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Mainstream Media report on Fash at Rossport by Scott Millar, from Irish Examiner print edition.
They constitute the largest security force in the country, outnumbering the gardaí and army combined, and were meant to be regulated in a manner that would ensure that criminals and paramilitaries were excluded from their ranks. However, in recent days, serious questions have emerged about who actually makes up Ireland’s over 20,000 plus army of private security guards.
In 2004, then Minister for Justice Micheal McDowell promised that new laws would bring Ireland into line with our European partners and provide adequate regulation of the private security industry.
However, three years after the establishment of the Private Security Authority (PSA) both members of the public and industry representatives are asking serious questions about the body’s performance.
These issues have been brought starkly to the fore by the death of 24-year-old Tipperary man Micheal Dwyer in a hotel room in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Of the country’s currently 22,037 licensed security guards, 10,011 have provided criminal record certificates from other jurisdictions. This includes 2,598 provided by Irish nationals. This document must be presented by those applying for a PSA licensed who have lived outside of Ireland for more than six months,. These documents are authenticated by the PSA and no further security checks are carried out on the individual’s activities while abroad.
A spokeswoman for Britain's Security Industry Authority said, in addition to the presentation of criminal record certificates, further checks are carried out in order to authenticate the information presented.
Among those who successfully applied for a PSA security guard licenses in 2008 was 32-year-old Tibor Revesz. In his home country of Romania, he is a well known member of the Szekler Legion, an openly fascist paramilitary group which trains with AK-47s and demands the “reunification” of Hungarian areas in Transylvania with Hungary.
It would seem that Tibor met Dwyer while the two worked as security guards for Integrated Risk Management Services (I-RMS), a Naas-based firm run by two former members of the army’s elite Rangers wing which carries out security for, among others, Shell Oil and Fianna Fáil.
I-RMS personnel’s treatment of protesters campaigning against the Shell’s development of the Corrib gas line in Mayo has led to numerous complaints to both the gardaí and the PSA.
Late last year, Rossport resident Monika Muller wrote to the gardaí, PSA and Department of Justice complaining about the heavy handedness of private security guards at the Shell sites and failure to wear or present their PSA licence numbers.
According to the Private Security Act 2004, Section 30: “An individual who is a member of a prescribed category of licensees shall, when providing a security service, wear an identity badge.” This section was signed into law in 2006.
The response Mrs Muller received from the Department of Justice confirmed that the security guards working at Glengad, Co Mayo, were licensed in accordance with the Act. However, the letter went on to claim that the need to wear badges by security guards was yet to implemented but the PSA was expected to put it into force by the “end of the year”.
Under the act there is no mention of “exemptions” operating in the implementation of any part of the legalisation. Private security men at the Shell sites still do not wear identification badges.
Worryingly, evidence has emerged that Revesz may not have been the only Szekler Legion member who has found employment in Ireland as a security guard.
On websites associated with the paramilitary group, patches commemorating various IRMS security operations — including the protection of the Solitaire pipe-laying vessel from anti-Shell protesters — are sold.
Bolivian investigators now believe that Tibor, along with suspected Hungarian war criminal Eduardo Roza Flores, led a group of more than 10 “foreign mercenaries” who travelled to Bolivian to train paramilitaries intent on toppling the country’s socialist government.
The Hungarian media have also reported that two other young men, Gábor Dudog and Gáspár Dániel, associated with the Szekler Legion are currently missing in Bolivia. According to reports in the Hungarian press, Mr Dudog worked in Ireland in the security business and spent 6 to 8 six to eight months in Bolivia, protecting deliveries for a major oil company.
Over recent weeks the Irish Examiner has repeatedly asked I-RMS representatives to comment on Mr Tibor’s employment and the possibility that other members of the Szekler Legion had worked at the Corrib sites.
The issue of why Dwyer was allowed to work as a security guard at the Corrib site although only licensed by the PSA to work as a doorman has also been raised.
I-RMS have refused to make any comment on these issues.
A spokesman for the PSA said that Tibor was still licensed to operate in this country after presenting the “necessary documentation”.
Serious questions about the PSA’s licensing operation have also been raised by owners of security companies. Most recently they have been presented to the PSA at an security industry forum in the City West Hotel in Dublin.
In recent weeks a Dublin security company was visited by gardaí to arrest a Polish national, who held a PSA licence, for his extradition to Poland to stand trial for serious crimes.
One Dublin security contractor who employs over 100 personnel said;: “We said he was aware of have incidents where unlicensed security companies are granted contracts that licensed companies lose out on. “The PSA inspectorate is largely made up of decentralised civil servants in Tipperary who have no idea of the industry and seem focused on forcing out companies attempting to meet the rules rather than those operating in the black market”.
He added: “My company runs international security checks on all our employees, why doesn’t the PSA.”
Both Labour Party and Sinn Féin are now demanding an inquiry into the PSA and its licensing procedures.
Labour European Affairs spokesman Joe Costello, said he highlighted problems with PSA operations when legislation was being introduced: went on to suggest that the said; “The problems which are emerging with the PSA’s operation had been were highlighted by him me to the government during the debates over the legalisation introduction. “This organisation needs a complete overhaul and greater transparency would seem to be needed in its operation.”