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Question

61. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the legislation that governs the regulation of bailiffs or those acting on behalf of a bailiff or the courts during the course of a repossession of a property; and his views on the policing of recent protests. [42376/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy may be aware, Sheriffs (or County Registrars acting as Sheriffs) are responsible to the Court for the enforcement of Court Orders, including Court Orders for repossessions. The law and procedures governing the execution of Court Orders is contained in the Enforcement of Court Orders Acts, 1926 to 1940 and the Rules of Court made thereunder. Sheriffs (or County Registrars acting as Sheriffs) are officers of the Court and are independent in the exercise of their functions and duties under statute and rules of court.
The Enforcement of Court Orders Acts, 1926 to 1940 also govern the role, function and powers of Court Messengers who support Sheriffs (or County Registrars acting as Sheriffs) in the enforcement of Court Orders. Every Court Messenger when assisting in or executing an execution order is furnished with a warrant in writing authorising the Court Messenger to execute or take part in the execution of the execution order.
Enforcement of a Court Order is considered on a case-by-case basis and where additional support is required, for example where the Court has granted an Order for possession, the Sheriff (or County Registrar acting as Sheriff) assesses the risks involved and makes his/her recommendations to the bank or lending institution’s solicitor as to what additional security arrangements are necessary. These additional personnel are sourced, contracted and paid for by the bank or lending institution and the Sheriff (or County Registrar acting as Sheriff) then appoints them as bailiffs. The employment of bailiffs in these circumstances is governed by section 2 of the Enforcement of Law (Occasional Powers) Act, 1924.
As the Deputy will be aware, the removal of individuals from property is not conducted by An Garda Síochána. In relation to the recent protests referenced by the Deputy I am advised by the Garda authorities that a removal was conducted on behalf of the property’s owner who had obtained an injunction order from the High Court directing people who had been occupying the premises to vacate it. The action was taken by a private firm acting for the owner of the premises on foot of this High Court Order.
Operational issues are a matter for An Garda Síochána and I am informed that the role of the Gardaí who were in attendance at the scene that evening was to uphold the law in facilitating the High Court order being carried out safely, to ensure public order and to facilitate peaceful protest. I understand that Community Gardaí were deployed, and were later, based on the situation as it evolved on the ground, supported by a Garda Public Order Unit, to allow the High Court order to be enforced, to keep the peace and to facilitate a public protest.
The Garda Commissioner has made a statement in relation to the protest and I understand he has requested a report from the Assistant Commissioner, Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR), to see what lessons can be learned from the event. I also note that the Policing Authority will be discussing this matter with An Garda Síochána. Furthermore, I have asked the Garda authorities to bring any additional relevant information to my attention.