy should stop wasting time and allow the Bill to proceed.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

I ask the Minister of State to allow Deputy Perry to proceed without interruption.

He is merely filibustering.

It is not a filibuster. The fact that bench warrants are not being executed by the Garda is a serious issue. The Bill has sat on the Minister of State's desk for five years.

The Deputy is wasting time. The sooner he stops talking, the sooner the Bill will get on the Statute Book.

I have been allocated time to speak and I am availing of the privilege. I will take the time allotted to me, regardless of the Minister of State, and I will not tolerate his interjections which are totally out of order. My point is that people go into court and get off scot free, without any follow-up by the Garda. People have to invest in their own security to protect their businesses because the State is not providing it. People walk into court, claim they have no money to pay their bail and then abscond. The business community is investing €700 million in private security, in addition to which they pay taxes. The Minister of State should be aware of the factual situation. I speak from some experience having come up through the business sector. There is very little compensation for the risks one has to take in business. Private security is operating without any Government involvement. Business sectors such as the hotels federation, the vintners' federation or RGDATA have a vested interest in their own businesses and have to invest heavily to safeguard them. There is no tax write-off on investment in private security, despite expenditure of thousands of euro in security cameras and other equipment to protect their businesses. People are also at risk when keeping cash in their homes overnight.

It is in that overall context I have referred to the situation whereby people can get away with serious crime because of the lack of follow-up on bench warrants. The Garda Síochána should follow up on court judgments and orders in the matter of bail. Those who commit crime should pay the bill. If the Minister of State thinks there are no parallels with private security issues in this regard, then why did the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform introduce the Bill in the first instance? This Bill is long overdue and I fully endorse the need for regulation. I reiterate the need for security personnel to carry proper identification, including an ID number or seal of office. That area has been totally unregulated up to now, apart from self-regulation by business people who have invested heavily in that regard.

I am somewhat dismayed that the Minister takes exception to the fact that thousands of bench warrants have not been acted upon. I will raise this matter on the Order of Business. I wonder if the Minister, Deputy O'Dea, will refer to it in his column in the Sunday Independent.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I take this opportunity to speak on the Private Security Services Bill, which I hope will conclude today since we have much legislation on our programme. I look forward to this Bill going to Committee Stage. Speaker after speaker stressed its importance. The only way we can complete it is by getting it to Committee Stage, dealing with the amendments there and completing its passage through the House.

This is an important Bill in so far as it deals with everyone from alarm fitters to private investigators. Like many other speakers, the matter on which I would particularly like to focus is the positive impact it could have on door security. We have all witnessed an expansion of this whole industry over the years, including the night life industry. That has brought with it a number of problems due to the fact that in some cases there is no training. There is wide variation in the content of training and, indeed, there are certainly discrepancies in the conduct of security staff across firms and premises. This Bill will help to regulate the whole area and address the growing disquiet and public concern that exists about the need for effective control and regulation of security services.

The Bill is based on the proposals in the report on the private security sector on establishing the Private Security Authority. It gives a clear direction and sufficient flexibility to respond to all future developments. The independent agency will have two main functions, to regulate and to act as a fair and impartial complaints mechanism. That is in everybody's interest, including the reputable private security firm, which feels that the reputation of the industry as a whole is being tarnished by a few unsavoury elements, and businesses, as Deputy Perry said, which employ personnel to safeguard both their premises and their patrons. They need to be assured of the professionalism of security companies. It is also in the interest of the patrons of licensed premises who come into contact with doormen.

We are all aware of people who have had some run-in with bouncers on a night out, or at least witnessed such an incident. In most cases it simply means somebody is refused entry to a premises. It might have to do with the standard of dress or the level of intoxication, or it might just mean a harsh word or some minor altercation. However, there have been very serious incidents which have resulted, unfortunately, in injury or death. In the past year we saw one such incident in Dún Laoghaire where, when a row broke out outside the door of a premises at night, the Garda was called and two gardaí were very seriously injured. This is the type of thing we want to avoid and we believe that this legislation can help towards that.

Being a doorman is not an easy job. Doormen work in an environment where they must face difficult circumstances. They deal with people who are unruly and intoxicated on a nightly basis. They have to make split-second decisions as to whether a potential patron would cause trouble inside or would cause discomfort for other customers. It is incredible that these people receive no training, for the most part, to equip them to carry out their duties responsibly and deal with such tense situations without resorting to violence. I welcome the fact that the report highlights the need for the completion of a comprehensive standard training programme to be mandatory for licence approval of security personnel. Such training would be set by the authority and would need to be implemented as quickly as possible.

There are a number of elements to that training. The doorman should be trained in how to deal with emergencies such as fire – we can all recall the terrible events which have happened in that regard. What are the rights and responsibilities under legislation such as the Equal Status Act or the liquor licensing laws where there has been a serious injury on the premises? These people should be trained in drug awareness and first aid and to defuse situations without recourse to violence. This not only would enable the doorman to be assured of his position but would also be a major reassurance for patrons.

The right of recourse to the authority of anyone who feels that a security person has abused his or her authority is central to the Bill. It will uphold the reputation of the industry as a whole. The conditions must be put in place for this right to be substantiated. A number of speakers have mentioned the need for ease of identification and objective evidence. There is no doubt that if you are making a complaint it is not good enough to say "the big fellow standing outside the door of the night club". All those standing outside the doors of night clubs are big fellows and some form of identification is needed. I hope that this recommendation will be taken up. Obviously some objective evidence is needed. It would not be enough to have the doorman versus the complainant. There would need to be CCTV. It would be in the interests of many premises, particularly late night ones, to install CCTV. That would be a deterrent for everyone and would lead to better behaviour all round.

Young people particularly need to know that they can rely on a well-trained security service to facilitate them having a safe and good night out. To ensure that there is another end of the equation, a sense of responsibility among young people is needed. The level of intoxication among young people is of serious concern to all of us, as is the level of binge drinking and the number of people who go out with the sole purpose of spending their money to get drunk. The Minister for Health and Children launched a campaign last week called Think Before You Drink. It advises young people about the hazards of binge drinking. There is no doubt that large numbers of young people are putting themselves in very vulnerable and potentially violent situations. It is linked to the whole public order issue but also to this Bill. If someone who is binge drinking tries to gain access to premises, doormen have to make decisions on what to do with him or her. This can lead to altercations outside the door.

All these matters should be seen as part of the overall picture. The Minister is trying to make progress on alcohol policies. This concerns the policies adopted by the governing authorities of third level institutions, which I welcome. The Government is trying to tackle this issue as a justice, education and health issue. We must all be aware of it in the wider society also.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill. This authority, when constituted – I hope the Opposition facilitates its passage through Second Stage today – will address the issues of training, visible identification and objective evidence as a matter of priority. It will ensure that the regulatory provisions achieve their full potential to protect not just the people working in the industry but businesses and young people who avail of their services.

I am delighted to have the opportunity of contributing to the Second Stage debate of the Private Security Services Bill, 2001. Like my friend, the Minister of State, I was surprised the last speaker for the Opposition appeared to be reading from an explanatory memorandum. He referred to items which appeared prima facie to be completely outside the ambit of the Bill. This is a very important Bill. We should try to finish Second Stage as soon as possible and move on to Committee Stage. I believe that this Bill can be somewhat amplified and improved on the Committee Stage.

We all recognise that the Bill lays the legal foundation for a private security industry in Ireland. That is very welcome and overdue. The average punter's ideas of a private detective range from Marlow through to Hercule Poirot, detectives with white macs, ill-trained security guards and big, heavy bouncers outside discos. There is no reason the private security industry should not represent itself or be of the same standard as any other industry. It should not be over-regulated, but it should be regulated. It should be licensed and there should be certain standards and training. There should be accountability and a professional body, as in any other industry. I do not think genuine security service providers will have any difficulty with this Bill. They have nothing to fear from licensing or regulation of the industry and will, by and large, welcome this legislation.

There are several pivotal sections in the Bill. While I do not need to go over them in great detail, I will underline some of them. The definition of a "security service" is very wide and includes door supervisors, private investigators and security consultants. Perhaps the Minister will note that the definitions section does not seem to include the monitoring of alarms. As I understand it, certain companies are involved only with the monitoring of alarms by telephone or the Internet. If the Minister and the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel believe such companies are not included in the Bill, perhaps an amendment will be necessary.

The Private Security Authority, to be established under the Bill, has a standard structure. Its power to control and supervise the industry is very important. It will be charged with developing a strategic plan for each three year period and will have the power to inspect and investigate the industry. Security service providers will have to apply to it for a licence as a consequence of the Bill, the key to which is that anyone operating in the industry will have to possess a licence. This provision will ensure the unwanted elements in the industry, including gougers, ruffians and those who do not pay their employees the correct amount of money, cannot stay in it. The authority will enforce the licensing provisions and have the power to investigate any breaches. It will also publish a register of those licensees who have been issued with identity cards. Everyone will be able to find out if a given firm has been registered.

The Minister of State, Deputy Hanafin, mentioned the issue of complaints against licensees. In that context, I want to discuss the topic of privacy, which may be seen as the other side of the security industry. I do not think privacy is specifically mentioned in the Bill as a ground for a complaint, but I am sure the Minister of State will agree that it is important we bear it in mind. If certain security companies cross the boundary from mere surveillance to interfering with people's privacy, those whose privacy has been compromised should be able to use it as a specific ground for complaint under this legislation. Perhaps we can return to this matter on Committee Stage.

I welcome the Bill, which will do a great deal for the security industry and society. Unfortunately, security is necessary in its various shapes and forms, including house alarms, bouncers, CCTV systems and airport security. I would like to stress, however, that we need to be wary of certain developments as regards privacy and the rights of the individual. People have a right to their privacy and to exist peacefully without intrusion. I was a little alarmed when I read a report in The Irish Times this morning stating detailed personal data will be retained for up to four years for security purposes under a new Bill to be brought forward by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

There is a dangerous Minister in that Department.

I have doubts about such a move, although I would like to see it. I have no problem with the storage of data by security agencies, but there is huge scope for abuse of such data.

Hear, hear.

There may be huge inconvenience to the public. If terrorists or criminals come into possession of details of storage procedures, they will steal computers or mobile telephones and thereby bypass the system. I appeal to the Minister of State, Deputy O'Dea, to keep the issue of privacy in focus as the other side of the security industry. I am also alarmed by recent developments in the United States where the new department of homeland security is considering keeping a computer file for every individual in the country.

They are doing it here too.

It will involve some 280 million files. Law abiding citizens have nothing to fear from properly regulated security.

Did Deputy O'Dea hear that?

Did big brother Deputy McDowell hear it?

We have nothing to fear if information is properly used.

He is a big brother with a big stick.

We know that people can hack into centrally stored information, unfortunately, and that it can be abused.

It can be bought and sold.

Deputy Mulcahy will have to say that to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Perhaps I am guilty of committing the same sin as the last Opposition speaker, as I have strayed from my point somewhat. Members of the House will agree that the issue of privacy is important in relation to the regulation of the security industry. Any intrusion on personal privacy should be a specific matter for complaint under the Bill.

What is privacy? How would the Deputy define it?

I can send Deputy Bruton a dictionary, if necessary.

I am asking how the Deputy would define it in the context of his speech. I understand the English language, just as the Deputy does.

I was wondering about that.

The Deputy should not wonder about it.

I was wondering about it.

I also understand the word "smartass".

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

Deputy Bruton should not use such a term.

I am asking a serious question.

I think Deputy Bruton is the second leader of a party to use a word like that in this House, but that is his style of oratory.

How would the Deputy define it?

This is an excellent Bill. It is the first Bill to try to set down a regulatory framework for the private security industry. It is not all-inclusive.

I would like to stress to the Minister that the issue of training needs to be addressed, as I notice that it is not specifically mentioned in the Bill. It may appear in the Private Security Authority's three year strategic plan. The issue of remuneration of employees in the security industry needs to be addressed, as it is possible that some security firms have attempted to employ people at low wage rates. Workers are entitled to be properly trained and well remunerated. An amendment to the Bill could be introduced on Committee Stage to address these issues, although it may be necessary to introduce a further Bill.

I inform the Minister and the Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform that I very much welcome the Bill. I hope it passes Second Stage today. I look forward to contributing to the debate on Committee Stage.

I am glad that this Bill has finally arrived in the House. I have to give credit to Deputy John Bruton's fellow Meath man, the former Deputy John Farrelly, who brought this Bill to the House on many occasions.

Hear, hear.

That is right.

It was rejected by the Government. If it had been accepted and passed, many people who have been seriously injured may not have suffered.

That is right.

We are familiar with the type of people who are sometimes found to be working in the security industry. They think they are protected by the peace process and that they can still beat people in public and get away with it. This issue has to be dealt with quickly. The Minister of State, Deputy Hanafin, spoke about the Minister for Health and Children's programme to encourage young people to think before they go on binges. The last Government has to answer to society in relation to its changes in the licensing laws during the last Dáil, as it will be judged on that decision. There should be a review of the licensing laws.

We are having a review.

The Minister of State should allow me to finish my point before he answers me. There should be a proper review to determine the numbers who have been injured, murdered or hospitalised and the effects on society of the new licensing laws which allow pubs to stay open until 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. It is outrageous – the worst legislation that has ever been passed. It has been proven that thousands of people are coming out onto the streets at the same time at night. It is time this legislation was re-examined. We must make difficult decisions in the House. There is no other vested interest with as much power as the Licensed Vintners' Association – with the exception of the IFA – but it must be taken on whether we like it or not because society is breaking down. Drinking has got out of hand and the Bill must be considered in the light of this.

It is time this Bill was introduced because we must regulate the people in this profession. When certain people put a uniform on – a white coat or a jacket from a hotel – power goes to their heads. It is not drink that goes to their heads but power.

I presume we are talking about the Minister, Deputy McDowell. He is power hungry.

A person like this thinks that when people come in to a pub or a disco and look at him the wrong way he can beat them up and that he is protected by this uniform. It is time something was done about these people. They should do a course or be trained in how to handle people. They should receive training in the law and they should have to apply for a licence every few years. Members of the Garda Síochána must regularly do a two-year course and receive training in the law.

On "Prime Time" recently we saw what a certain nightclub bouncer did to a young person coming in to the club. That is what has pushed this Bill on. I welcome that because legislation and regulation are essential in this area. We have to know who is working in private security and they must be monitored on a week-by-week basis. They must also be checked out by the Garda. There is no law, nothing to stop a person who may have just come out of jail after committing a serious crime – he may have served ten years for murdering somebody – putting on a uniform and standing outside the biggest hotel or disco in the country. These people feel they are protected by law because of the uniform. Something must be done about this.

People in the private sector are feeling the pinch at the moment. I was on a radio programme last Saturday about issues relating to my own county. We talked about its three major towns. There are three local newspapers and I do not write for any of them. I wish I could, but I do not. For the last six months the local papers have been reporting one serious assault after another. All these are taking place outside discos and nightclubs late at night. The editorials are beginning to ask what has gone wrong in relation to law and order. I must ask the Minister that question: what has gone wrong?

The Garda says it does not have the resources to deal with these people late at night and the numbers in the Garda are dwindling, when one considers the numbers off sick or who have injured themselves or been assaulted. We must give them the resources and the powers they need. The gardaí are the only ones who should be responsible for security in this State. We must regulate private security, but if we had public security we would not need as much of it. As I said, most of these serious incidents are taking place late at night. The business community feels that it must put more resources into its own security because the State is not able to protect it. Yet businesses are taxed and regulated and must pay money to the local authority.

If a person started a business tomorrow morning, the first thing he would get in the door would be from the Revenue Commissioners giving a reference number. Then the health inspector would come in, followed by the area inspector and the dog licence inspector. People even come looking for money now. This is the most over-regulated state in the whole of Europe and I want Deputy John Bruton to take this up in Europe. I am sick and tired of the way we are being regulated on a day-to-day basis. Deputy Bruton is the only one fit to do that. We have people out there who have done nothing.

I get regular advice from across the way – advice for reward.

I have full confidence in the Deputy.

The business sector feels that it is over-regulated by the State and is not getting the protection it deserves. It says that crime costs businesses €775 million per year. They feel that even if they provide their own security they do not get the tax write-offs they deserve. They get no support from the State. This is something that should be considered on Committee Stage. Perhaps in the forthcoming budget something could be done for these people who must provide their own security, provided they go through the law and register their security people. They should be rewarded for this while the State does not provide security for them.

We have waited for this Bill for a long time and it should be serious and succeed in its aims. We should regulate the people in this industry because it has been the subject of much criticism from the general public. Young people in particular might go to a nightclub and have a drink or two, maybe for somebody's eighteenth or twenty-first birthday, and somebody might take a dislike to them and feel that because he is standing at a door wearing a uniform he can attack these people. People must be protected. Security staff must be trained and licensed. They must not be allowed to beat up whomever they want and think that the law is with them. More resources will have to be put into fighting crime.

Deputy O'Dea is the junior Minister in that Department. Every day people complain to me that crime figures are rising. Listening to the radio it seems that someone is murdered in this city every hour on the hour. This is not good enough.

Another Minister once sat where Deputy O'Dea is sitting and I remember the Deputy making a vicious attack on her. That was former Deputy Nora Owen. Deputy O'Dea and Deputy O'Donoghue blamed her for everything. Deputy O'Donoghue is the man who advocated zero tolerance. He is the Minister who, last year, did everything he could to stop refugees coming into the country but now, as Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, is using them as tourism statistics. There has been a great change in a year. That is the kind of hypocritical Government we have. That is the man who lectured us on zero tolerance. I used to see him getting up to address the House and I would say to my colleague that this man was taking matters so seriously if he did not stop he would have a heart attack or a stroke. What happened when he went over to the other side of the House and was made Minister? Crime rates rose, the number of assaults rose and the number of murders rose. This was the man who was to solve every law and order problem. He got his chance and he failed.

He has gone for rest and recreation.

The Deputy has said it. I compliment the Taoiseach on realising that he had failed. The Government knows he failed and the country knows it. He has got his reward and has gone for rest and recreation, as Deputy Bruton said. It is the fun and frolics Department and he is certainly having fun. He is down in my own constituency today. Deputy Bruton was responsible for the leisure centre and the Custom House Studios in Westport. The Minister is officially opening the Custom House Studios today and he will be telling people about all the projects that are gone: the main road from Westport to Castlebar is gone, the school in Newport is gone and he is down there opening something we set up. We were only there for two and a half years. The people do not know what they missed by not giving us another turn.

Hear, hear.

We would have had this country up and running. We left it in good shape and the Government did a super job on it – it destroyed it.

The Fine Gael Government was the worst ever.

Deputy Cassidy knows it too.

The figures do not lie.

The Deputy knows about the school in Castlepollard. He knows about the school he announced before the election, which is still not on the way.

Only for me there would be no school. Deputy Ring's party wanted to close it.

We will not talk about that, however. We will not talk about the school in Castlepollard. I thought it would have appeared on the day of the election.

The Deputy's Government was the worst ever.

Deputy Cassidy was in the band business – he would know the song "Money, Money, Money".

If I had had Deputy Ring on my books I would have made money.

The group Abba used to sing it. I will give the Deputy the money for the school because I know he is embarrassed about it. It does not matter because we will be back soon and we will deliver the school.

I will manage the Deputy. I would make a great deal of money.

If I am looking for a manager, the Deputy and former Deputy Reynolds will be available because they will not be in the House.

I want this Bill to work. The people in this industry must be regulated. This State has paid a high price to people in certain organisations and many people have suffered as a result of their actions. These people must be monitored and dealt with. We must scrutinise their connections to the IRA. The public should not be intimidated. Those in the industry must be licensed, checked by the Garda and monitored regularly. There is no point establishing an authority if we do not give it the necessary resources.

The incidence of crime has increased. Some people are afraid to go to bed at night and others do not get up until it is bright in the morning. People are afraid they will be attacked during the night. That is a sad reflection on society. We want law and order and the resources to enforce it. The Garda must be given proper resources. When Nora Owen as Minister gave them the resources to implement the CAB it became the most successful legislation in the history of the State. Give the Garda the resources. I have full confidence that it can do the job and we will not have to depend on private security firms.

The Garda has done a good job since the foundation of the State. I am glad Deputy Bruton knows my people were there from the beginning. They helped to set up the State and the Garda Síochána.

They made the supreme sacrifice.

Exactly. If they had been in Fianna Fáil, there would be plaques all over the country. Thanks be to God we stood by the Free State. We helped to set up this State and we do not want plaques, we want a tradition of law and order.

What a shower of craw thumpers.

The Deputy should be careful. We were there and we did not get the IRA pension for being members of Fianna Fáil. We were the real people. I am a law and order supporter, and Fine Gael is a party that supports law and order. We want the forces of law and order to get the proper resources. If that is done, Bills like this will be unnecessary.

I wholeheartedly welcome this Bill. It is badly needed. I distance myself from the remarks made by Deputy Ring about the Minister, Deputy O'Donoghue. His record speaks for itself.

It certainly does. It is a zero record.

He was the worst Minister ever.

As a former Leader of Seanad Éireann—

The Deputy should take a bow, he was a great Leader.

—I know how much legislation he put through the Oireachtas in the first two years of the last Government. He did a first class job. He showed that we were serious about law and order.

Is that why crime has risen?

The Opposition cannot make such allegations. The figures spoke for themselves when they were in Government.

I have a great deal of experience in late night activity. It is difficult to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Deputy Ring knows this because his county is a centre of entertainment. I can see he was taught to rehearse before he ever entered this Chamber. All good establishments check with the Garda Síochána on the stewards they employ.

How does the Deputy know that?

I know because I am in the industry.

Did the Deputy read about the court case in my town? I will send the mother of that child to him.

Any venue seeking an extension should give an undertaking that every inch of the premises will be under video surveillance from start to finish. The coloured German system with 48 channels is most suitable for this. Every channel is necessary to cover the entire 7,000 square feet of a venue. If that is done, everyone, the patrons, the stewards and those involved in running the function, will bear in mind their responsibilities and will behave in a proper manner. A great deal of responsibility is involved in running the clubs frequented by our sons and daughters. If they are run properly, they are successful. Young boys and girls going out to enjoy themselves want to go to places where they will have the freedom to socialise in a secure environment. That is a simple proposal. If anything unfortunate happens in the course of the evening, the tape recording what happened can be given to the Garda. Like figures at election time, the tape does not lie.

I do not want to take up too much time. Many people have contributed on this debate and some have completely gone off the rails to make it political. Video surveillance would cover almost all staff and patron behaviour. Any establishment that videos every square foot of the premises during an event will have low rates of anti-social behaviour. This is an efficient way of monitoring an entire venue. It prevents the arrival of unknown people from other towns who might want to tempt young boys and girls to try drugs.

I commend the Minister for introducing this Bill and look forward to its safe passage.

I welcome this Bill. My former constituency colleague, John Farrelly, has for a long time campaigned for legislation along these lines. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform who refused to take Deputy Farrelly's Bill on board was a Deputy who had previously promoted Private Members' Bills in Opposition and demanded they be accepted as a basis for further work. In one case he was successful but as Minister he was unwilling to accept a Private Members' Bill introduced by Deputy Farrelly. That showed a lack of vision and generosity, which is regrettable. I am sorry John Farrelly is not present to see the broad welcome for the legislation which he did so much to bring about. If he has not already done so, I hope the Minister will pay a well deserved tribute to former Deputy Farrelly for his persistence in the matter.

As many Members know, I am particularly concerned about a certain type of private security service that is increasingly being provided by the armed wing of one of the political parties represented in the House. I refer here to the provisional republican movement; the IRA, which is part of Sinn Féin. The two are indistinguishable and have one common aim. I was horrified to read about cases where so-called "punishments" were administered by that organisation in this State. These attacks involved the use of iron bars to break people's legs. The aim such attacks is to punish people in the most painful and terrifying way in order to create an example. There are those who may think these punishments are minor matters, but people have been crippled; in psychological and physical terms, for life.

It is appalling that there is a political party in the House which is still associated with an organisation – the Provisional IRA – that is willing to provide a private security service in parts of this island. I know this is not a matter which in any way meets with the approval of the Minister or any Member of the House. I have no doubt Sinn Féin, if it so desires and if it seems politic to do so, will also condemn such activity. The reality is, however, that this indivisible republican movement is engaged in providing the type of service to which I refer and, of course, the IRA will not apply for a licence under the legislation.

The only way this type of activity will be brought to an end will be if it is submitted to the same degree of searching exposure to which other activities are being subjected through the tribunals of inquiry. There is no doubt that, in recent years, the tribunals of inquiry into the funding of other political parties – including the activities of such parties while in office – particularly in terms of the way they have gone about their work, have ensured that democratic constitutional politics is being cleaned up in a most rigorous fashion. If it is justifiable to have a tribunal of inquiry into the funding of certain elected politicians because it might be suggested that the methods used to provide such funding may have interfered, in a corrupt way, with their work, it is also entirely justifiable to have a tribunal of inquiry investigate links between other political parties and secret unaccountable armed organisations.

I cannot see why the association of one political party with an armed organisation is not just as much a corruption of politics as, for example, the way in which another political party raises its funds. We must ensure uniform standards are applied in regard to corruption. There are many forms of corruption, including financial corruption, but there is also the corruption caused by the threat of physical violence. On balance, the corruption caused by the threat of physical violence is even worse than that caused by the raising of illicit funds either for personal political or party political purposes.

I will now deal with the legislation, because I am concerned about its vagueness. The criteria upon which the private security authority will decide whether to issue licences are not contained in the Bill. If we are giving a power to any authority to prevent an individual or company from doing a business, the criteria under which that power should be used should be set out in the principal legislation and not left to be subsequently provided for by way of regulation. I draw the attention of the House to section 40(2)(d), which provides that the authority, with the consent of the Minister, may set down the qualifications for licences or particular categories of licences, including any training requirements, and the assessment of those qualifications for people providing security services. I submit that those criteria should be included in the Bill, they should not be something to be done afterwards by means of delegated legislation.

The House should lay down the principles upon which power should be exercised. The Bill contains a great deal of information regarding powers, but no detail about the criteria by which these powers are to be exercised. The parliamentary counsel – this legislation is not unique in this regard – is falling into the trap of being more concerned with process than purpose. The purpose of the legislation should be clear, which is not the case in this instance. The process whereby the powers are to be exercised is set out in inordinate detail, presumably in order to ensure these powers cannot be challenged. However, the purpose of these powers and the criteria under which they should be exercised are buried in a subparagraph in the second last section of the Bill. That is not the way legislation should be drafted. I am pleased the Minister of State is present because he is lawyer who is well qualified in these matters. If he reflects on the issue I have raised, he will agree that it is not satisfactory to have legislation in respect of which the criteria are not delineated in the principal legislation. It is an abuse of the Oireachtas to present it with a request to approve a whole range of powers without indicating what will be the criteria under which such powers will be exercised. The Bill is silent on that matter.

I will now deal in greater detail with the areas the authority will regulate. The authority will be responsible for regulating and licensing people to provide services as private investigators, doorkeepers, installers of locks and security consultants. It will be an offence for a person providing such services not to have a licence. These terms are defined. For example, a private investigator is defined as someone who obtains or furnishes information in relation to the personal character, actions or occupation of a person. Everyone does that from time to time. We will all be asked on occasion to recommend such a person. All Deputies are asked from time to time to make inquiries about particular matters.

It is not clear that the requirement to seek a licence is confined to those who provide these services on a full-time basis. It appears the legislation can apply to anyone who provides these services, whether part-time or otherwise. It is not clear that the services must be provided for a reward in order for them to be deemed licensable. From what I have read, there is no reference to the provision of services having to be for a reward. Despite all the detail and the 40 sections contained in the Bill, there is a considerable element of vagueness in terms of on whom the legislation imposes an obligation to seek a licence.

I also have doubts about the provision relating to security consultants. Anybody who advises on methods of protecting property, including information in non-legible form, from vandalism, intrusion, trespass, theft, damage or interference, would have to seek a licence. It is normal that anybody who installs a computer system provides elementary advice on how to secure that system from intrusion. Are such persons to be required to seek a licence under this legislation? The Minister of State suggests that is not the case and I accept that it is not the intention of the legislation. However, the Minister of State should explain in his reply how such persons are excluded. They are not listed in the exemptions in section 3, whether part-timers or those providing other services to which security services are a necessary ancillary. There should be a provision to exclude such people.

The focus should be on those aspects of security where there is a risk of abuse of power or force. The extension of the requirement for involvement in a licensing process to include those who simply monitor security equipment is going further than necessary with regard to the purpose of the legislation, which is to prevent the abuse of power. However, as the criteria are not set out in the Bill it is impossible to know the statutory intent as distinct from the Minister's political intent, which is irrelevant with regard to the interpretation of the legislation before the courts.

I assume the strategic plan required in section 9 is a standard demand in all legislation. However, if we are asked to enact legislation of this kind by the Minister, he should set out the strategic plan in the Bill or in his speech. It should not be delegated to an authority to produce the plan. The strategy which this entity is to fulfil is something that should be set for it by its political masters. It should not set its own strategy and I would have expected the Minister to do that.

In section 14, the authority is given extensive powers to enter premises at reasonable times to inspect books and that sort of thing. That is par for the course but the fact that it has such extensive powers indicates why the Bill is so deficient in that it does not set out the criteria for the fulfilment of which such powers are exercisable. I am disappointed by that omission.

I worry about such legislation from another perspective. When an industry is regulated by the State, licences begin to acquire a monetary value, the industry becomes a restrictive practice and becomes more expensive than previously. The best example of that is the so-called licensed trade. It is well known from the service it provides that it is licensed to sell alcoholic drinks. Those licences were initially introduced in the interests of public order and for good motives similar to those the Minister has with regard to this legislation. However, licences have allowed for restrictive practices where some people who happen to have acquired a licence from the State, for a particular area at a particular time, have been able to prevent others entering into competition against them where that could damage their profits. The licensing system in the matter of intoxicating liquor has become a method of allowing excessive profits in certain areas, although there are areas where excessive profits are not made. I doubt that excessive profits are made by many publicans in Roscommon town or in some other rural areas. In the Minister's city of Limerick and my area, however, I have no doubt that the licensing system operates to protect existing providers against competition.

I am interested to know if consideration has been given to ensuring that this legislation is not used to that end and we do not have a situation – I cannot recall the precise economic term – where excessive profits are allowed by virtue of a system of State regulation. I do not suggest that the Bill should not proceed because that fear exists but there should be a provision whereby the Competition Authority would regularly oversee the activities of the private security authority and of all other licensing authorities as a matter of course. In all cases where there are licensing restrictions, the licensing authority should have to justify those restrictions every five years to an independent entity such as the Competition Authority. That would demonstrate that there is no question of excessive profits being made. An amendment to the legislation to that effect will enhance the legislation considerably and reduce the fears I have expressed.

I welcome the legislation. I pay tribute to my colleague, former Deputy John Farrelly, for his contribution to bringing this about. I regret, however, the vagueness of the legislation with regard to the criteria to be used in the exercise of its very extensive powers. The Minister, in introducing future legislation of this nature in different areas, should ensure that the criteria for the exercise of powers are set out more fully than is the case with this Bill.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill which provides for the establishment of a body known as the private security authority to control and supervise individuals and firms providing private security services, to investigate and adjudicate on any complaints against them, and for the establishment of the private security appeals board to hear and determine appeals against decisions of that authority. That is a laudable objective and it is clear we have paid a heavy price for the absence of legislation up to this. A vetting procedure is necessary to change that and to vet those working in the industry.

If laws and regulations existed, there would be some chance of better operations. Anybody can work in this industry because no proper qualifications are required. As in every industry, there are unsuitable people, but that is a particular problem due to the total lack of regulation in the security industry, particularly in the context of night security. There are unsuitable people involved who contribute to the bad name of the security industry. This must be changed and that is why I welcome this Bill.

About 11,000 people work in the industry which is a large number. Regulation is required and Ireland is one of few countries where there is none; only three other countries in Europe do not have controlling legislation in this area. Many of the problems that land at the door of the security industry are caused by the serious alcohol problem in Ireland. As a GP, the Ceann Comhairle will know as well as anyone that people endure many problems because of alcohol. One in four people that attend a hospital casualty department does so because of alcohol, and that rises to every second person after 6 p.m. I worked in a casualty department and can vouch for the prevalence of alcohol-related patients. The levels of drunkenness were such that one would not have to use anaesthetic on many patients admitted after a fight. The saddest thing is the number of young people involved.

Work is created for the security industry because so many people are suffering from the effects of alcohol. The number of serious assaults points to the need for action in this area. I am aware that the industry has attempted self-regulation and has done quite well. There are good people in every industry but there are also individuals that are not interested in regulation. The absence of legislation is the cause of the problems. The report of the consultative group on the private security industry concluded that further scope for voluntary regulation had been exhausted and that the time was right to establish the Irish security authority to manage a comprehensive licensing system. This is an industry that needs to be controlled because of the serious potential for physical violence arising from the abuse of alcohol and the confrontational nature of the job. Everyone has witnessed aggressive doormen in action and it has, on occasion, resulted in serious assaults.

The Bill has come about after much consultation with the industry. The annual turnover of the industry is approximately €250 million and it is prone to people who are interested in making money quickly. Access to the industry is of paramount importance. Fundamental matters that must be addressed by the Bill include issuing licences to people and companies, the registration of licence holders, setting out required training standards and devising suitable training courses. It is important that those who receive licences are the best qualified to operate in the industry. I am aware of a Mayo security company that provides training. It has taken on a responsible role and has been successful. It is important that responsible, pro-active groups continue to have an input into monitoring the industry and that they are represented on the authority. There is a suggestion that the authority will consist of big businesses but the smaller companies and sole traders must be represented too.

Alcohol is the major drug of misuse although it is often not recognised as such. Although people often do not think of those who abuse alcohol as drug addicts, they should. Some people have infiltrated nightlife with the criminal intention of pushing drugs.

I support what Deputy Cassidy said about the use of CCTV. Anyone who watches programmes such as "Crimeline" will be aware of the use that can be made of these videotapes. The courts are increasingly using this footage as evidence. The presence of CCTV has driven criminals off the main streets in Dublin and the extension of such coverage is a good idea. The lack of video evidence can sometimes be telling. Even when someone is charged there can be a conflict of evidence that CCTV footage would go a long way towards settling. I have always been struck by the attempts of families looking for lost persons to access CCTV footage.

During this debate we have concentrated on nightclubs, because they are the most prominent, but the debate must be extended to factories, shops, the use of dogs, etc. Private security may take over where the State does not provide adequate security. There is a direct relationship between the consumption of alcohol and the increasing need for the security industry. The lack of Garda resources will result in the greater use of private security. It is sad to see security people vetting people on the doors of businesses in every town – it is an indictment of our society. There is need for regulation because of heavy-handed interference with people. Society has deteriorated and it is sad that we need such a high security system.

This Bill is to be welcomed because it will ensure, as far as possible, that people of good character are involved in this industry. It is important that those who deal with the public, particularly in this industry, are of good character. I hope this Bill will bring an end to the misuse of this industry by unscrupulous individuals, psychopaths and drug dealers.

This Bill is based on a Private Members' Bill, introduced as the Door Supervisors Bill by a former Deputy, Mr. John Farrelly, on 24 and 25 March 1998. On 24 March the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform gave a commitment that he would introduce legislation to provide for the regulation of the private security industry in general. Although this Bill was published in 2001 we have had to wait until now for it to come before the House.

Deputy Cowley spoke about the impact of alcohol on car accidents, particularly at weekends. I defy the Minister to provide information on the number of car accidents involving someone who has taken alcohol and the number of fatalities arising from that. Such information cannot be provided. I sought it from the Department on a number of occasions, but blood alcohol tests are carried out after a road traffic fatality at the discretion of the coroner in each area. We do not know if 30%, 40% or 50% of fatal accidents involve alcohol. I ask the Minister of State, Deputy O'Dea, to examine that issue. Perhaps we should consider amending the Coroners Act, because we need accurate figures.

I was talking to a person who works in the ambulance service last weekend and he informed me that the number of call outs for road traffic accidents has decreased from five per week to one per week since the penalty points system was introduced. The system is having a dramatic impact on road safety. I am sure the Minister of State will ensure that the additional resources the Garda Síochána badly needs to enforce the penalty points system will be provided next year.

I welcome the legislation, which is long overdue. A commitment was given in March 1998 that the legislation would be published and enacted. Former Deputy Farrelly must be commended for publishing legislation related to this area and for frequently pursuing this matter on the Order of Business. It is a pity John Farrelly is not a Member of the House and present to contribute to the debate the Bill. He was committed to ensuring that legislation would be enacted in this area.

The Bill seeks to regulate the activities of door supervisors or bouncers. It also deals with other issues relating to the private security industry. Some of the main difficulties with regard to bouncers are violent assaults, drugs and the black economy. We have all heard examples of such activities. Many security men have not been properly trained and they do not know how to handle incidents inside or outside nightclubs. Bouncers believe their sole purpose is to punish individuals who cause a disturbance in a nightclub rather than removing them from the premises. We have had numerous incidents where bouncers caused grievous bodily harm to individuals who were ejected from a premises.

It will soon be compulsory for nightclubs in certain areas of Cork to have closed circuit television cameras if they want to renew their licences. I hope that will happen in every nightclub throughout the country because a significant number of incidents, some of which involve door supervisors or bouncers, occur at the entrances to nightclubs. Employers should ensure that security cameras are put in place as they would protect bouncers and the premises. I hope the Minister of State examines the licensing laws with a view to introducing such a provision.

Many bouncers are in favour of this legislation. They are concerned about the issues related to this area and they want their profession and the industry properly regulated. The legislation will help provide improved public safety and it will give members of the public confidence about bouncers.

The Bill allows for complaints to be made and inquiries to be carried out. Section 36 states that any person may make a complaint in writing to the authority against a licensee in relation to the provision by the licensee of a security service. However, if one is assaulted by a bouncer when leaving a nightclub, how can one pursue that individual if one does not know him? One does not have any right to ask to see their identification. That issue must be addressed. It is a flaw in the legislation.

Section 27, which deals with identity cards, states that a member of the Garda Síochána, a member of the staff of the authority which issues the licence or a person for whom the licensee is providing a security service can seek identification. However, if a door supervisor, whom one would hope is properly licensed, assaults me outside a nightclub, I cannot seek identification. While I have the right to make a complaint about an assault or maltreatment by an individual, I am not entitled to see their identification. If I look for the identification number, name and station of a member of the Garda Síochána, he or she is legally obliged to provide them. The same should apply in this area. If we want investigations to take place and if we want the public to be confident about the regulation of door supervisors and bouncers, it is fundamentally important that people should be able to seek identification. This area has been neglected for many years.

We have all heard about assaults involving door supervisors which have happened in areas, including that represented by the Minister of State, throughout the country. Door supervisors often disappear off the face of the earth. Employers do not know where they have gone and they do not leave a forwarding address. Many of them leave the country if they have committed a criminal offence. I hope the legislation regulates this area.

Perhaps the Minister of State might clarify the type of offence a person commits if he or she employs an unlicensed door supervisor. I know there is a €1,500 fine for an unlicensed person who works in the industry. Unscrupulous employers may employ unlicensed supervisors for pubs and nightclubs. What sanctions, other than the non-renewal of licences – which could take 12 months – are imposed on such employers? We must address that issue.

We must seriously consider the introduction of compulsory identification to ensure the protection of door supervisors. There has been much debate about this issue and about individual rights. However, with the increasing abuse of underage drinking, we must introduce compulsory identification. There will be a greater obligation on door supervisors to provide a reason for someone being refused entry to a premises.

If someone is refused entry without being given a plausible explanation and wishes to take a complaint, he or she does not know who the complaint is being taken against because the individual involved does not have identification. I hope that issue can be addressed on Committee Stage.

I welcome the expansion of the legislation to include not only door supervisors but other elements of the security sector which have been outside regulation to date. Those elements include the installers of security equipment and security guards and there have been instances where unscrupulous individuals in this sector have facilitated robberies. Certain subversive elements have been involved in the industry as well. It is an ideal opportunity to get to know everything about a business under the guise of providing security advice and services. In reality all these people are doing is casing the joint in order to carry out a robbery at some later stage.

Section 3 of the Bill provides for exemptions to the legislation, which include references to the Garda and the Defence Forces, and section 3(1)(d) highlights the provisions in regard to airport police. Does this exemption apply to all airport police or just those employed by Aer Rianta? There is a different legal definition of airport police employed by the State authority and those employed by regional airports. The police at regional airports do not have the power to detain an individual which seriously restricts their ability to provide security. Now that we are investing millions of euro to improve security at regional airports, can the Minister of State clarify whether they are covered by this section's exemptions or will regulation be required?

The Bill provides a list of reasons for refusal by the authorities to grant or renew a licence, one of which is if a person is not a fit or proper person to provide a security service. That is pretty broad. I presume provision has been made for referral to the Garda to ensure that a person is of upstanding character, but does the authority have the right to be provided with the conviction record of a particular individual? Is it the case that the Garda will simply say whether or not the person is suitable? What sort of convictions are we talking about? Reference is made to convictions for involvement in an illegal organisation, but my concern relates to cases where people may not have convictions though complaints have been made about them regarding, for example, the use of Rohypnol. A prime example of that is a court case taking place in the west of Ireland, though the allegation there has not been made against a door supervisor. It was made against another member of staff. However, it could be the case in another nightclub that complaints are made consistently to the Garda about young girls waking in the morning unable to remember what happened the night before. Tests may be done and Rohypnol or a similar drug detected without a conviction due to lack of evidence. It is virtually impossible to get a conviction unless the person is discovered in the act of putting the drug into a drink. Surely, a question mark must hang over such a premises and I ask how that can be addressed in the licensing process.

Bouncers have a responsibility to ensure the security and integrity of a premises and to ensure that it is not being abused in relation to the use of Rohypnol or some other drug. If the Garda raids a club and a person is found to be in possession of or selling drugs, the licensee can be prosecuted, but what about the individuals who are providing security? How does this relate to a person who is not fit and proper to provide such a service? There must be a question mark over individuals when the events I have described happen on premises. Does the authority have the right to access and retain information regarding convictions? The Garda can describe a person as unfit if he or she has convictions. However, what is the scenario if the Garda has concerns but has not secured a conviction against an individual?

There are serious difficulties in relation to delays in getting Garda approval and clearance, especially in voluntary organisations. Is the Garda going to be provided with additional resources to ensure that it can deal with these matters swiftly? This means people are being allowed to work with children and will be issued with security licences on a temporary basis until clearance can be provided by the Garda. Naturally, there is going to be an immense bottleneck as soon as this Bill is enacted.

There are a number of questions to be asked in relation to approval and concerns about individuals who may not have been convicted for anything though the Garda has serious doubts about them. That state of affairs exists in the taxi industry in Dublin. There are people with convictions who should not be in possession of a taxi licence and I wish to know if that will be the case in the private security sector. I commend the Bill to the House.

I have looked forward to the opportunity to speak on this Bill for a long time.

It is a good thing Fine Gael only has 31 Deputies or we would be here for a lot longer.

The Bill was before the House for long enough as well as being long sought, and the Minister of State need not get obstreperous.

It would be a lot longer if the Deputies opposite had their way. This is a deliberate filibuster.

Deputy Durkan must be allowed to speak without interruption.

If the Minister of State wants inspiration for the Bill, he should go to his own city. He will find plenty of inspiration there.

It is a "filibluster".

Allow Deputy Durkan to speak.

On a point of order, I take offence at what the Minister of State has said. I raised serious concerns in relation to this Bill and I have a right to raise them. This is not filibustering, it is the raising of genuine concerns.

I am aware of the Minister of State's sensitivities in this area, particularly since this Bill has been sought by the Opposition for at least five years.

Members opposite have blocked it for the past month.

After many promises it took a long time to get it into House. Only after a Private Members' Bill was introduced by the Opposition did the Government consider it worthwhile. It still procrastinated further. I ask the Minister of State not to attempt to be sarcastic—

The Deputy is delaying it.

Will the Minister of State allow the Deputy to make his contribution.

If the Minister of State listened for a little while he might learn much. This Bill was mooted by a former Member, Mr. John Farrelly, who spent much time raising it on the Order of Business, bringing it to the attention of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Taoiseach to no avail. It fell on deaf ears. After all this time, suddenly the Minister of State is impatient, petulant and sarcastic. I recognise Ministers are given wide scope in their brief. When they go to Áras an Uachtaráin for their seals of office they probably presume they have wide-ranging powers but they should wait and listen with a little respect.

The necessity for this Bill is twofold. As my colleague, Deputy Naughten, has said it should not be seen as a licence to license the unlicensable. The Minister of State is rolling his eyes in a heavenly direction as if seeking inspiration.

The Deputy is filling in time.

Just in case the Minister of State thinks that is beyond the ambit of what might happen, there have been instances in this city during the past ten years involving bouncers in public places. Some of the most horrendous incidents involved death. In one particular case a young man was being ejected on the basis of drunkenness and disorderly behaviour. In evidence at the trial it was suggested by a security person that in the course of ejecting the person he or others became sexually aroused and the upshot of it was that the young man in question was raped. While that is just a single issue there have been countless other similar incidents. There was an incident in the city not many years ago, where a young man who saw two students being beaten by bouncers outside a premises intervened and was fatally injured. When I detect a certain impatience and petulance from the Government side I am not impressed. Of all the issues one could think of—

Deputies keep asking why legislation is not going through. The Deputy is delaying it deliberately.

Allow the Deputy to make his contribution.

The Minister of State and the Government sat on this for five years. If the Minister of State thinks he has the right to rush it through the House without debate he has another thing coming to him.

The Deputy has made his point about the Minister of State. If he did not attribute so many features to the Minister of State but concentrated on the Bill he might not provoke interruption.

He is filling in time. There is no excuse.

I apologise, a Cheann Comhairle. His rapidly changing facial expressions seem to drag me off on a wrong course.

I suggest the Deputy look at the Chair and not at the Minister of State.

I will take your cue from that. I wish to touch on a matter raised by Deputy Naughten and others and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in recent days. There is a notion abroad that every young person is a potential thug and for some unknown reason that somebody should beat them up and kick them around the place. If one treats people like that one gets violence. Violence begets violence. Heretofore, people who were unlicensed and had no authority to beat anybody seemed to think they had a licence to kill. The situation that has prevailed in recent years has been intolerable.

Yesterday the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform said there is a responsibility on the premises concerned in respect of drink being made freely available to persons, whether young, old or middle aged, who have had enough. There is also a responsibility on the nightclub or premises which charges a fee to persons of whatever age. After people have been fed drink and reject it, they are surplus to requirement and are thrown out on the street. A contract exists between the promoters and the consumer but nobody seems to think about it. Nobody thinks the unfortunate citizen has rights. The culture of recent years is that where a person becomes inebriated they should be unceremoniously ejected from the premises, despite having been granted the hospitality of the place. Those people have rights and are entitled to be treated as citizens, as human beings, with the potential to uphold the law. The premises or the promoter has a responsibility.

I do not want to say anything about cases pending, but I could and I would have quite an amount of information which is alarming in relation to some security firms. There are some security firms that run their business on a proper footing and have due regard for people's rights and entitlements and to the fact that they do not have a licence to carry on in an unlicensed manner. There are others who think the opposite and that the uniform of a particular type is sufficient guarantee to do whatever one has to do or can do. It has been noticeable that young men of small stature appear to be a great target for some of these attacks. It is well known in the business that most bullies will seldom pick on somebody their own size, they usually pick on a smaller person. It is easy to score in such situations or at least that is how they see it.

Certain things envisaged in the Bill have been thought about belatedly. I am not certain the Bill is capable of covering all these eventualities. In the course of the Minister of State's further consideration of the Bill I ask him to go through it carefully, line by line, in the knowledge that after it is enacted, certain credentials will be accorded to those in the security business. There are no problems with those who already observe and have due regard for the law, but there will be serious problems for those who abuse and ignore the law and ultimately there could be serious consequences for those who grant licences to those who breach the laws again.

I am sorry for allowing the Minister of State to upset me, although I assure you, a Cheann Comhairle, he did not upset me at all.

Are there many more Deputies left to be brought in the next day to keep the debate going?

The Minister of State would do well to concentrate on the text of the Bill and spend less time trying to be smart. If he runs short of business in his Department he can consider all the legislation that should have been introduced in the House over the past five years and was ignored. If that leaves the Minister of State short of inspiration he should look at all the unsolved crimes and the increase in crime generally on a daily basis. If he needs further inspiration he should come across to this side of the House and we will give it to him.

It will not take long to study the legislation introduced by former Deputy Owen.

I object to the snide remark from the Minister of State about somebody outside this House. He obviously has little to offer the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and he should withdraw that remark immediately.

Debate adjourned.