What authority do security personnel have to control entry to nightclubs and manage behaviour at venues?

Nightclub bouncers and doormen have been known to physically remove patrons with such force that they have caused serious injury and even death.

In 1996 musician Rossa Ó Snodaigh was assaulted by doormen outside the Dublin nightclub Lillie's Bordello. He was refused entry to the venue and set upon by the bouncers. He describes his ordeal,

You're just trying every way to get free you know, screaming for help.

Bouncers taking matters into their own hands have paid for their action in the courts. Most nightclubs have policies to keep their patrons and their staff safe, while ensuring they can stay out of the courts.

Doorman Neil Byrne of The System nightclub in South Anne Street Dublin says their security personnel are trained to diffuse situations and spot troublemakers before they get inside the venue.

This door policy is echoed at The Kitchen nightclub. Doorman Gerry Watters explains how The Kitchen’s security team deal with a physical confrontation inside the venue. The aggressor is physically guided out of the club but,

We’ll do it in a professional way and a way that we protect ourselves and they don’t get injured either.

If the bouncers have to get involved in a situation, solicitor Romaine Scally notes they have no special authority to physically eject, or to manhandle patrons. Security personnel have exactly the same legal rights as the patrons, and any physical contact could be regarded as an assault.

If a patron is assaulted by one of these security personnel, well they have the right to make a complaint to the guards and/or to bring civil proceedings for damages against the venue.

If an intoxicated or verbally obnoxious patron refuses to leave a nightclub the legal advice is to call An Garda Síochána to the scene.

This episode of 'Nationwide’ was broadcast on 28 April 1997. The reporter is Tom Kelly.