Judge criticises PSA over employment of unlicensed doorman

Judge Seamus Hughes has criticised the Private Security Authority (PSA ) and the lack of spent convictions provision in Ireland.

He was speaking as the PSA prosecuted Mullingar man Craig Bannon (39 ) of Grange Cottages who denied working as an unlicensed doorman at Bed nightclub on Mount Street.

Bannon has previous “post conflict” convictions including one for attempted murder of an RUC officer in Northern Ireland, and the PSA has twice refused him a doorman’s licence, but Judge Hughes said there are people elected to the Irish national parliament who deny they were involved in similar offences.

“In the UK there’s a rehabilitation of offenders Act, but in this country your criminal record stays with you for life, so this man’s convictions stay with him for life,” the judge said.

He said that in the eyes of many Irish people, Bannon’s “post conflict” offences committed in the North were not criminal in their political context but he added that he has “no time for that carry on”.

Solicitor Louis Kiernan said his client, Craig Bannon had been a manager, not a security guard during a PSA inspection on November 30 last year, but he admitted he often had to help out.

PSA inspector Ed Gannon gave evidence that Bannon dealt with customers at the door a number of times that night.

Bannon’s employer of eight years, Colin Dolan had written to the PSA in September after several warnings and confirmed that Bannon wouldn’t work in future as a doorman.

Giving evidence, Bannon said he had held a doorman’s role before legislation regulating the door staff came into force.

Bannon said he regretted his previous convictions had to happen and admitted he had been involved in a military campaign.

Asked if he was proud of his behaviour, he said he had felt there was a need for it at the time.

Judge Hughes said he would not “take two scalps” in this State prosecution against employer and employee, and gave Bannon the benefit of the Probation Act for a technical breach of the legislation.

He said he would not add to Bannon’s convictions, and added that licensing door staff is an extra layer of cost to hard-pressed rural publicans.

Bannon was expected to multi-task because the vast majority of public houses are losing money, he said.

Colin Dolan pleaded guilty to employing Bannon to do door duty without a licence and was fined €1,000 and ordered to pay €984 prosecution costs.

He said it’s important the public can have faith in security staff and the PSA is necessary.

However, having more than 30 regulations under the Private Security Act as “absolute rubbish”, he said, asking the prosecution how anyone was supposed to keep up with them.

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