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Regulation alone is not enough to halt evictions – Ó Laoghaire

9 April, 2019 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that, while he welcomes a commitment from Minister Charlie Flanagan to regulate private security firms that are enforcing evictions, more must be done to prevent the flow of people into homelessness.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire was speaking today after reports the Minister Flanagan will seek permission from the Cabinet to proceed with plans requiring those involved in the enforcement of High Court enforcement actions, to be regulated.

The Cork South-Central TD said:

“Sinn Féin welcomes this move, but it seems to us that the Government is more concerned with how people are evicted than it is about the flow of people into homelessness given it voted down Sinn Féin’s Prevention of Homelessness Bill last week and it refuses to bring forward its own workable solutions.

“After the protests at Frederick St in 2018, Sinn Féin identified that there was clearly an issue in relation to the policing of such protests, and specifically, in relation to the lack of regulation of such Private Security firms.

“At the time, I contacted the Private Security Authority to complain about the conduct of those involved in that eviction and I was informed that they had no responsibility for that.

“After calling on the Minister to Act, we ourselves published the ‘Regulation of Private Security Firms Bill 2018’, due to the lack of action from the Minister.

“In the meantime, we had the disgraceful scenes from Strokestown, County Roscommon, which saw bank enforcers from a private security firm acting without repercussion and injuring citizens who they were sent to evict. They have behaved liked this because they are allowed to because they are not governed by any law.

“It is quite extraordinary that we expect door staff, and people who are doing security in shops in our high street to be subject to high standards of regulation yet bank enforcers, who are involved in most intrusive confrontational and potentially volatile areas of security such as evictions, aren’t subject to this regulation and licensing.

“I am glad that the Minister is now finally responding, after eight months, and I am looking forward to seeing the detail of the proposals.

“However, we need much more than this. Regulation may stop people with no vetting or background checks participating in evictions, but it will not prevent evictions. The government refuses to bring forward workable solutions to the housing crisis and votes against measures brought forward by the opposition such as the Focus Ireland amendment and the Prevention of Homelessness Bill.

“If the government really wants to stop homelessness escalating even beyond the current record numbers, there is a need for legislative change.” 

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