The deputy Labour leader confirmed that 13 posts were filled under the JobBridge scheme in garda operations, including in its vetting unit, but she said the positions were clerical roles.
Ms Bruton’s comments followed questions from Sinn Féin on the hiring of unemployed individuals for the garda operations and the possibility that untrained workers were handling highly confidential data.
Ms Burton said the positions were filled under the JobBridge scheme, which currently has more than 5,500 people working.
She said taht any workers who were given positions in the Department of Justice or gardaí were sworn to obey confidentiality rules attached to posts.
She said that the 13 positions filled in the Garda Siochána included general office administrator receptionist, project accountant, legal policing researcher, and graphic designer. Of the 13, eight were assigned to duties in the Garda vetting unit.
She said her officials had received assurances from the Department of Justice that the interns were “not involved in conducting vetting checks on applicants, nor had they access to these data.”
However, Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh questioned whether it was appropriate to use interns, given that the garda vetting unit determined the future employment of individuals. Those interns would have processed “confidential and sensitive material”, he said.
Social protection spokesman Mr Ó Snodaigh added: “Is it appropriate for JobBridge to be used in this way to fill positions vacant due to the public sector recruitment embargo and to carry out policing duties? Does the minister agree that this is a form of yellow-pack policing or public service?
“In respect of the suggestion that interns have a promise of future prospects of employment, there is no possibility of their being recruited into the Garda vetting unit in the future, given the Garda and public sector recruitment embargo, so the applicants are being sold a pup.”
Ms Burton replied that the use of staff for the Gardaí was an “operational matter” for the Garda Commissioner.