It appears that the security provided at the funeral of Bobby Storey may have been in contravention of the law as set out in the Private Security Industry Act 2001 (‘the 2001 Act’).
Belfast City Council state that persons appointed by the family would be “on site to assist the family in ensuring that the only people given access to the site would be family”.
It further goes on to state that “those people, playing a stewarding role for family would work with Belfast City Council to ensure that those allowed on the site would be only those permitted by the family.”
This crucial paragraph sets in stone two facts; (1) The persons were playing a “stewarding role” and (2) their role was to determine access, along with Council staff, to the facility. This, in of itself, is a scandalous dereliction of duty whereby discretionary determination as to access to a public facility was sub contracted out to unknown third-parties without any due diligence, appropriate public liability insurance or the correct security licenses.
The Private Security Industry Act 2001 at Section 3 states:
(1) Subject to the following provisions of this Act, it shall be an offence for a person to engage in any licensable conduct except under and in accordance with a licence.
Section 3 also refers to the types of employment or sub contracted services that are provided by security operatives. It is clear from the comments of Mary Lou McDonald that these stewards, both at the crematorium and lining the route, were deployed by Sinn Fein for crowd control and self evidently to protect the safety of mourners. Therefore Sinn Fein either directly, or via sub contracting the role out, supplied these security operatives and as such are liable under Section 5 of the 2001 Act for any unlicensed persons undertaking security roles.
What is defined as licensable conduct is set out at Schedule 2 of the Private Security Industry Act 2000 :
(1) This paragraph applies (subject to the following provisions of this paragraph) to any of the following activities—
(a) guarding premises against unauthorised access or occupation, against outbreaks of disorder or against damage;
(b) guarding property against destruction or damage, against being stolen or against being otherwise dishonestly taken or obtained;
(c) guarding one or more individuals against assault or against injuries that might be suffered in consequence of the unlawful conduct of others.
At Paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 there is an exemption as follows:
(4) This paragraph does not apply to the activities of an individual who exercises control over the persons allowed access to any premises to the extent only of securing, or checking, that persons allowed access—
(a) have paid for admission; or
(b) have invitations or passes allowing admission.
As such the following emerges
(1) In order to engage in any licensable conduct, under Section 3 of the 2001 Act a person must be licensed. If you are not licensed, this is a criminal offence. If anyone supplies an unlicensed operative, they are in breach of Section 5 of the 2001 Act, which is an indictable offence.
(2) The activities covering licensable conduct are set out at Schedule 2 of the 2001 Act. This includes, at Paragraph 2, guarding premises against unauthorised access. The role of the stewards was “ensuring that the only people given access to the site would be family” and (somewhat contradictory) ensuring those “allowed on the site were only those permitted by the family” . As such it is beyond dispute these stewards were playing a role in determining access to the site, and as such fall under Paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 of the 2001 Act.
(3) There is an exemption at Section 4 (designed for collecting tickets at football matches etc) if you are only ensuring persons attending have ‘invitations or passes’ or have ‘paid for admission’. Firstly, those in attendance did not have invitations or passes, and clearly did not pay for admission. Indeed Belfast City Council, by virtue of their own statement, make clear that the discretionary determination as to access (by way of ‘permission’) was to be made on site, on the day, in conjunction with those ‘playing a stewarding role’. As such, the exemption falls away on this ground alone. Further to this, republican supplied stewards were also manning the exit gate; therefore clearly performing a security function.
1. Did Belfast City Council carry out due diligence to ensure those on the gate were appropriately licensed to carrying out stewarding and determine access to the venue, as per the requirements of the Private Security Industry Act 2001?
2. Can it be confirmed by SF or the family that those supplied to perform this access role at the Crematorium appropriately licensed as per the legal requirement?
3. Aside from the crematorium, security was deployed for crowd management and to protect the safety of mourners on the streets of West Belfast:
(a) which security firm provided these stewards;
(b) are they appropriately licensed to supply security services;
(c) were all those undertaking the security and stewarding roles appropriately licensed? For example, Cheeser Crawford is seen during the funeral providing a security role with a walkie talkie and an earpiece, alongside Sean Kelly. Were these persons licensed? And if not, then who supplied them or instructed them?
4. Did any of those controlling access- at both the entrance and exit- have any criminal convictions? Who precisely were these people- the public have a right to know. It may prove illuminating.
5. Did Gerry Kelly meet an Assistant Chief Constable to discuss funeral arrangements?
6. Did the PSNI check to ensure the licensing requirements of those ‘stewarding’ were in line with the requirements of the Private Security Industry Act?
7. Were Belfast City workers controlling access to the gate SIA licensed as is required?
There questions raise further for Sinn Fein, Belfast City Council, PSNI and the Republican movement.
It isn’t going away, you know!