Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Hiring of Security Firm.

6.

asked the Minister for Defence if a private security firm has been employed to provide security for his Department's premises at Mobhí Road, Dublin 9; the total amount paid to private security firms (a) in respect of these premises and (b) other premises of his Department, during the past 12 months; the reason private security firms were used for this Department's buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

(Limerick West): The only location at which a private security firm is engaged by my Department is Colaiste Caoimhín, Mobhí Road, Dublin 9. The firm in question, which provides security services for the premises outside normal office hours, was selected following competitive tendering and, in accordance with normal practice, the contract fee is confidential.

The new arrangement, which is more economical, arose from the fact that for staffing reasons the former arrangement could not be continued satisfactorily.

It is an incredible admission by the Minister that part of his own Department is now being secured by outside contractors. Could the Minister advise the House about the previous arrangement, which he describes as unsatisfactory? How long have private security firms been employed for the purposes of defending the Army?

(Limerick West): It is not unusual to have a private firm engaged in the securing of offices. This is an office which houses the pay and pensions section of my Department. It has nothing to do with the Army. Since this firm has been in operation the saving had been approximately £80 per week.

The effect of the new arrangements is to deny allowances to members of the Defence Forces who might be employed in this type of security work, in view of the hours involved. Is this not another one of the many petty interferences and changes which the Minister has introduced with regard to allowances in order to cut back on soldiers' pay?

The Deputy is extending the scope of the question.

(Limerick West): I refute that. Soldiers have nothing to do with my office. It deals with the pay section of my Department. It would be wrong for Army personnel to be involved in the securing of this type of building.

Would the Minister confirm when replying to this loaded question, that since military escorts have been introduced for security reasons not a penny has been lost when accompanied by military escorts?

(Limerick West): That is right.

Does the Minister not see any contradiction in the fact that he provides members of the Defence Forces to protect the money and cash of private companies but will not use them to protect his own money and cash in Mobhí Road?

(Limerick West): The Deputy is contradicting himself. I do not see any contradiction.

That does not surprise me. The Minister should go back to his cow parlour.